A week of Inspiration- UWC-DT Summer Studio 2019
A week of Inspiration- UWC-DT Summer Studio 2019

A person that has a marvelous vision but with no skills to take action is a bird without wings. Only with both the tool and the ideology could we design and impact the future, and UWC-DT Summer Studio showed us a glimpse of both.

 - Sophie Huang (Facilitator)


About author: Chunxi Guan, is a student from Guangzhou, China, FP class of 2019 of UWC Changshu China and DP class of 2021 of United World College of the Adriatic, Italy. He is the year representative of the Foundation Program in the College Council. He is drawn to the field of Education and Philosophy. In addition to performing as a flute soloist, he is also the chief flutist in UWC orchestra.


The first ever UWC-DT Summer Studio was held at the Yushan Academy Center for Design and Innovation at UWC Changshu China from July 8th to 14th 2019 as a UWC in-house designed summer program.  Covering both design thinking workshops and UWC themed activities, UWC-DT Summer Studio offered participants a unique opportunity to learn from IDEO designers from Chicago and Shanghai, and a professional creative coder from Denmark. The design thinking workshops included interactive coding, 3D printing, prototyping, and a three-day design challenge to challenge participants to apply design thinking to solve problems and manage projects. Resonating with the core UWC values, the activities included a Global Issues Forum, Fireside Chat and a fashion show utilizing recycled materials.

  • Design thinking
  • 3D printing
  • programming courses


Working in the facilitator team, which consisted of current and graduated UWC students, I acted as a teaching assistant in classes, organized UWC-related activities, and supported the participants with their community life. During these days, I gained a brand-new understanding of how inspiring a week as a facilitator at UWC-DT Summer Studio 2019 could be. 

  • Graduation Ceremony

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a methodology to solve problems creatively. The core of design thinking is producing actionable insights and knowing your questions. It’s about simple mindset shifts or ways of asking questions differently – a new way to look at problems.


The most valuable experience of the studio is that I gained hands-on experience in design techniques like coding, Makey-Makey, 3D printing, and laser cutting.

- Jack Zhong (participant) 


At UWC-DT Summer Studio, different workshops held in design thinking encouraged students to apply the framework not only in design but also in different aspects of their real life. The development of different skillsets, from coding to physical prototyping, alongside various technological equipment offered at Yushan Academy Center for Design and Innovation, such as 3D printing and laser cutting, provides a set of foundational skills that support students to apply design thinking in problem solving and project management.


For example, in the "School Bag Design Challenge", I witnessed students developing essential communication skills to find out users' needs, and ways of brainstorming to create designs that meet the needs of end-users; while developing empathy, collaboration and communications along the way. Another workshop focused on the use of Makey Makey to expand students’ creative abilities, with the use of Playdoh and fruits to communicate with their digital devices to make sounds. Through these interactive and fun activities, students discovered the limitless potential of creation with the use of advanced technology, which further encourage them to embark on the journey of "making".  


  • School Bag Challenge
  • Makey Makey


Meanwhile, I distinctly recall the sharing by Andreas, one of our instructors, on how he used machine learning to help disabled persons to create music using their facial expressions, inspiring all participants to utilize technology to make a positive difference in the world. This encouraged participants to learn the principles behind machine learning, and use their web cameras to "teach" their computers to distinguish between different images. Within a short period of time, students were empowered with the tools to create interactive multimedia, something they did not think possible before the workshop.  


  • Machine Learning Facial Expressions


Woody, one of the students in my crew, combined his interest in design, basketball and video games into basketball shoes design and game design. He pursued his interest by learning advanced coding and designed two video games after the Studio. Cooperatively, in the design challenge happening at the last three days in the Studio, every group designed a product specifically either to help UWC students to cope with different stresses or to improve integration within the UWC community. Some of the group proposed designs like CSC escape room, CSC e-library, and CSC Pokemon, doing well in their attempts to deal with the challenge of living in a diverse community. Their potential to make a huge impact in UWC CSC in the future was clear to see.


Similarly, all the instructors also effectively utilized design thinking in class planning. Everyday after classes, facilitators and instructors gathered together to discuss the students’ feedback, classroom atmosphere and the effects of different activities and teaching techniques. It was inspiring that the instructors’ team, as designers, were improving the curriculum along the way, aiming to provide students with the best experience in the classroom.

