People of RCN

January 20, 2017

Mostak Rahman (’99 – ’01)

January 20th, 2017|

Losing my father whilst still a baby, living in poverty with a mentally ill teenage mother, life threw a curve at me at an early age. My grandmother could not afford two daily proper nutritious meals for us, and my uncle – at the age of 10 – had to quit school to earn money so that he could support four lives. This situation became a heavy burden for my extremely poor family – and I ended up in SOS Children’s Villages.

I grew up with 10 SOS siblings in a safe and secure environment with a lot of parental care. As a youth I started integrating with the outside society and realized that being brought up in an orphanage you were discriminated against by individuals in society and at school. I also realized that orphans were labeled as lower class and an object of pity.

1999 was the start of the next great turn in my life, when I won a scholarship to study at the UWC Red Cross Nordic. Through the ambitious academic education and not the least all informal learning that I was exposed to on campus, the RCN gave me an opportunity to discover my potential and thrive. I now see how important it was that the College so much emphasized mutual respect in addition to all the exiting knowledge that it opened up. Terms like peace, solidarity and sustainability was something I got clear ideas about both in their abstract and concrete forms – something to aspire towards.

Life is never without hardship, but after UWC I managed to study in Switzerland, USA and Norway, where I again managed to experience a verity of cultures in a climate of mutual respect. I attained a dual major Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and Hospitality management (BBA) from the Swiss Hotel Management School & Northwood University of Michigan. In 2011, I graduated with an MSc in Hospitality Leadership from the University of Stavanger. During my studentship at different institutes I got involved with students welfare activities and quality education. At the university of Stavanger, I served the institute and its students as the President of the International Students’ Union. Prior to joining UWC RCN I worked for SOS Children’s Village Norway as a coordinator in the Relation Marketing dept. and within the hospitality industry in Norway, USA & Switzerland.

Using the knowledge and skills learned at UWC, I have later managed to support many of my least fortunate SOS siblings and other youths. I have just started as an Oslo-based Development & Alumni Relations Officer at RCN, and am happy to join the team to advance the kind of education I myself have benefited from. Supporting education and personal nurture is a long term investment that makes individuals become resources for society and enable us to live with dignity. I am excited about the next stage of life with my wife Sagorika Chowdhury in Oslo and look forward to engage with all supporters of our task – to make education a uniting force.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

Mostafizur (Mostak) Rahman

Jacob Yath Deng (’15 – ’17)

January 10th, 2017|

“The greatest thing any person could do is to help another person. So if you can aid the people around you – that’s enough; there is nothing greater than that.” Jacob lives by these values and they guide him in his academic pursuits. Aspirations to study pharmaceutical chemistry lie at the forefront of his mind. The reason for this specific area of interest is his ambition to later improve the public health system back home in South Sudan.

Jacob’s faith has prepared him and inspired his goodwill. His favorite book is the Bible and particularly important words for him come from Ecclesiastes 1: 9: “There is nothing under the sun that hasn’t been done so you should live your life to the fullest”. The book speaks to him about work and life in general. Living at RCN, Jacob‘s Christian values haven’t changed despite the secular environment. In his family back home he would attend church every Sunday and participate in other activities during the week as well. The church is a uniting factor in his community and when he reached a certain age, he himself became a Bible studies leader.

The academic drive that he possesses cannot however, be credited to anyone but Jacob himself. He was always eager to learn as a young child. Growing up with his grandmother, he didn’t attend school until he was seven. He would see his friends go to school and he wanted to take part as well. When his brother graduated and started working he put Jacob in school. There was never any need for external discipline due to Jacob’s self-sufficiency. Experiencing poverty in his early life made Jacob appreciate the privilege that education is and a wish to help others motivated him in his academics. Jakob has just returned to start the term in which he is going to graduate. He is aiming for further studies at University, most likely in the US, and later he wants to return home to apply the knowledge he has acquired.

