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How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other?

Lester B.Pearson

Early supporter of Pearson College, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Nobel Peace Laureate

The striking feature of the UWC is that they embrace the entire world. They are unique and they are conscious of their responsibilities.

Nelson Mandela

Late Honorary President of UWC, Former President of South Africa

We have realized our dream to create a dream school for you. Please go out and realize your dream and other’s dreams.

Wesley Chiu,

Member of UWC National Committee of China, board member of UWC Changshu China

The sense of idealism and a purposeful life really makes the UWC experience unique and its impact life-long.

Wang Yi

Co-Founder, Vice Chairman of Board and Executive Director of Harvard Centre Shanghai. Pearson 89-91

UWC was one of the ten members of the international schools association that created the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva in 1963 … today, they are taken in over 4,000 schools worldwide and have become the gold standard for university entrance.

Sir John Daniel

Chair of UWC International Board and International Council 

I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial and above all, compassion.

Kurt Hahn

German Educator, Founder of United World Colleges

"UWC is not Just a School, it is a Lifelong Movement"

Issue date:2023-11-15

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of UWC, we interviewed UWC alumni currently working in UWC Changshu China. In the following interview, Adela Ramović shared her experience from a UWC student to a UWC teacher and her reflections on the UWC movement. She believes: "UWC is not just a school, it is a lifelong 'movement'."

Adela Ramović

Psychology teacher

Adela Ramović is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. She graduated from UWC Mostar in 2014 and received her university education at Colby College in the United States.  She returned to UWC Mostar as a psychology teacher from 2019 to 2022. In August 2022, she joined UWC Changshu China.

Interviewer: Would you like to share with us your UWC experience? Any very interesting and memorable experience?

Adela: I entered the world of UWC back in the spring of 2012, when a little owl (a postman) brought the acceptance letter to UWC Mostar. I however started the UWC journey in the summer of 2012 when I attended a UWC summer school in UWC Mostar, with the theme of Peace Resolution. Soon after, that fall, I began my UWC journey as a student.

One of my memorable experiences at UWC was during the orientation week, when a second-year student, performed a theatrical sketch with two other students. They acted as if they were going to a UWC school by train and explaining to the train conductor, who was played by the second-year student, about the school's environment.

The two female students described UWC as a place where the sky is always blue, the grass is always green, and people talk about inclusion, diversity, and cultural understanding. However, the train conductor denied the existence of such a place and refused to sell them a ticket to UWC Mostar. He suggested they should try Hogwarts instead.

Adela with her second-year from UWC Mostar, her partner from UWC RCN, and her UWC colleagues during the hiking trip in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Although it was funny at the time, this experience made me question what is UWC?

Looking back on my UWC experience as a student, I really cherish the moments of getting to know individuals from UWC community and from the local community – the people in the city of Mostar.

I cherish memories of hanging out under the Old Bridge in Mostar, eating ice cream together, sitting in the park, and talking in the room with my housemates. These moments of being together as a community and learning from one another outside of the classroom were truly impactful.

Adela at Mostar Old City

Belonging in a community, sharing happy and sad moments with friends, being accepted and recognized, and even trying to figure out what my future holds and who I will become, is what made my UWC experience similar to Hogwarts experience – hard to explain in a paragraph or a couple of words, but my life has truly changed after the acceptance letter to UWC had arrived to my house, via the postman.

Interviewer: Why did you choose to return to UWC?

Adela: UWC community provided so much for me, and I wanted to return to UWC because I always believed in the importance of giving back. Coming from a small community myself, I was raised to believe that we can do a lot, as humans, to build a better future for ourselves and those around us.

I was lucky to have wonderful teachers throughout my educational journey, who loved teaching us about the world outside of the classroom and I wanted to be a part of the movement that UWC promotes. Since my own teachers from UWC Mostar believed in me and challenged me, and trusted me as an adult, and I hoped I could make that happen for someone else.

UWC is not just an academic institution, it is a life-changing experience that is hard to find elsewhere. Although there are other boarding schools that offer similar programs, what sets UWC apart is its unique community.

Adela at the farewell ceremony from UWC Mostar where she worked as a Psychology teacher from summer of 2019 until summer of 2022

When I graduated from UWC Mostar, I reflected on my experiences and asked myself why they were so meaningful to me. I realized that education played a crucial role in my upbringing and that my parents instilled in me the importance of reading and learning to do things by hands, by experience. The reason why my parents always insisted on me learning was because their education was interrupted by conflict in Bosnia and they didn’t have a chance to complete it.

Through my experience at UWC, I saw firsthand how education could shape a person’s life. So I ended up being the first in my family to complete a higher degree. And when I decided to return to UWC as a teacher, I told myself – I would spend days inside and outside the classroom, teaching students about the importance of community and education.

With this being said, with every start of the new year in a UWC setting, I hope to inspire students to do good in this life, to be there for others, to be kind and empathetic, and to promote the idea of people overcoming differences and living and working together for peace and sustainable future.

