UWC Schools Begin to Welcome Back Students
After a series of challenging months, we are very exited to share the news that UWC schools are beginning to welcome back students again! Young people from over 155 countries will come together to show that building bridges across countries and continents, and uniting people across differences, is still a very real possibility in 2020.
Of course the start of the academic year may be a little different to normal: with some UWC students still waiting for their visas to come through and for travel restrictions to be lifted, some having been transferred to a different UWC because they were unable to reach their originally allocated school, and others having opened up temporary ‘UWC bubbles’ closer to home, where they can live and learn together until it is safe to travel to their campus. Blended learning is in place until all students have arrived on their campuses and those few schools that are in areas that cannot be reached at all for the time being are kicking off the term with an exclusively online learning and community building programme. And all UWCs have adapted their protocols and campuses to be compliant with local Covid-19 related regulations and requirements.
Despite the challenges, the students and colleges are embracing the change and responding with great resilience and enthusiasm! As Kurt Hahn said, "There is more in you than you think". This message is as important now as it ever was, and we are amazed at the resolve of our community and movement, to unite with a renewed optimism ready to change the world.
Read on below to learn more about each of the 18 UWC schools' re-opening and how the Orientation Teams are pulling out all the stops to bring together the Classes of 2021 and 2022!
Those students able to travel to Italy started their quarantine at hotels in the Duino area on 21 August for an assortment of online meet and greet activities including yoga, themed dinners, ice-breakers, meeting the Rettore and pastoral care meetups. The second-years were additionally given time for the (slightly less fun) task of working on their Extended Essay drafts. The academic year will start in-person on 7 September, for those students who will have completed their 14 day quarantine by then. Other students will start the year online until they have travelled to Italy and completed their quarantine.
Second-years are due to arrive on campus on 4 September, while firsties are due on 11 September. You can find an in-depth outline of the measures and regulations in place from students’ arrival to the start of classes here - including the 14 day quarantine period for those arriving from countries that require quarantine in the UK on arrival. During this period, students will be accommodated in rooms of four, which will act as their household. Once quarantine has been completed - the whole college will act as one household! Classes will start on 18 September with blended learning, to accommodate for those on and off-campus.
UWC Changshu China
Chinese students arrived on campus from 3 August. Due to ongoing travel restrictions in China, overseas students will not be allowed to return for now but will be able to join classes online. All those who were able to return enjoyed reconnecting with each other - and to their virtual classmates - through a series of orientation activities (find photos here!). And some of those unable to return started their own UWC bubble: The Ranum bubble was set up by UWC Changshu China alumni and parents at an existing boarding school in Ranum, Denmark, and is now home to a group of UWC Changshu China, UWC Mahindra College and Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa students - all of whom would otherwise only had access to online learning. The students are supported financially (where needed), and are supervised by two UWC Changshu China staff members.
UWC Costa Rica
On 7 August, a second-year student from the Netherlands arrived at UWC Costa Rica. He joined 18 fellow classmates (and now alumni) who were unable to return home since March. By 25 August, 50 students from 38 nationalities had safely arrived in Costa Rica and are completing a very intentional, dynamic, and personalized quarantine. Watch this video of Louis (UWC Costa Rica, 2019-2021) traveling back to his second home and arriving on campus. The academic and co-curricular programme also started on 26 August with a blended education model that was designed so that all students, whether they are on campus or at home back in their countries, can be part of the UWC Costa Rica experience.
Overseas students started arriving on campus on 16 August and are busy in quarantine - with some using the time alone to work on their Assessments (in the case of second-years). Currently on lockdown, the campus is divided into zones and “bubbles” to ensure that people in quarantine do not interfere with those who have already completed it. The academic year will start online for all students - both on and off-campus - until 15 September, when in-person teaching is allowed to resume in Armenia.
UWC East Africa
Orientation started on 5 August, and despite some differences, many things remained the same - see here for photos of cultural show dances, puzzling and other activities that went ahead as usual! Classes started again on 17 August and are now progressing as normal for the students on campus. Those students unable to reach the campus will start the school year online.
UWC ISAK Japan
After the long summer, students started arriving back on campus on 18 August and student orientation began on 23 August. After passing a PCR test at the airport, they were brought to campus and assigned to a house to begin their 2-week quarantine. See here for more photos of members of Mount Iizuna House picking up the bento-box dinners set out for them on their porch as part of the special quarantine measures. The academic year will begin on 1 September with a blended (online and offline) learning programme, to accommodate those students who have not been able to return. This includes new students, for whom Japan is currently not processing visas.
Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong
Students arriving in Hong Kong first undergo the government’s compulsory 14-day quarantine in a hotel arranged by the College, where the student support team has lined up an array of online activities to keep them busy including fitness classes, gratitude practices, time for journaling and mindfulness, a privilege walk, goal setting, and Cantonese 101. You can watch their video guide to quarantine here. 39 overseas students have already completed quarantine and are now settling into campus life. Classes started on 24 August for second-years and Orientation Week starts on 31 August for first-years. Due to the recent tightening of Covid-19 restrictions, all classes will start online for on and off-campus students.
