Two years ago, the students of the inaugural class of the UWC Robert Bosch College traveled from 71 countries to Freiburg to shape a new United World College (UWC). The college has now bid them farewell in an official ceremony.
In his speech to the school community, Dr. Christof Bosch raised several questions: How can we unite the people of the world for the causes of peace, justice, and sustainability? Bosch argued that no one really knows the answers. "These questions are only formed in the creative process that takes place during our lives. There are no prepared answers that we can Google. The answer we provide lies in the life we live. And now it’s your turn!"
Coming Together as Students - Leaving as Friends
Graduates Luizer from Kenya and Lucius from the United States used a final speech to reflect on the past two years: "We have seen with our own eyes how people from hostile societies can live together in peace and form deep and meaningful friendships with each other."
The farewell ceremony was also a moving occasion for principal Laurence Nodder: "Just like our former Honorary President Nelson Mandela, I continue to believe that education is the most powerful tool for changing the world. It is a slow process, but it’s the most effective one I know."
What the Future Has in Store for the Students
The majority of the 102 students will go on to study in the United States (40%), Germany (7%), the United Kingdom (7%), Canada (5%), or another country. The rest will either take a gap year or aim to secure further training. Seven students have been accepted to Ivy League schools such as Princeton, Brown, Columbia, and Yale.
Meet Three of the Students:
Fatou Diop, 18 years old, grew up in Rufisque, Senegal, a city about the same size as Freiburg. She describes the region as rural: "When I came here, it was already clear that I wanted to be an environmental engineer with energy as my focus area. Here, I realized how little I knew about the scope of the umbrella term ‘environment’ - how we consume energy, the fact we eat meat, the fact we travel by air, etc. Here, I understood that it’s not only about intelligent energy concepts and overarching policies, but also about the awareness of each and every individual. It was extremely appropriate that we completed our invaluable process of learning together and sharing ideas here in Freiburg. Freiburg is an inspiring model of what the city of the future might look like. It’s a cycling city in which people treat the environment with a great deal of care and thought. I have been awarded a scholarship to study at a US university, where I will study chemical engineering before focusing more closely on environmental issues. One day, I want to help village communities in my home country take the initiative in generating their own electricity. It’s no good just waiting for the government to do something; it’s better to become self-reliant. In ten years, I would really like to play a part in making life better for the rural population in my country. It’s what we need, because there is a lack of agricultural products due to rural flight. By the way: I’ll also come back here in ten years for our ten-year reunion."
(Julia Littmann, Badische Zeitung)
Two years ago, Daniel Dejapin, 21 years old, made the journey from Manila to the UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg. Daniel and his family lived in extreme poverty in the Philippine capital. As a child, he spent six years alone on the streets. Nevertheless, the gifted youngster went to school every day and was accepted to the UWC two years ago. Initially, the unfamiliar customs were a challenge for Daniel. Not only were there big differences between German and Philippine culture, but the ways of the other students were new to him too: "At first, I sometimes didn’t know how to act or what to say. I was therefore very cautious in everything I did." But he soon realized that all his fellow students had come to the UWC Robert Bosch College to share ideas, learn more about each other’s life stories, and to learn from each other. "It’s what I call ‘the UWC spirit,’" he explains. He points out that the school has helped him see issues in a global context. Once he has completed his education, his aim is to help children in Manila, which is why he will embark on a psychology degree at Luther College in the United States in the fall of 2016. "Here, I have learned to think critically and to question things," he says, sure that his new skills will help him in the future.
Zawer Sulaiman, 19 years old, is from Damascus, Syria. His family fled to Russia, where he grew up. He then applied to the UWC: "I wanted to live and learn with people from all over the world. I found out about the school on Facebook - and I liked the sound of it. I then attended a short course in Istanbul, which was excellent. What impressed me most was the element of surprise. For example, I made friends with people who I never even would have imagined meeting in the first place. As far as my career interests are concerned, I was somewhat undecided at the start - and I still am. Two years ago, my interests lay more in natural sciences, but now I am swayed more by something in the field of social sciences. I have been awarded a scholarship and will be going to Canada to study philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of British Columbia in August. Prior to that, I will be participating in the short course at the Robert Bosch College, as I want to help others have the same opportunities here as I did. What do I want to do in the future? I don’t want to put myself under pressure with concrete goals, but rather take life as it comes. I would like to write - ideally for TV. But maybe I’ll end up working for an NGO, a nongovernmental organization, one day. That’d be great. Oh, and I definitely won’t have a family before I’m 30."
(Julia Littmann, Badische Zeitung)