King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway Visit UWC Changshu China

On 19th October, on the occasion of their state visit to China, their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway paid a visit to UWC Changshu China. 

19 October 2018

 

UWC Changshu China is the only United World Colleges in the mainland of China and currently educates 570 students from over 100 countries and regions. Along with the other 16 UWC schools worldwide, UWC Changshu China is committed to UWC’s mission of making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.          

 

Queen Sonja of Norway is the patron of UWC Changshu’s sister school in Norway, UWC Red Cross Nordic, a school she has supported since its founding and which she has visited many times. The school has received Queen Sonja’s particular attention due to its focus on making access to world class education accessible to students selected through UWC’s network of over 155 national committees, independent of their socio-economic background, enabled through one of the world’s most comprehensive secondary education scholarship systems.

 

The royal couple were warmly welcomed by the entire community of UWC Changshu China including Mark Jiapeng Wang, Founder and Chair of the Board; Yi Wang, Vice Chair of the Board; Principal, Pelham Lindfield Roberts and students from China, Norway and various other countries when they arrived at the College in the late morning. 

Queen Sonja and Mark Jiapeng Wang, first met each other 20 years ago when, thanks to the generosity of Queen Sonja, Mark was awarded a scholarship to study at UWC Red Cross Nordic. After his graduation, Mark started to pursue his dream of founding a UWC in the mainland of China, which became a reality when UWC Changshu China opened in 2015. Visiting UWC Changshu China gave Queen Sonja the opportunity to witness firsthand how Mark’s vision to open a UWC school in his home country has become true and to see the impact of her kindness,care and support to Mark has had on the UWC movement. 

During the visit to UWC Changshu China, King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the newly founded Yushan Academy, a new addition to UWC Changshu China,  hosting a Center for Chinese Programmes and a Centre for Design and Innovation.

 

Their Majesties invited Mark Jiapeng Wang to have a picture taken with them in front of the Zhi Xing Hall at the Yushan Academy to cherish their long lasting friendship.

Their Majesties also happily had a group picture with some of the students, faculty and staff of UWC Changshu China.

Queen Sonja planted a tree of friendship together with leaders of the College to commemorate the historic visit.

Afterwards, they enjoyed performances by the students.

Before they left the College, King and Queen bid farewell to students and to Mark Jiapeng Wang which was a particularly heartwarming and touching moment.  The visit was short, but the memory will be unforgettable. Their visit is not just a support to UWC Changshu China, but to UWC movement as a whole.

Queen Sonja said during an interview with NRK TV of Norway while visiting the College that she was greatly impressed by Mark Jiapeng Wang when she first met him at UWC Red Cross Nordic and she was so proud to see what Mark had achieved in his home country and the impact he had made.

Mark Jiapeng Wang comments on the occasion of the visit:

 

 

"It is my immense honour and privilege as the Founder and Chair of UWC Changshu China to welcome their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja to our College. It was during their State Visit in 1997, that Queen Sonja announced a Norwegian government-funded scholarship for a Chinese disabled student to attend Red Cross Nordic UWC. At that time, I was desperate to continue my education beyond what I had been able to learn while in the hospital after being seriously injured in a plane crash. I was so excited that I was selected to study in Norway and since then I have been full of gratitude to Her Majesty from the bottom of my heart. 

 

It was because UWC transformed my life and gave me hope that I wanted many, many more young people to have the same opportunity. So when Her Majesty invited me to visit her royal castle in Oslo, I told her that I would like to build a United World College in the mainland of China. Her encouragement that day remained with me and kept me going when times were difficult and strengthened my resolve when I saw opportunities.

 

The UWC movement has a vision that extends well beyond the education of individual students: it is about creating a better world.  Even with so much conflict and turmoil around us, I am convinced education will be the force for a more peaceful and sustainable world."