Residential students will be arriving this week and will be going into a ten-day collective quarantine on campus. Testing is arranged for all students from countries deemed 'high-risk' by local guidelines both the day after they arrive and one week later. The school has been in close contact with the Dutch Health Service in setting up these arrangements. Due to the group quarantine of the residential community, the IBDP introduction week programme (for both residential and day students) will be held online. The start of IBDP Academic Lessons is Monday 7 September, with staff also catering for those students who have not yet reached the college by then.
The school year started with a whole school Virtual Community Day on 17 August. With more than 240 Zoom windows, first-year students were introduced to their second-year peers and met all the faculty and staff members. Highlights have included a virtual tour of campus and nearby Paud village, a weekend hike up Waghazi which was streamed live for students and faculty to join, and recent graduates also logged into Zoom to speak to the newest MUWCI students about their experiences and lessons learned. Watch this video campus tour created by Mhd Mustafa (UWC Mahindra College, 2018-2020) to get a taste for the orientation experience and bring on some MUWCI nostalgia for any alums reading this. Academic classes as well as Triveni, CORE and Res-Life activities will start on 31 August and will be online only, for now.
UWC Mostar students have now started their isolation in a hotel, which means the launch of the isolation activities, carefully prepared by a team of second-years - the Sunday mix, for example included yoga, ice breakers, a poetry Workshop, a Q&A and a Netflix Party! You can watch the video introduction to quarantine here. Once quarantine is over, the students have the in-person induction week to look forward to with outdoor activities, workshops and more of a taste for UWC Mostar life. Classes will start on 7 September and will be held online and offline to cater to both on-campus and off-campus students. You can also read acting Head of UWC Mostar, Dženan Hakalović’s reflections on ‘the new normal’ here.
UWC Red Cross Nordic
Classes are in session and in-person!
Students started arriving on 1 August and, now that quarantine is complete, students are enjoying swims in the (surprisingly warm) fjord, have been on hikes in the wilderness and, since 24 August, are now back in the classroom. You can watch the new Rektor, Hege Myhre’s, welcome address to the students here. For the few students that have so far been unable to return, there is also online learning in place.
UWC Robert Bosch
The gates of UWC Robert Bosch College are now open, with most first-years and returning second-years having safely arrived on campus. Students undergo Covid-19 tests on arrival, either at the airport or on campus and remain in relative isolation in a ‘pod’ until their test results come through and - on 25 August - all students that had arrived by Sunday noon received negative Covid-19 test results, meaning orientation can begin! More students will join in for the in-person activities over the next few days and weeks as their test results come through. Classes will be offered both offline and online starting on 1 September for second-years and 2 September for first-years. And since a new announcement from the authorities informed UWC RBC that all students with the necessary visas would now be given an exemption to enter Germany, the school is hopeful that all remaining students will be able to arrive on campus for an in-person UWC experience by October.
The majority of Pearson College UWC students arrived on 24 August and are currently in a two week quarantine before being transferred to campus as one household. Students, faculty and staff alike were all involved in creating the online activities programme for ‘Quarientation’ for this first chapter of their Pearson experience. Classes will start on 8 September, in-person for those on campus, and online for those still due to arrive.
UWC South East Asia
Both UWC SEA campuses welcomed back students based in Singapore on 18 August. Due to ongoing travel restrictions the majority of overseas students, who did not stay with host families in Singapore over the break, began their online learning programme on the same day. Andrea Strachan, UWC SEA Dover Campus Head of K1 wrote this interesting and hopeful article on why there’s Still Joy and fun in socially distanced schools.
The campus opened its doors on 14 August after a successful inspection by the Ministry of Education. You can see a video of the health measures in place here, catch a glimpse of the first day at school through this photo album and read Kru Nicki Robertson’s reflections on the first day back here. Classes also began on 14 August, offline for those able to arrive in Thailand and online for all others who were affected by the limited number of international flights into Thailand and the required 14 day quarantine policy. For a more detailed overview of the Covid-19 measures in place at UWC Thailand, please refer to this handbook.
All those second-year students who were able to travel to the USA arrived on campus on 1 August and first-years arrived on 15 August, ready for a 31 August start to classes. Quarantine and Covid-19 tests took place as soon as students arrived, and once this stage is complete, they will be restricted to the campus except for wilderness excursions, outdoor ranch trips and essential appointments in town. Those students who could not travel to the USA yet will start courses online for the time being. You can read more about the UWC-USA back-to-school measures and the ways they are continuing to engage with the local community here.
Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa
As Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa operates under Southern Hemisphere term dates, they are now going into their third term. This will be conducted online starting from 9 September, as the current spike in Covid-19 cases is anticipated to last into October in the region.