Economic turmoil drove Tsitsi Makufa’s family out of Zimbabwe, and the instability they felt there seemed to follow them.
“My family moved to the Kingdom of Eswatini when I was 10 to find better stability,” Makufa said. “I went to four primary schools and two kindergarten schools before starting high school, making high school my seventh school and the longest time spent in one place. I was always the new kid or the kid from a country with an inflationary currency.”
Everything changed after Makufa enrolled at Waterford Kamhlaba, United World College of Southern Africa in Eswatini, part of a network of 18 international baccalaureate-granting high schools from around the world.
“I was no longer the new kid because everyone else was starting new at the same time,” Makufa said. “Being an international school, everybody was from somewhere else. It was nice to just interact with people on the same plane even though we had different experiences and perspectives.”
Now, a proud graduate from Earlham College’s Class of 2022, Makufa is using her early career to spread awareness about the value of an international education. Earlier this spring, Earlham hired Makufa as the College’s first full-time social media coordinator—and she never misses an opportunity to highlight the success stories of her fellow UWC grads studying at Earlham.
“High school is where your peak growth happens, and the United World Colleges were established to make sure that people from different places are not being seen as terrible or deserving of pity just because of the passport they hold,” Makufa said. “It’s about bringing people from all corners of the world into one shared living experience to allow the next generation of people to have a different outlook of the world. It took me seven years to better understand their mission, but the seed was planted from Day 1.
“Earlham is very similar, but without the UWC I wouldn’t have discovered Earlham either,” she said.
UWC campuses work closely with their students to develop a list of colleges where their graduates can thrive. Earlham wasn’t originally on Makufa’s list, but that quickly changed after reviewing her options.
“I had the same guidance counselor throughout my seven years at UWC and he knew me better than I knew myself,” she said. “He looked at my interests and he knew I wanted to be surrounded by people who would know my name. He knew I was interested in trying different foods and learning from people with different backgrounds and he knew I wanted to participate in sports.
After I started talking with Earlham’s Office of International Admissions and the Department of Athletics, I knew Earlham was the place for me.”
At Earlham, Makufa earned degrees in business with a concentration in marketing and psychology, played tennis and ran track and field, choreographed the Gumboot Dance as part of Dance Alloy, was a campus tour guide to a number of our incoming class, a peer career coach, a student coordinator for new student orientation, an events coordinator for Earlham Student Government and hosted the second-ever TedXEarlhamCollege.
“I spent seven years at UWC and I plan to spend at least seven years at Earlham, too,” Makufa said. “These are two big communities that will always be with me. I’ll never forget about this part of my life.”