Our Jubilee event on Monday 21st September marked the ninth time in 20 years that her Majesty Queen Sonja has visited our College: a definite highlight in the two year stay for each student, and an honour for us as an institution. Her strong involvement is a living reminder of the value of our work to make education a uniting force. It was all meticulously planned in advance by staff, students and the Fylkesmann team.
The progamme started with the official opening of the Thor Heyerdahl Building and the Henry Dunant Building (named after the Norwegian Explorer / UWC International Patron and the founder of the Red Cross respectively).
At the opening ceremony of these two buildings, Director of Development Arne Osland spoke about the challenge of receiving the many that have been pushed out of their homes. It is the College’s ambition to find occasions for opening the buildings for recent immigrants, as we do during the summer with Red Cross camps ‘Holiday for all’. Thor Heyerdahl jr echoed his father’s words from the opening ceremony 20 years ago: ‘By living together and going to the same school, we learn from personal experience that we are all part of the one and only human family’ The choir for the day, led by Jorunn Bakke Nydal, was composed of RCN students, local Norwegians and recent immigrants to Førde. What would be more appropriate for the occasion than lifting us all with a rendition of ‘What a wonderful world’?
A main focus for the visit was value-based learning, voluntary service and ethical leadership – the underlying ethos of our Red Cross education. In practical terms this was done through stands of student work which exhibited projects which are part of the College’s extra-curricular programme – these exhibitions were open to HM the Queen and also our other 100 guests who were on campus for the Jubilee celebrations. HM Queen Sonja’s tour also included a Mountain Rescue scenario conducted by student First Aiders and some activities run by our students for patients at the neighbouring Rehabilitation Centre. Her Majesty took the time to talk to students in and outside of the planned programme.
In the evening, Her Majesty returned from the Royal Yacht ‘Norge’ and attended a drinks reception in the Høegh Building – some students and staff had erected a photographic exhibition on the theme of ‘Peace’ for this event. The drinks reception, dinner and Cultural Show were attended by our many Jubilee guests, including former Rektors, representatives from the Red Cross, Board and Council members, and supporters both local and from across the Nordic region. The Rektor gave the welcome and Jubilee Address at the start of the Cultural Show – please click here for the speech and programme.
We are proud to see the reflections of the visit on the Palace’s own home pages.
The challenge Her Majesty Queen Sonja gave to our students on departure will be shared with the rest of the UWC movement: ‘For the next 20 years you should double the number of United World Colleges – the world needs this’. What better encouragement for an education that holds knowledge and values equally high?
The Jubilee focused on the 20th anniversary of UWC Red Cross Nordic and the 150th anniversary of the Norwegians Red Cross with a real appreciation of the past – but, more so, these days have been dedicated to looking ahead for what the UWC and the Red Cross can achieve together. Alluding to Ben Okri in his Jubilee Address to Her Majesty the Queen, Rektor Richard Lamont is aspirational: “Our future [must be] greater that our past”.
For an album of photos from the day, click here.