News from the College

Justin Tata (’00 – ’02)

As a young boy, I soon had to get used to fleeing from the violence of civil war. For two years, we roomed the jungles. During the day, bombs rained on us, and at nights we were constantly on the move. I made it to Kaya, a small border-town with Uganda, leaving my siblings and some family members behind. Evenings and mornings were filled with burial activities. Children, men, women and the elderly all died in numbers. At this stage, I accepted that one day it would be me. However, somehow I made it across the border into Uganda.

Having reached relative safety from immediate threats, a main challenge now was being to afford an annual fee of $2 for primary education. I then was accepted at a secondary school in the largest town in northern Uganda. My school fees were covered by UNCHER, but I had to overcome the transporting to and from school myself. I was so happy with two meals of beans, lunch and dinner for the four straight years. Doing well in the class, I was notified by the UNHCR education program to keep working hard. Two years later I was accepted at UWC Red Cross Nordic.

The first person to welcome me at Oslo airport was an alumna, who requested me to pick up my baggage at the conveyer belt. She was puzzled by my reply that all I had was this small hand bag. Arriving in Flekke, students and teachers were welcoming and full of life. Social life was so exciting that it almost made me forget where I came from. Studies were challenging, but manageable. During my second year, some of the questions I had about politics made it harder to focus on academics. My knowledge about the world grew so much, but my understanding of reality was still insufficient. My house mentor was helpful in walking me through life, encouraging me to let go of my past. I was silently praying to get my feet into any college and finally, I received an offer to College of the Atlantic in Maine.

My College dreams were short-lived by the events surrounding the 9/11. Getting to the USA was near impossible for a refugee student with Geneva Convention Travel Document as passport. But I did not give up and after 111 days received my entry visa to the US. Although interesting, life there was not all milk and honey. In 2009 I graduated with a master degree in urban and regional planning, then moving from California to Maryland and Boston, before moving back to South Sudan.

My return to home in South Sudan, was the best choice for me, but at a high cost too. I got to experience first-hand independence of the world’s youngest nation and took part in the forefront of nation building. Due to tribal discrimination, I failed to get a job with UN-Habitat. But I continued to search and after seven months got a lower level job, where I was equally paid with certificate holders. It was still in one of my areas of expertise, land reform programs. It was for the South Sudan Land Commission, sponsored by the Canadian Government, implemented by UN-Habitat. After nine months without receiving any payment I left the job and started my own practice for architectural and urban planning – where my services were taken for free by respectful government officials. In order to survive, I shut down the practice and joined Tetra Tech ARD to implement a USAID land reform program. I became responsible for this in my home state of Western Equatoria and delivered the first successful land reform of its kind in the nation. The US ambassador, Susan D. Peige, and the USAID Country Director, for the first time travelled outside the capital Juba to attend the inauguration of my land reform project. A well-established country land authority; I personally designed and built the simple structure and trained the staff.

On December 15 2013, we were back into another civil war. I returned to Juba, working for the City Council for 6 months, without receiving payment. But I liked my work, leading the team on installation of the first solar powered traffic signal/lights in the country. I dedicated much time with work on awareness campaigns with the City Mayor on national TV and radio, educating the nation on the use of traffic signals. Something so little could have much impact, not only on saving lives and protecting property, but also putting smiles on faces. Given a level of illiteracy at 87%, the army used to think that the red traffic lights were meant for them since their vehicle plate numbers are coloured red. The yellow lights were also misinterpreted to be meant for government officials since their vehicles have yellow plates. Green were for the commercial vehicles, leaving no rights for private cars on the road. Those misinterpretations soon died after our campaign, even though I was often challenged by officials who did not like the effects of it.
My second project was installation of street signs to help emergency response operations. I continued to support the Ministry of Roads and Bridges in collaboration with NTU/AS from Denmark, who were developing a nationwide human resource development program for the transport sector. This again was interrupted by the July 2016 outbreak of war in Juba, when I lost my house in a bomb shell. At this stage I had also began to lecture for the University of Juba on architecture and urban planning. I was made Head of the Department and later Acting Director to upscale the Department of Architecture to a new School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The new school hosts three departments: Architecture, Urban Planning and Land Administration. My university joined Eastern Africa Land Administration Network (EALAN), a consortium of 12 universities in eight East and Central African countries, where I was later elected Executive Secretary for the regional network. We are supported financially by the NUFFIC Funded program of the Dutch embassy in Kegali, Rwanda.

