AN interview with Julian Whitley, Head of UWC Singapore

Honor Mishcon (England, AC 07-09)

This is a further article in the UWC-Heads-interviews series.

From the moment Julian Whitely first experienced Atlantic College four years ago, being whisked away into the depths of St. Donat’s Castle with the quiet whisperings of ‘The Movement’, his career as the principle of the UWCSEA commenced. This school has been criticized for not being completely UWC like, as the college is not just the last two years of high school but starts from a very young age and has thousands of students. I wondered if this meant that some of the ethos and spirit might be altered. However, by not having an exclusive age group, the South East Asian School spreads UWC experience to a wider range of people. Moreover, being introduced from a young age means that the spirit of UWC is even more ingrained within the children and they grow up following the mission.

Singapore is also dramatically different with regards to service and activities. Service is strictly social and only a certain amount of hours are required within the first year. In fact it is possible to do all of your service hours in the first year so that nothing has to be done in the second. Another noticeable difference is the charities that the college supports. These must all be NGO’s that insure that 100%of the money raised must be given to the beneficiaries and nothing can be taken for administration. Also the NGOs must promise to allow students to take part in its initiatives throughout the duration of their diploma or in a gap year. UWCSEA has been trying to become more sustainable, while helping those in need. It has managed to accomplish this by paying for mangroves to be planted in areas affected by the tsunami. This helps to equalize the carbon debt and provide flood barriers. 

However, in the middle of all this all, where does Julian see the UWC movement going? In order to absolve the money issues that have arisen, especially at Atlantic College, Julian feels that the only way to improve the situation is to start means testing and having needs based scholarships. Although this would effect some of the principles of the UWC colleges it would considerately help those in the most financial need, while being as fair and as diplomatic as possible.  

– United World College Student Magazine –

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