Rose Esfandyari (RCN ’16 – ’18)

December 5, 2016

Vibeke L’Orsa Mortensen (1995 – 2016)

December 5th, 2016|

We would like to profile Vibeke in the last week of this term in our ‘People of RCN’ section of the UWC Red Cross Nordic website as this provides us with the opportunity to thank her for her wonderful support of the College since it was founded.

For the past twenty one years, Vibeke has been responsible for 54 students on our campus from SOS Children’s Villages based in 18 different countries. She has been a wonderful source of support and inspiration for all of them – and I simply do not think I have ever met someone with a kinder heart. William Wordsworth, the English poet, perceptively wrote that ‘The best portion of a good [person’s] life: [are their] little, nameless, unremembered, acts / Of kindness and love.”

Vibeke has, through her acts of kindness and love, been the patron saint of the SOS children at RCN.

On the Red Cross-themed TV Action / Global Concerns Day in late October, the students and staff sang happy birthday in the auditorium to Vibeke to celebrate her 70th birthday and retirement from SOS Children’s Villages. At a dinner in Oslo on the 1st December, Vibeke was given a bouquets of flowers and thanked by the College board and Oslo-based Council members for her outstanding commitment to students on our campus.

Vibeke has a standing invitation to visit the campus, the students and staff whenever she likes.

As she said in her speech at the dinner in Oslo, ‘I started my career as a volunteer and I look forward to being a volunteer in support of these SOS students for many years to come’.

November 14, 2016

Ezequiel Jimenez (’07 – ’09)

November 14th, 2016|

Where to start? The fjord. Fiskekake. The boathouse. The K building. World Today. Mariano. Kåre S. Pete. Daniel. MT. Winter. Tea. Being cold. The 3km trip to Flekke shop. The room temperature. The fifth umbrella of the year. A show. Lots of music and the love of my life. Ah, yes, and the IB.

RCN was a transformative experience changing every bit of whoever I was in 2007. An inexplicable place where possibility is infinite as is the bond that unites a community in the middle of nowhere. The explanation I give to people when trying to explain RCN and what it means to me, always falls short of an explanation of some sort of social experiment where we play to mirror what the world is or ought to be. I wish the world was a tiny bit of what RCN is.

The strong foundation of critical thinking and immense curiosity for understanding and celebrating diversity led me to pursue human rights as a passion. Building on Naren’s human rights class (and Matthew’s during my first year) I was fortunate that Mark and Nicky were an endless source of advice and encouraged me to attend Macalester. Pursuing perhaps a traditional UWC path, I studied Political Science and got to intern and work in various places that continued to feed into a set of intellectual and practical skills within human rights. However, as challenging and enriching Macalester was, I’m not so sure it compares with a Kantina conversation about the state of the world over tea. The certainty of really knowing how to fix the world is a feeling I only had in RCN and have every time I am lucky to return. It’s an incredible sensation of possibility, certainty and empowerment.

Decided to dig a bit further into the machinery of policy making I pursued a masters degree in human rights policy in the UK, Sweden and Norway. For two years I was lucky to devote time to the question of how to make and measure human right-led interventions. The time spent in Norway and Sweden was particularly enriching as I realized that some of my social policy biases are indeed, very Nordic. Fortunate to arrive in the London in a pre-Brexit world, I started working with Amnesty International, trying to materialize my Kantina-like feelings. Currently, I work in the Office of the Secretary General giving technical support to Amnesty’s offices around the world. As frustrating and challenging working in human rights might be, I am encouraged by knowing that there will come a time when my dear RCN and UWC friends around the world will start calling the shots, making sure those countless nights of debate, tea and overpriced First Price cookies were well spent.

And, at time of writing this, there is an urgency for UWC to do its part in putting a sustainable future before ambition, and before bigotry. Knowing that we belong to a principled way of thinking about service and peace, I am confident that even in a Trumplandia world, we can be part of a path showing respect, curiosity in the other and love for what makes us different, unique. I have an unshakeable trust in the people of RCN to lead the way.