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
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!
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
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.
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
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.
As the school doors opened to another year in August, in poured the hurley burley brouhaha of excited children, chasing balls and friends, ideas and dreams. For new parents some things may have felt very familiar, it’s the bustle of any large international school, but spend a little time on the campuses and you start to pick up on the deep throbbing energy that is very particular to UWCSEA.
Here those wild, impassioned dreams, driven by hope, propped up by possibility and heady with optimism, are nurtured; challenged too, but not tormented to a mundane death of ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘unrealistic.’ It’s the pulsing UWC lifeforce that demands attention, where the inspiring ‘what if’s?’ and ‘why not’s?’ of students, staff and the community are ideas that are watered and grown because they could make our College, and this world, a better place.
Because we dream big, have huge goals and grand ambitions – like welcoming increasing numbers of scholars from the corners of the world to enrich the diversity of our student body, like greening our campuses as urban forests, and increasing our solar initiatives to lessen our carbon footprint, like introducing pioneering learning programmes and experiential initiatives to best equip students for life – then we need to go beyond the excellence expected of a great international school to the excellence expected of a great UWC.
Fundraising helps us fill that gap; so we are delighted to introduce the UWCSEA Fund – dedicated to advancing the philanthropic aims of the College and realising some of our most impassioned dreams. Since inception in 2008, the UWCSEA Fund has enlisted the support of the community to bring to life dreams like bringing more and more extraordinary scholars to the College, sustainability initiatives like Campus Composting and Solar for Dover & East (student-led initiatives) and the IDEAs Hub (a centre for entrepreneurship and creativity).
This week parents will have received a copy in the post box of the 2018 / 2019 UWCSEA Fund leaflet outlining our vision – click here for an electronic copy.
In the words of the legendary Marvin Gaye “Ain’t no mountain high enough… to keep me from getting to you…” UWCSEA alumnus and longtime college supporter Mikael Morn is moving mountains to ensure more scholars of promise and potential benefit from a life-changing UWCSEA education. Mikael set himself the ambitious challenge of scaling not one but THREE of the world’s most remote peaks in just two short weeks – whilst raising money for a fully funded scholarship at UWCSEA. What’s more, he’s matching donations – ensuring a double impact from funds raised.
It’s an ambitious test of physical endurance driven by a tremendous passion and belief in the UWC mission. But nearly two-thirds of the way in, Mikael looks on track to reach his goal. He’s already summited Mount Damavand in Iran on 28th August, and Mount Demirkazik in Turkey on the 1st September. Follow his blog and join Mikael, albeit virtually, climbing the final peak, Mount Elbrus in Russia.
Gifts to the UWCSEA Fund positively impact our scholar community in so many ways. While the cost of the UWCSEA scholarship includes flights to and from Singapore, it does not pay for family members to fly in and celebrate Graduation. Fund a Flight is a remarkable programme that brings scholars and their family together for this momentous occasion.
This year, thanks to the incredible generosity of our community, 19 scholars in the Class of 2018 graduated with a family member by their side.