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So far Lasse Markus has created 38 blog entries.

Dorothy Dix (RCN 1996-1998)

2021-03-04T13:13:32+01:00March 4th, 2021|

Making Ideals Reality: Creating Better Futures For Children In My Home Community

Dorothy Dix (UWC Red Cross Nordic, 1996-1998) was born into poverty in Zimbabwe. She relied on handouts throughout her childhood but after showing potential at a local school in Zimbabwe, she was given the opportunity to study at UWC Red Cross Nordic at age 16.

Speaking of her experience at UWC, Dorothy says “UWC helped me to escape the challenges and poverty of my upbringing in Zimbabwe while simultaneously instilling the values of empathy, responsibility, and lifelong action.” After graduating from the University of Reading, she founded Creating Better Futures, a charity helping orphans and vulnerable children in her home communities in Zimbabwe. Dorothy’s leadership has lifted 5,000 children and their communities out of poverty by providing education, health, feeding and development programmes. In 2020, the charity also jumped in to protect children from COVID-19 by installing sanitation infrastructure and helping communities pushed into poverty by the lockdown. Dorothy wrote to us to share her story of how UWC got her to where she is today and what keeps her drawn to the work she does helping communities like the one she came from in Zimbabwe:

As a child I could never have expected to end up anywhere like UWC. I was born into poverty in rural Zimbabwe. I was raised by a single Mum who, despite making huge sacrifices and working extremely long hours, struggled to pay my school fees. It was only a combination of her hard work and an international sponsor that enabled me to attend school, even before UWC came along.

This wasn’t the only thing I received from Mum. I shared her work ethic and the value she placed on education. This allowed me to work hard for a scholarship to attend UWC. At the age of 16, I received a life-changing opportunity to attend UWC Red Cross Nordic in Norway.

When I arrived – it was a total culture shock. Growing up in Zimbabwe I had never seen snow.
But the atmosphere at UWC, and the brilliant friends I made, helped me to settle into this entirely different climate, country, and culture. And it was UWC’s emphasis on individual action and social change that inspired me to think about my place in the world, and how I could make a difference back home.

I wanted to make things better for people in my community. Growing up in Zimbabwe I always knew that things could be better. I had personally experienced that through a stranger’s kindness. They unleashed my potential when contributing to my education. Why couldn’t others do the same for young people in my community?

My UWC education played a key role in making this vision a reality. Two values stood out: a sense of idealism and personal challenge. I adopted these values to set out my idealistic vision for my charity – one where every child in rural Zimbabwe would grow up to achieve their potential and every community would be free from poverty. And thus, Creating Better Futures was born.

I found a real purpose in the sense of personal challenge required to deliver this change. I believed if I could just change one child’s life, my life would be complete. I looked back on my experiences at UWC – moving thousands of miles from home to study, having the opportunity to speak at the United Nations – as proof that this change was possible. I knew ideals could become reality.

My mission to give back to my home country of Zimbabwe was grounded in the core UWC values: compassion and service.  By attending UWC I was fortunate to receive one of the most rounded education’s on the planet. Unfortunately, many of my close friends back home didn’t have this opportunity. Our paths quickly diverted. Some continued with school, whilst others couldn’t afford their fees for college. I wanted everyone to have the same opportunity I had.

But of course it has not all been easy, the conditions in the communities we work alongside are a significant challenge. Last year it was estimated that 70% of Zimbabwean children were living in poverty. These conditions don’t just impact their daily lives, they also limit what they can hope to achieve over a lifetime. Our mission is to deliver programmes that enable people to overcome these conditions.

So what keeps me going through these challenges? Belief. Belief that things can be better. Belief in myself, and my dedicated team, to play a role in making a difference.

We also know the costs of inaction. People misunderstand poverty. Living in poverty doesn’t just mean you don’t have much money, or limited access to resources. Poverty conditions everything you do. There have been children who have dropped out of school, not because they wanted to – but because it was the best thing they could do to save money. I am driven to give these people the best opportunities.

And then of course there is the inspiration I gain from the enthusiasm and kindness of the young people we help. During the pandemic I received several reports of sponsored children in ZImbabwe who, with schools closed, had taken on extra care responsibilities for housebound elderley relatives. To think that these children, who often have very little themselves, still make huge sacrifices for others, is hugely inspiring.

Finally, I was asked to comment on why, amidst the many causes in need of our help, we should continue to support education and empowering youth. My answer is simple: empowering young people gives them their lives back. Everything is possible for a healthy, happy and financially secure young person. I was so fortunate to receive the support I did as a girl. Every child deserves the same opportunities I was fortunate enough to have been given by supporters of UWC.

