BY PHUONG HA ’22, VIETNAM
A second-year United World College-USA student’s 15-second video about his international boarding school has reached 4 million views.
“I had no idea that it would become viral,” said Ben Curry ‘21, USA-NM, who uploaded his video to the social network TikTok on Jan. 19. Since then it has received 1.3 million views on TikTok alone, including 100,000 on the first day.
“It was exciting to see how other people are excited about our school,” Ben said. “What seems the most fascinating to me, however, is the worldwide connections in the comments.”
In addition, the video has also contributed to people worldwide expressing an interest in UWC-USA.
“We saw a significant uptick in inquiries through the school’s website inquiry form after Ben’s TikTok video was published,” said Carl-Martin Nelson, director of communications for UWC-USA. “While it’s difficult to attribute an exact number, I would estimate at least 150 new inquiries came in. They won’t all turn into applicants, but it is great and welcome traffic.”
John Carpenter, director of admissions for UWC-USA, said apart from promoting the school through national committees, the school spends a lot of time and effort marketing UWC in the United States. While the marketing effort has increased five-fold, COVID-19 has posed immense challenges on admissions and the future is unpredictable, he said.
“This year, we have received about 800 applications for the Davis Scholarship, some of which have just started, some in process, some finished,” John said. “Oftentimes, the number of applicants are two to three times as many as we can select.”
Ben’s love for photography and videography prompted him to make the video on a snowy January morning. The video features a tour of the school from Mont Blanc dormitory to the Montezuma Castle dining hall.
“I’m the kind of person who stops to take photos of the sunset, soccer on the field, or anything exciting around me,” he said. “That morning, the snow was beautiful, so I took a video of it on my way to breakfast.”
Ben is also amazed that UWC-USA has remained open during COVID-19 with more than 200 students from 82 countries on campus. He made the video to share his passion and appreciation for UWC-USA and capture the beautiful image of the castle during a snowfall.