Interviewer: As we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of UWC, how do you understand UWC mission now?

Adela: When I think of UWC, I think of the word "movement". When I think of the word "movement" as a non-native speaker, I don't associate it specifically with institutions, I think of something that is constantly spinning, running, moving, and progressing toward a goal. That's what UWC represents to me: moving forward together as a community.

Furthermore, the "movement" is continuous, it is changeable, and it has the ability to evolve, to reflect upon the experience. And reflection is an essential tool to keep moving forward. I think UWC as a movement creates a safe space for all of its members to do just that. It allows us to explore and learn in a supportive environment.

Adela with her advisory group at the graduation ceremony in UWC Mostar

UWC shapes our identity. Throughout my time at UWC, I have changed my understanding of the values and I changed which values I associate with. At the first step in this interview process, I believed it was Personal Responsibility and Integrity – as these values truly echoed my learning experiences as a young adult, all throughout college.

However, recently, I have been thinking a lot about the value of Compassion and Service. I often find myself thinking about how to integrate the understanding and practice of empathy in classes and activities that I do, and how to help build an inclusive community for all, to explore and learn together.

For me, one important aspect of my identity is my UWC identity. It has always been something that I cherish and celebrate because UWC has taught me how to be myself, how to live with others, how to think critically about the world, how to challenge ideas, ideate, and how to disrupt the usual and create something new.

Adela was always interested in intersection of art and psychology and in college she made a visual installation as a part of her senior art thesis, where she explored the idea of negative spaces and visibility.

UWC is a family. I always admired some of my co-years who had their brothers and sisters also go to UWC, it's like a little UWC family. And then my last year in Mostar, I had an advisee whose dad was a UWC graduate. I think that seeing how her dad sent her to the same school he graduated from, means that the UWC mission has had an impact on his life.

UWC allows everyone to identify as a UWC alum, even people who did not attend the school and have been to any of the UWC short courses. In a sense, UWC invites people to learn together and celebrate humanity together.

Interviewer: In what ways are you trying to live in UWC mission and values outside the classroom?

Adela: I've been part of the UWC movement for over 10 years now. I first got involved in 2012 when I enrolled as a student, but even before that, I attended a UWC summer school. This summer marks my 11th year as part of the UWC community.

UWC mission extends beyond the classrooms. A couple of years back, I started working on short courses and designing summer programs for students where they can actually apply to the UWC movement outside of a UWC school. I started working with short courses because my earliest experience of the UWC world actually began at a similar summer short course.

I have had the opportunity to work on different versions of short courses across Europe. My most cherished experience is the time I spent working on a UWC short course at UWC Mostar, called "Bridging Cultures" In this short course we focused specifically on unpacking the UWC mission of "education being a force to unite people".

UWC Short Course, Bridging Cultures, happening in UWC Mostar during the summer has been a space for Adela, and her partner Edis, to engage with youth from Balkan region in engaging with the UWC mission outside of the classroom setting

Together with participants, we delved into inquiry and critical thinking. During this time, we created an environment that allowed participants to explore who they are and learn from each other. We focused on topics such as identity and resilience. Throughout the course, we developed workshops and activities that were targeted to help participants develop skills necessary for communication and listening.

These summer opportunities had been a great opportunity for me to work with different educators who weren't necessarily teachers. There were no textbooks for this type of learning; we created our own curriculum and challenged our participants to believe in themselves and explore their potential.

It's amazing to see how much you can achieve in just 7 to 10 days working with young adults. I think UWC is all about bringing people together to learn from one another's experiences, and that is exactly what we try to do in the short courses.

Working on short courses I have learned that, the UWC mission is not only for 2 years, but is also not only for that one summer. It keeps being, it keeps existing within us. To answer the question I posed to myself as a student back in 2012, UWC is not just a school, it is a lifelong "movement".

Interviewer: What are your hopes for the future of UWC?

Adela: Through UWC, I met some of my best friends and colleagues. And I met my lifelong partner, Edis. We both graduated from UWC, and have both been involved with UWC movement since our time as students. Together we have worked on UWC short courses and have empowered one another to embark on educational adventures with educators and students from all over the world, reflecting on the importance of the UWC in our professional and personal lives.

Adela and her partner Edis participated in a half-marathon race in Mostar, training and racing together with about 20 UWC Mostar students

Last spring here at UWC Changshu China, I had a chance to work with FP Impact Project Week co-led with Simon Ma and a group of students, where we focused on developing an Inclusive Orientation week for incoming students this 2023/24 academic year.

I was inspired by the ability of the small team of students who remained and worked over the summer to deliver the orientation that they imagined last spring. These students worked together and showed us that well-being of the entire community is a driving force for UWC Changshu China and they also have allowed me to go back to the days when I was a student and re-live the orientation, once again.

I hope that the UWC movement continues growing and continues offering multiple safe spaces for young people, as well as for adults and children to come together and engage in lifelong learning and exploration.

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