When Dr. Rochelle Williams, head of the United World College (UWC) selection committee, speaks about UWC, she speaks from experience as, at age 16, she was afforded the opportunity to attend UWC Atlantic College in Wales.
“It was the most challenging experience I have ever had. It allowed me to excel academically, and most of all it helped to further shape the person that I am today,” said Williams. “The friends that I made are lifelong friends who with me still believe that we can make positive change in at times a very negative world.”
Williams is one of over 150 Bahamian student ambassadors who, since 1971, have graduated with the IB Diploma from UWCs in Canada, the USA, Hong Kong, China, Wales, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Costa Rica and South Africa. John Fowler, 1971-1973, was the first UWC Bahamian student. He attended the UWC of the Atlantic. Currently, seven Bahamian students are studying at UWCs.
“Now, more than ever, the world needs future leaders who know and understand one another and who are inspired to make a difference in their communities,” said Barbara Ann Bernard, chair of The Bahamas National Committee for United World Colleges who is also a graduate of Li Po Chun UWC, Hong Kong (1997-99).
“When much is given, much is expected. UWC was the best two years of my life. Not only did it make the world a global village, but it inspired me to embody the change I wish to see in it,” said Bernard.
Bernard said in terms of impact and the multiplier effect, she could not think of a higher return on a philanthropic dollar than funding scholarships that educate the most promising youth with other countries’ future leaders as well.
The Bahamas National Committee for United World Colleges is currently accepting applications for students wishing to apply for placement at UWC for the 2020-2021 International Baccalaureate (IB) Program available online at http://www.bahamas-uwc.org/. Applications close on January 31, 2020.
The committee encourages applications from students throughout the country. The Bahamas has been granted a combination of scholarships and placements at UWC Colleges in the Netherlands, Italy, China, Costa Rica, Canada and Norway.
“UWC schools are like no other, as are UWC students. By bringing together young people from diverse backgrounds, and with differing experiences and views of the world, UWC creates an environment that inspires tomorrow’s leaders and change-makers. What makes UWC so special is that it sees education as a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future,” said Bernard.
Today, UWC has 18 schools and colleges on four continents, which focus on the 16 to 19 age group – a time when young people’s energy and idealism can be guided towards empathy, responsibility and lifelong action.
UWC teaches the IB Diploma as the formal curriculum, a qualification that UWC played a major part in developing, while also emphasizing the importance of experiential learning, community service and outdoor activities.
While UWCs are among the best boarding schools in the world, anybody can apply to UWC. Selection is based on demonstrated promise and potential. In accordance with the UWC ethos that education should be independent of the student’s socioeconomic means, 70 percent of students in their IB Diploma years receive either full or partial financial assistance, based on their needs.
When Britain’s Prince Charles assumed presidency of the UWC International Council, he suggested Sir Etienne Dupuch form a UWC Bahamian National Committee, which Sir Etienne did in 1971. The National Committee has subsequently been chaired by L.B. Johnson and B.J. Deveaux. This year marked a heartening milestone for the Bahamian National Committee. For the first time, a UWC graduate, Bernard, was elected chair.
“The UWC concept is based on the ideals of educationalist Kurt Hahn, who believed that school should be a preparation for life, not just for university, and that education should help students to develop resilience and the ability to experience failure as well as success,” said Bernard. “The creation in 1962 of the first UWC, Atlantic College, in Wales, was Hahn’s crowing educational achievement. His earlier initiatives included Outward Bound and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. In the words of Kurt Hahn, ‘The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but most of all, the world needs dreamers that do.’ If you are a dreamer who does, the UWC Bahamian National Committee encourages you to apply,” said Bernard.