Thanks to UWC International for letting us use this story. It was originatly published as an UWC Impact Story

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Changemakers

2021-02-09T12:19:33+01:00February 13th, 2021|

During the past year, four RCN students (Diva, Laura, Meg, and Ylva) have used the Changemaker Project as a platform to design and print educational posters as visual learning aids for a primary school in Liberia. As Changemaker finalists their project was fully funded by the Pollination Project – and the printed posters are currently in the process of being incorporated into the Advent Christian School in Liberia.

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Anna Sene (RCN ’18-’20)

2021-02-04T11:13:29+01:00February 4th, 2021|

Zooming In

Leaving Norway during the pandemic left me filled with uncertainties. First, I had to go to France to get my US VISA since the border closures prevented me from going home to Senegal. With God’s grace, it was granted to me, and now, about 5 month later, I can assert that Macalester College in Saint Paul Minnesota is my new home for the next four years of undergraduate life.

2020 being similar to no other year, my college experience described in one word would be Zoom. From classes to events, meeting people, and building connections, life has never been more virtual. Nevertheless, I am grateful for how my first semester at College has turned out.

I applied and got into a civic engagement group on campus called Lives of Commitment. Joining them gave me the opportunity to volunteer at a kid’s homework center, Skyline. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I help one or two kids with their homework from 2 to 3 p.m. I learnt a lot about patience, kindness, and compassion working with kids on problems that are easy for me but a real struggle for them.

Alongside my work at skyline, I also applied and got into the Student Academic Affairs Committee of the college. Here I meet with other students and staff members to discuss and find solutions to issues and concerns that impact student life at Macalester.

In addition, I have been journaling for the College Archives for a semester, as part of a project that seeks to represent more voices from minorities or groups that are often discriminated against. I wrote from a standpoint of a Black Muslim woman, Senegalese, and first generation student. I also wrote a couple of articles published in the College weekly newspaper.

This semester, I will join the Admission office as an International Student Ambassador for Macalester. I hope to interact with prospect students and help them get to know the college better.

My time at RCN has certainly helped me a lot to get all these beautiful opportunities. I still have a lot to learn and discover here at Mac and could not be more excited. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just want to talk.

Anna Sene (RCN 2020)

In People of UWCRCN you find stories of alumni or other members of our community. Here are the laterst.

Dorothy Dix (RCN 1996-1998)

March 4th, 2021|

Making Ideals Reality: Creating Better Futures For Children In My Home Community Dorothy Dix (UWC Red Cross Nordic, 1996-1998) was born into poverty in Zimbabwe. She relied on [...]

Anna Sene (RCN ’18-’20)

February 4th, 2021|

Zooming In Leaving Norway during the pandemic left me filled with uncertainties. First, I had to go to France to get my US VISA since the border closures [...]

Antonia Reininger (RCN ’16)

January 21st, 2021|

Working for Climate Neutrality Almost exactly one year ago today, the new Austrian coalition government took up its work, including one Minister responsible for the broad portfolio of Climate [...]

Simon Sizwe Mayson (RCN’07)

November 24th, 2020|

Simon Mayson and Chann de Villiers on the main stairwell in Troyeville House.(Photo: Chris Collingridge) Being awarded the scholarship to attend Red Cross United World College in [...]

The New Normal

2021-02-08T11:55:18+01:00February 2nd, 2021|

Nearly all students are now back on campus and we are in the full swing of the second term in an extraordinary school year.   About 50 of our students have stayed here locally throughout the recent break. They have kept up the spirit and supported each other at a time when it hasn’t been possible to be with their families.

A special thanks to our staff who have adjusted to the completely new needs and provided a fun, homely and festive holiday. Also, a big thanks to those who have contributed to support this work financially through the campaign undertaken by UWC Norway. This enabled us to buy each student on campus a warming Christmas present.

The students who have been at home during their break, have all been in full quarantine and testing, which is necessary in these times. We are excited about starting up again, first of all through what we have come to know as “blended learning”, and then fully face-to-face. Planning the logistics of how this comes together – under the continuously changing conditions that we all face during the pandemic – has been arduous. Yet, our dedicated team and the continuous support from relevant authorities and co-operation partners, have made it happen; we are here – ready for a new term.

There is much positivity and hope in the air at the start of 2021. Not only are the global vaccination programs now rolling out, with the prospect of a safer future, but we also see that reflection on the changes we’ve been forced through in the last year has brought about new opportunities. The world will not go back to normal after Covid -19. We will go back to the new normal, the changed normal, and maybe also the improved normal. Rough times are always full of learning. Education, as well as any other field, will consider our new normal and apply research and actions thereafter. I amexcited about fully discovering the new normal together with our brilliant people in the coming period; let’s see how RCN new normal will be shaped in the year by shared commitment and leadership.

Hege Myhre,

Rektor UWC RCN

News Archive