Every year, all 18 UWC schools around the world celebrate one special UWC Day, knowing that although we are separated geographically, we are united in spirit. For the students and staff, UWC Day is an opportunity to help, learn and grow through service-learning and fulfil the UWC mission: to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. For 2020, “United We Can” was the chosen theme.
For the students at United World College, Thailand, this was an opportunity to unite as a community, especially after all the commotion and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday the 21st of September, over 350 UWCT students completed a range of different off- and on-campus activities from planting over a thousand mangroves to repainting the student snack hut called Shaka, in the school colours. So what does UWC Day and “United We Can” really mean to us?
Officially, UWC Day is a celebration of UWC’s mission and values. It is planned each year to coincide with the United Nations’ International Peace Day, and it provides an opportunity to appreciate the diversity within our UWC schools. Our theme this year, “United We Can”, symbolizes that if we work together, we can do amazing things to help, for example, the environment.
“I think UWC Day is about reminding us to be more sustainable, learning about important service projects and doing more things together; not just one person alone,” quoted one Primary student. That is definitely true, considering the activities we completed in only one day.
All in all, we planted 1,000 mangroves, 300 banana trees, two lychee trees, collected 73 heavy bags of rubbish from different beaches and built one new brick enclosure for the gibbons at the local Gibbon Sanctuary. These activities were student-led by our inspiring Grade 11 and Grade 12 students.
Around midday, the Student Council organized a Peace March where students and teachers alike proudly displayed their nation’s flag and cultural clothing as they paraded around campus. It was impressive to witness the diversity in our school – we consist of 358 students and represent 60 different countries scattered around the globe!
After a lunch of food from different cultures, students went to 16 unique student-led workshops. Some workshops were Model United Nations (MUN) which taught students to formally debate, ‘Brain Change’, allowing students to learn about neuroplasticity with brain exercises and ‘MANTA Coral Monitoring’ explored information about coral reefs and marine health.
The boarding students continued UWC Day well into the evening as they took part in an important anti-racism workshop.
Another purpose of UWC Day is to be a provocation for our annual Sustainability Week. During this weekly theme, students pledged different environmental goals. One example pledge was ‘Zero Food Waste’. The amount of food waste was recorded on a chart in the cafeteria. The goal was to reduce our food waste by half. We did not reach the goal for that week, but we reduced the food waste considerably. This demonstrates that having individual goals can make a collective difference.
Other pledges included cycling to and from school, not using single-use plastic, having only one-song showers or being a vegetarian for the week.
The boarding students ended the successful Sustainability Week by organizing a community beach cleanup at Layan for all students and families.
Through their hard work, the UWCT community truly showed us that, United We Can… make a difference to help change the world.
By UWC Thailand Students, Meg M & Annabel M (Grade 7)