Hannes Decat (Belgium, UWCM 2010-2012)
United World College Maastricht is a fresh new little branch of the big UWC tree. The students and staff are pioneers and pioneers tend to face challenges. One of those challenges was organising the first culture week ever at UWC Maastricht. As West-European and North-American (WENA) citizens, we were the chosen ones to write a part of UWC Maastricht’s history. Culture weeks are the epitome of UWC’s tradition of sharing. It is an amazing feeling to know that we are setting this tradition for our coming years. A woman told us after the opening show: ‘The WENA culture week has put a high standard for the coming ones and it will be their challenge to try to improve this.’ This was the most beautiful comment she could give us because we wanted to challenge the coming culture week committees in making each of their weeks the ‘best culture week’.
The week was opened on Saturday the 4th of December. There was an opening show in which each participating country was presented. To the heroic tones of Vangelis, the representatives of the countries walked on the stage with their national flags. The opening speech was followed by a hilarious movie in which we each proudly presented our country. Afterward, we performed traditional dances, including a bull-fight simulation, from Spain of course. West-Europe and North-America are the cradle of lots of musicians. We added a WENA song to this rich and ancient music history (see the song between the lines). After the show we served some of the traditional and delicious food, which made some people gain a few kilograms. The opening day ended with a workshop about English accents, or how you can say “would you like a cup of tea” in 30 different English accents.
On Sunday the holy man Sinterklaas and his funny Pieten honoured the boarding house with a visit. The next day, we compared and analysed Sinterklaas and Santaclaus during a presentation, where we found out, believe it or not that Sinterklaas was their first and Santa is just a coca cola fake, or as the only American we have defined it “a new cooler version of Sinterklaas”. This was followed by a workshop on jumpen, a modern dance style from Belgium.
On Tuesday we had a culture fair. We filled five tables in the atrium with food and features from our countries. The fair was a success, with the food being particularly popular. Years 7 to 13 were standing in a line in front of the presenters and when the start sign was given, they stormed on the tables. If they could correctly answer a question about the country they were standing by, they could taste one piece of traditional food. In the evening there was a workshop on Dutch traditional games, a great fun to get to know the culture we live in a little bit better.
In Wednesday during school assembly, a theatre play was presented the West-European and North-American history. Tintin and Milou, the famous comic heroes from Belgium (that’s what the Belgians say at least), led the audience from the Stone Age to present times. The same day there was a workshop about the Spanish kitchen.
On Thursday the Dutch A1 students went to the primary school to read some fairy tales to the students. In the evening, we went on a trip to the Christmas market in Aachen. We tasted traditional holiday drinks, pancakes and typical German cookies next to the ominous shape of the ‘Aachener Dom’, a cathedral carrying more than 1200 years of history.
On Friday, we had to conclude our week. During the Winter Fair, organised by the Parent Support Group, we performed an ending show. We showed the results of the workshops, which included, among other things, ‘koekhappen’ (cookie snapping), a scene from My Fair Lady and the WENA song.
The Culture Week was organized by students only, which is a great responsibility and fun, especially to be the first ones doing it. We hope that we have set a trend that will be continued in the promising future of UWC Maastricht. Isn’t that what we as pioneers do it all for—the hope of coming back after a couple of years and seeing that everything we once sowed is flourishing?
-United World Colleges Student Magazine-