Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

UWC summit promotes dialogue in the Northwest and globally

“At a United World College you don’t feel like you are different. Although we all come from different places . . . you can always be sure that the person sitting next to you is someone from somewhere else, and that this person speaks a language that you probably don’t speak,” said sophomore and UWC alumna Ivana Vukovic.  

From Friday, March 30 to Sunday, April 1, the campus will be shared by up to 45 college students who had a similar experience at a UWC, a network of two-year high schools located around the world. This summit for alumni of United World Colleges is the first of its kind in the Northwest. The event is organized by the 11 UWC alumni who attend Whitman, many of whom are international students as well.

The goal of the summit is to give these diverse students a chance to talk and think about where they are now. When asked about what it’s like to make the transition, sophomore Thabo Liphoto expressed some of the difficulties.

“It’s pretty hard. That’s what we’re going to try to solve [with the summit]. How can you live as a UWC student in a U.S. college?” he said.

There are 13 UWC worldwide, and all are two year high-schools which teach the International Baccalaureate curriculum. While about a quarter of the students in one school are from the native country, the rest of those enrolled in a UWC are from all over the world. The schools emphasize values such as intercultural understanding, environmental consciousness and community service.

“After you’re done with your UWC education you expect a lot from yourself. Probably the hardest thing about transitioning to college life is understanding that you are still a UWC student, but you can’t expect from yourself to be really fully always constantly out there, but you need to find ways to put these ideals to practice in a more comfortable and time-manageable way,” said Vukovic.

The summit will feature several sessions in which the students can talk about how they can enact UWC values in their new environments. They will discuss the theme of the conference, Glocalization, which means thinking globally while acting locally. They will also talk about the values that are held by the Davis UWC Scholars Program, a scholarship funded by Shelby Davis that allows UWC alumni to go to college at select schools in the United States. One session will address designing Davis Projects for Peace, an annual grant which goes towards project proposals from any student at a partner college. Another will talk about the Shelby Davis ideal “Learn. Earn. Return.” The students will also participate in a community service project removing blackberry bushes in Walla Walla.

Whitman is one of the schools that UWC alumni can attend in the United States with the help of the Davis UWC Scholars Program grants. The majority of the UWC Davis partner schools are on the east coast. Although 91 U.S. schools partner with the UWC Davis Scholars Program, only four are located in the Northwest: Whitman, Reed, Lewis& Clark and College of Idaho. Only four percent of UWC Davis Scholars are students in the Northwest.

“They think they’re really pioneers, coming out to the west,” said International Student and Scholar Advisor Kris Barry.

While the UWC alumni in the east coast meet often for conferences, never before has a similar gathering occurred among the schools in the Northwest. In the beginning stages of planning, Barry called a school on the east coast to ask how they had done it. She hopes that by creating a more engaged network of UWC students in the Northwest, the Northwest will become a more appealing college destination for UWC students.

“It is difficult for them to come over here and be so isolated from their UWC peers, so that leads us to the summit . . . it’s a way of bringing together students in the Northwest area, to continue to talk about UWC ideals,” said Language Learning Center Coordinator Jen Mouat.

The summit is funded largely by donor Amit Mital, a UWC alum, who connected  with the group through Associate Professor of Politics and Garrett Fellow Jeanne Morefield, who is also an UWC alumna. The two met at a similar conference for UWC alumni.  The remainder of the cost of the summit is covered by the Intercultural Center and the President’s office. Whitman also donated 22 beds on campus to the students visiting for the conference. The cost of attending the summit is just $25.

Vukovic stresses that the ideals that the summit addresses are not essentially UWC ideals.

“Anyone can do it, anyone can join us, but the point is that we expect that we will be the ones to lead and take initiative to actually do them.”

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