A Learning Community


UWC-DT Summer Studio brought together diverse students, facilitators, and instructors to produce an engaging community. To my astonishment, even though it was only a week, this community created a wonderfully rare opportunity, propelling us to learn from each other.

Every night, when I sat with my crew members – a set group of 7 participants coming from very different backgrounds – I learned so much about various individuals, education systems, and cultures. I understood their interest in game design, coding, and quantum physics; and I exchanged perspectives on experiment-focused education in Switzerland and the value of social responsibility in Waldorf education. From these small yet precious moments, I fell in love with interacting with the participants, as they broadened my perspectives with experiences I would otherwise never have encountered.   


Having the opportunity to live with such amazing classmates and create meaningful conversations helped me learn so much more than what I would learn in any other classroom.

- Harry Jiang ( participant)


Besides crew time, during these immersive experiences of UWC themed activities such as Global Issues Forum and Fireside Chat, I was delighted to witness participants exchanging perspectives from Artificial Intelligence to virtual reality, from peace to conflict, and from economics to anthropology. Rapidly, an inclusive community was created, and tight bonds were formed. 

  • Gratitude Circle


Amongst the countless pleasant surprises, one, in particular, stood out as my favorite. During the week, I led a Global Issues Forum on "Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning, Application, and Impact on the Labor Market," where I examined the current understanding and the future prospects of AI. The forum ignited a heated debate between passionate participants. Soon after, I found myself engaging in an hour-long discussion starting from the technical design of AI, and ending on the philosophical implication for creativity. This type of conversation, with the constant clash of unique perspectives, sparkling with endless knowledge and creativity, was a daily occurrence.  It inspired me tremendously about the possibilities for the future. 


In addition, the tight-knit community prompted the participants to learn from one another and improve themselves. Every night during crew time, the facilitators encouraged the students to develop their studio journals, noting down their new learning, their "highs" and "lows" of the day, and their plans for future improvement. In crews, the participants took advantage of this collaborative reflection time to practice design thinking and brainstorm potential solutions to help their personal development. 

  • ​Tube Challenge-team building game


I had never imagined how powerful education could be until I observed the participants' transformation after seven days. Some enormously improved their English ability from not uttering a word on the first day to leading the final presentation; while others gained tremendous courage growing from a listener to an active spokesperson for the team. 


  • Instructors at Sustainable Fashion Show


Most importantly, the most moving part of the week was the diverse representations of UWC values within the Studio.  The instructors, despite their different backgrounds, all resonated with the beliefs of UWC. While UWC aims to improve the world by education, IDEO, where two of our instructors currently work, believes in improving the world by design. Using design thinking, focusing on empathy, creativity and teamwork, it is a manifestation of UWC values in the real world. Copenhagen Institute of Technology, where one of our instructors teaches, and another studied, believes in human-centered development through interaction design. It is a huge encouragement to see how people in society share the same values, and are making a positive change in the world in their respective professions.



For me, this week was jammed with innumerable surprises and infinite inspiration, prompting all of us at the Design Studio to maximize our potential, and I’m extremely grateful for having this opportunity as a facilitator.


  • Facilitators’ team and Shirla (Far right), Director of Yushan Academy Center for Design & Innovation


UWC Changshu China as an educational institution provided me (as well as others) more opportunities than I ever imagined. Being a facilitator, I had the opportunity to learn about working in a large team project, leading the classrooms and group discussions, and organizing activities. From reading the students' reflections, I was awed by UWC's radiating power to encourage students to engage in their communities and pursue their passion.  Without the support and effort of people in UWC, such kind of impact could never happen.

  • Bollywood dance performance at graduation ceremony


Above all, I wholeheartedly appreciated the facilitator team, formed by current and graduate students of UWC. Working with a team of passionate and talented individuals was undoubtedly the highlight of my week. Every day, all the stress from working from dawn to midnight was immediately lifted when we saw the participants' excitement and enthusiasm. With Tuleen leading the team, Esther holding the  recycled fashion show and Global Issue Forum on anthropology, Sophie creating graphic designs, Yijing leading morning energizers, Allen composing daily reflections, and Angus doing photography, I dare say that this was the best team I could ever have worked with.