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Dover Green Heart Project: developing a commitment to care

In Singapore’s increasingly urban and technology-focused landscape, students can appear to be quite separated from the natural world. Decreased exposure to the natural environment not only reduces children’s knowledge about their surroundings, but also undermines their ability to comprehend the scale and urgency of some of the most concerning issues of our time, including climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Dover Green Heart aims to bring the wonder of the natural world to the centre of every child’s education. At UWCSEA, environmental stewardship is a major part of every child’s education and by supporting students to become eco-literate and helping them to develop the essential knowledge, skills and commitment to care, we hope to turn an ecological crisis into an exciting transformation of our economies and societies.

To this end, in 2014, a team of eco-visionaries began quietly dreaming and laying the foundations for the Green Heart project. Led by Nathan Hunt, UWCSEA’s Director of Sustainability, the team’s vision was exciting and expansive – they wanted the Green Heart to encompass functional spaces for the Student Environmental groups working to propagate indigenous plants, including a beautiful natural balcony for gatherings, and shaded outdoor classrooms – and most importantly, to be a natural playground where students could explore, wonder and engage with nature.

Robin McAdoo, UWCSEA parent and landscape architect, designed the creative concept for the space, which has evolved and grown over time, “From the very start, the investment by dedicated and conscientious educators was contagious and sparked my desire to help transform an existing void into a place to attract, comfort, and engage all who encountered it.

The Dover Green Heart will be the living, breathing centre of UWCSEA Dover, providing a respite from the tropical heat and a unique hands-on, learning environment for the community. The opportunities to care for and learn from nature will, we believe, provide the essential foundation for an education is truly transformational.

Generous donors have provided the initial funding for the project, but we still have a long way to go. It is anticipated that the first phase of construction will start in December 2018 and there will be flowers blooming, bees humming and birds nesting within six months.

Join us in Greening the Green Heart, click here to make your gift today.

 

Home, Sustainable development

The Solar for East Story

Solar For East is a student-led initiative that aims to implement more sustainable energy sources for the East Campus of United World College of Southeast Asia (UWCSEA). In early September 2017, fourteen Grade 9 students with a passion for clean energy, as well as the Facilities Department met to discuss the pressing issue of the school’s carbon footprint, as well as the possibility of launching a solar panel initiative on the campus. They then proceeded to create a proposal to share to the Board in November 2017, which was approved. As part of the UWC mission, this project aims to foster community awareness and spirit on the issues of clean energy and climate change, as well as allows the students involved to experience creating change and to take a lead in making a difference for the planet. The team is now currently working to install 1,130 panels across four different locations over the next few years in order to reduce the school’s dependency on unsustainable energy sources and reduce their impact on the environment.

Right now, the East campus consumes 5975 megawatts per hour of electricity each year. Electricity generation alone emits 7.65 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, clearly showing that our use of energy is unsustainable and a solution is needed, fast. Energy-related ventures alone account for 86% of all human-related greenhouse gases, and this pressing issue has become a lot more apparent in recent years, from droughts and floods to drowning polar bears. Luckily, many countries including Singapore are heavily contributing to working with renewable energy by funding renewable energy projects as well as the physical installation of solar panels. As the students did more research, the amount of carbon dioxide produced at their school inspired them to take action. UWCSEA emits approximately 2,480,363.17 Kgs of carbon annually, greatly contributing to the issue of climate change. With this initiative, we hope to save 173,625.4219 Kgs of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere, which will not only reduce the amount of money spent on energy but also greatly reduce the impact the school is having on the environment and global warming.

But how can you get involved?

1. Make a donation towards solar panel
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Buying a solar panel to go on the roof of UWCSEA East Campus would greatly help our impact on the planet, and just one solar panel would save 3,499.17 kg of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. For a gift of $600 you can buy a whole solar panel, or alternatively, buy parts of a panel for a lower price. Each dollar donated saves the emission of 5.83 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, so simply go on to the Solar For East website to make your contribution.

2. Reduce your reliance on air conditioners

The energy used by air conditioners is equivalent to the energy used by 11 fans. By switching to using a fan, you can save $400 every year. Even by letting the AC run for a little while, you can still save about $340 every year by using a fan.

