Bjoern Bremer (Germany, AC 07-09)
United World College of the Atlantic, this week, hosted the UWCs’ bi-annual International Board meeting. United Words was able to gain an exclusive interview with Tim Toyne Sewell, Chair of the International UWC Board.
The Chairman was immediately able to convey his open approach to the students and faculty present. His eager nature in this regard is admirable and demonstrated a commitment at the very core of UWC. The Chairman provided unique insights as to the vision and direction the movement will take.
Tim Toyne Sewell recently retired after twelve years as Director of Goodenough College in London, having been a General in the British Army and Commandant of The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before that and was elected as Chairman of the International Board on October 1, 2006.
He expressed his hope that the challenges lying ahead could be addressed effectively at the International Board meeting. Most importantly, the start of a new fundraising campaign to find global donors, the expansion of the UWC movement and the revision of the governance of the colleges and the International Board all needed to be dealt with.
According to Tim, however, the movement’s main aim always has to be to “fulfil the UWC mission statement. The movement constantly has to try to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” In addition, the UWC movement has to seek to create a network which can increase global stability. “Global friendship has to be further promoted”.
In order to achieve this, many more people need to become aware of the UWC movement and more students need to be given the chance to attend a UWC; this is only possible by opening new colleges in the future or finding other vehicles such as outreach to take the message forward. Yet, Tim emphasized that “no new college can be opened at the expense of another”, referring to the financial pressures facing us all. Realistically this means that a new college is only likely to be opened every 4 or 5 years.
Being asked about main differences between the UWCs and other international schools around the world, Tim answered that most definitely it is the students that make the difference. At every UWC “students make the college” and they are different to other students because “they came under their own steam”. They choose to apply themselves and, where selected by a national committee, to represent their country. Also, the amount of social service is different. At other international schools students mostly attend classes and only do a minimum of service and activities. UWC students on the other hand, tend to socially interact to a far greater extent. In fact, it is core to the everyday life at every college. Nevertheless, Tim emphasized that “student involvement in college life as well as in the decision and policy making process is a vital element of any college and key to their success.”
However, Tim also acknowledged that it is difficult to actively involve students into the work of the International Board, which includes many alumni and representatives from the national committees. “They talk exclusively about students and students’ concerns. In many ways, students are a lot better represented than they might think.” For the future, Tim says, alumni “need to be used more efficiently” as “their experience as former students can take the movement forward.”
– United World College Student Magazine –