3. Reduce energy wastage by turning off power sockets
We can save around $25 a year just by simply turning off unused power sockets. Use power strips instead and turn off groups of appliances when unneeded.

4. Practice sustainable consumerism
Rule: The more ticks, the better. You can save $270 a year with a 5 tick air conditioner and $75 a year with a 3 tick refrigerator.

5. Use appliances effectively
Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes and air dry them if possible. Save around $110 a year by switching off water heaters after use.

6. Cook smarter
Use microwaves and toasters to cook or warm leftovers. Keep the oven door closed while cooking as the temperature can drop by 25 degrees each time you open the door.

Following these 6 steps will bring us closer and closer to a cleaner tomorrow, and one step closer to ending global warming.

Our objective has always been to provide clean, sustainable energy solutions to the community of UWCSEA East, and with the help of an initial funding from the board and a lot of hard work, our goal can now be accomplished! We are now working directly on sales, as we set up our crowd-funding system in order to raise funds for panels. Our aim is to sell approximately 100 panels by the end of six months. We are working closely with the UWCSEA Foundation for the marketing of our campaign, and hope to gain support from all members of the community, including students, parents, alumni, and parents of alumni.

This blog post was written by the students leading the Solar for East initiative.

Events

The UWCSEA community unites: the UWCSEA Foundation Donor Celebration Event 2019

Set against the green backdrop of HortPark, the annual UWCSEA Foundation Donor Celebration Event saw over 150 donors and supporters gather on Tuesday, 19 February.

The evening celebrated the launch of the Foundation’s 2017/2018 Impact of Giving Report and highlighted how gifts are having a transformational impact across the community.

Over 65 student leaders and staff involved in programmes that have benefitted from funding from donors, including Adopt a Tree, Chinese Culture and History, the Dover Green Heart, the IDEAS Hub, Rainforest Restoration Project, Scholarships Programme, Solar for UWCSEA and Urban/Edible Gardening set up booths in an ‘exhibition’ format, where attendees could stop by, ask questions and engage in discussions.

Throughout the evening scholars acting as roving ‘conversationalists’; mingling with guests and sharing their unique stories about how support through the Foundation is directly impacting their learning.

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Chris Edwards, Head of College, opened the event, welcoming guests and thanking them for their support. His remarks were followed by an inspiring student panel discussion, moderated by Neha Patel, Foundation Parent Ambassador.

A few highlights:

Grade 11 student, Sarvasv, told his fascinating story of learning to code at the IDEAS Hub in Grade 8, and going on to win the prestigious Most Innovative Start-Up prize at the 2018 Ideasinc competition at Nanyang Technological University.

“Because of the IDEAS Hub I learned how to code, started teaching other people how to code, and entered technology competitions. The IDEAS Hub provides something I haven’t seen in any other school and if students want to do something, it really supports them to make their dreams true. Thank you to everyone who has supported us; without you, I wouldn’t have been able to do a tenth of what I’ve done so far.”

Grade 12 student, Khantey, a five-year scholar from Cambodia, who joined UWCSEA in Grade 8, spoke about becoming committed to service and her hopes for the future.

“Through my education at UWCSEA, service has become such a big part of my life and it has come to define who I am. This is really important for me because coming from Cambodia, economics used to define a person and education was only a means to escape from poverty.

The donors are very important and I hope from the conversations you have this evening, you can realize you are making a positive, ripple effect in the world. And I’m really, really excited to be standing in your spot in a couple of years’ time listening to the next scholars in the next generation. And I hope to see you there!”

In closing, Chris Edwards outlined:

I would like you to have faith in the UWCSEA Foundation, and I would like to think it is less about helping other people and more about liberating everyone, including ourselves, and that our mission statement – uniting peoples, nations and cultures – it’s not about a liberal elite acting in a vertical act of charity – it’s about global citizens forging a plane of horizontal solidarity. And a sincere thanks to each one of you for making that possible.”

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UWCSEA Scholars, 2018/2019

Event photo album

Home, Scholarship programme

Success! Mikael Mörn’s Big Mountain Challenge

Mikael Mörn ’92 and member of the UWCSEA Foundation Leadership Council, climbed not one but three of the world’s most remote mountain peaks, Mount Ararat (Turkey), Mount Damavand (Iran) and Mount Elbrus (Russia) in 2018 in aid of generating funds for a new UWCSEA scholarship opportunity.

From astride a mountain peak, Mikael sent a message to the alumni community, inspiring them to get involved and help make a difference. And how they rose to the challenge! As a result, UWCSEA will open its’ doors to a new scholar in August 2019. The goal is to offer this scholarship to a young person who has come from difficult circumstances, potentially as an Internally Displaced Person (IDP), and give them the opportunity of a life-changing UWC education.

“I do not know a group of more positive and passionate leaders of tomorrow than UWCSEA graduates – within that cohort, the grit and determination of scholars, who have often risen from incredibly challenging circumstances, makes them changemakers to watch!” Mikael Mörn

Read Mikael’s expedition blog here.

A huge thank you to Mikael for undertaking this extraordinary feat in support of the UWCSEA Scholarship Programme. Not only did his challenge raise substantial funds, but it also saw members of the alumni community come out in droves to support and cheer him on, rooting for his success, every step of the way!

Home, Scholarship programme, UWC Refugee Initiative

The UWC Refugee Initiative – Taking action for equality, justice and human dignity

To masses of cheering supporters around the world, 70 years ago today on December 10, 1948, the United National General Assembly adopted a landmark document enshrining principles of equality, justice and dignity for all – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UWC community has much to be proud of for their work in human rights and today we shine a spotlight on the UWC Refugee Initiative, which is changing the lives of young people living in the most dire of situations.

The UWC Refugee Initiative is a joint programme between the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UWC with the annual goal of offering 100 UWC scholarships to students of refugee or stateless status. In 2017, UNHCR estimated that more than half of the world’s school-age refugee children don’t have access to education, and UNESCO found that this lack of access heightens the risk of violence and conflict, creating a vicious cycle of lost educational opportunities, conflict and displacement for decades.

The Refugee Initiative is rooted in UWC’s commitment to make education a force for peace. Currently, funds have been raised internationally to offer nearly 50 UWC Refugee Scholarships every year. The UWCSEA community has funded four refugees to attend a UWC, some scholarships are made possible by pooling together funds from tens or hundreds of smaller donations, whilst others are made from the generosity of a single large gift.

Meet some of the refugee scholars studying at UWCs:

Sharon, Class of ‘20, Refugee Scholar from Sri Lanka

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Despite living through the civil war in Sri Lanka which tore her family apart, with her father missing and the family internally displaced, Sharon’s horizons have dramatically changed as she is now studying for an IB scholarship at UWC Atlantic.

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Nancy, Class of ‘19, Refugee Scholar from South Sudan

Nancy, from South Sudan, is studying for her IB Diploma at UWC Dilijan.

“After I joined UWC I began to feel so different, my nature has changed, I began to think differently and care about everything.

It is just miraculous how I found myself engaging with people from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds – all of us embracing the same movement. This opportunity is not only fulfilling my dreams but also giving my family and my community hope of future change.”

Mahmoud, Class of ‘19, Refugee Scholar from Palestine

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Palestinian refugee, Mahmoud, was overwhelmed to have been selected by the UWC National Committee for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon. In mid-2017, he flew to Europe to begin his new life at UWC Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“UWC has expanded my knowledge and given me different perspectives on issues. It changed me to be more understanding and encouraged me to look at each side of the story…I feel that I am the voice of all of those Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, who are still deprived of their basic human rights and have no one to hear their suffering.”

Lydia, refugee scholar from South Sudan, Class of ‘20

Lydia, another refugee from South Sudan, will soon be starting a fresh chapter of her life in Bosnia and Herzegovina at UWC Mostar.

Today, let us honour the monumental achievement that is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and keep working to create more opportunities for some of the world’s most needy young people; join us in supporting the UWC Refugee Initiative and help to shine a light in the darkness to transform young people’s lives.

Show your support for refugees. Make a donation today.