Despite all the blessings and the progress I have made, there is no shortage of difficulties. Inflation has hit us hard. In just 3 months, the value of a civil servant’s salary dropped from $5,000 to $60 a month. Despite these hardships I continue to embrace the little gifts life bestows on me and truly value living and working in my country – making my contributions to building it up. For me, nation building has many fronts, from providing equitable land access to influencing curricula and education programs. My work in land reforms is now extended to include the East and Central African region. And I do serve as chair of UWC Sudan, with the aim that this will also be a contribution to build my country.

May 22nd, 2017|

Jubilee Fund – Support Us

September 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of UWC Red Cross Nordic and provided us with the opportunity to celebrate the history of the College and its commitment to peace and a sustainable future. As part of the celebrations we established an RCN Jubilee Fund with a view to providing financial support for some key projects.

Larry, our Rektor, and Tøve Veierod, the Chair of the Board, wrote to all our friends and supporters. Please find below the text of their letter and also a short video introduction by Arne Osland (Director of Development) to the purpose of the Foundation Year Programme:

Re: UWC Red Cross Nordic Jubilee Fund and the Davis-UWC Impact programme

Dear UWC RCN supporter,

This year is UWC Red Cross Nordic’s 20th anniversary year and it provides us with opportunity to celebrate the history of the College and our commitment to peace and a sustainable future. Following on from the annual Council Meeting in April 2015, we have decided to create an RCN Jubilee Fund.

We have been encouraged and inspired by the genuine enthusiasm for RCN and its future that is shared by alumni (circa 1900 worldwide), parents, former staff and supporters. Members of the RCN family are our ambassadors across the world, our network, our voice beyond the fjords. Indeed we meet so many engaging and engaged supporters – often asking how they can give back in a tangible and helpful way.

At the heart of the new design for RCN’s Strategic Plan is financial sustainability. As the College moves into its third decade, we need to lay important foundations for the future development of this College. Each UWC has its own distinctive identity, character and atmosphere – and it is important that we work together to ensure the future of the unique educational opportunities RCN offers to students from across the world. All this, however, comes at a cost and the reality is that, as a College, we receive in income from the Nordic region less than needed to offer a first rate educational experience to the next generation of students.

At an event in Hong Kong last November, a parent of a former student kindly gave the Rektor an envelope with a cheque inside and asked him to direct the donation to something special. After consulting student representatives, we decided to spend the money on buying Christmas presents for all students unable to go home for December and who were on our Winter Programme. The Christmas before, the College received a card from a Malaysian alumna with some Norwegian bank notes tucked inside with a note saying: ‘note for alumni: don’t forget what RCN gives you and try to give back when you grow up’. Both examples illustrate the willingness of our network to support the College and its projects – but it is imperative that we enable financial support of the College by providing a coherent and coordinated fundraising programme.

With this in mind, we are establishing an RCN Jubilee Fund with a view to providing financial support for some key projects. Marianne Andresen, a dedicated supporter of the College since it was founded, has generously offered to launch the Jubilee Fund by donating a building to partner the Silent House as part of the ‘Nordic Tun’ on the south side of the campus; this building will contain a baking oven and will be an educational resource – and a source of enjoyment – for our students, Red Cross summer camps, and other visitors.

Every gift makes a difference and is vital to our success. Your support will have an immediate impact on the lives of our students. All donations will be attributed to the RCN Jubilee Fund with the option for donors to be acknowledged on the Jubilee website and in the next edition of the RCN Annual Report. Our current fundraising priority is:

Provision of Jubilee Scholarships: financial support for a Foundation Year for those from conflict / refugee backgrounds who are unable to complete the IB programme in 21 months due to disrupted learning and / or language difficulties;

Your donation whether it is a regular or a one-off gift, combined with those of others, makes a significant impact upon the quality of the RCN experience of current students and is much valued and gratefully received.

UWC International announced at the beginning of August a USD $15,000,000 funding boost through a gift by American philanthropist, Shelby M C Davis. Mr Davis’ gift acknowledges the continuing appeal of UWCs’ internationally recognised education model, which has deliberate diversity of the student body and education for community leadership at its heart. In practice for RCN, under the Davis-UWC Impact programme, new and increased charitable donations from alumni, parents and friends up to the value of one million dollars will be matched dollar for dollar, thereby doubling contributions. The programme is designed to stimulate a significant increase in giving from supporters to UWC boosting our capacity to meet the demonstrated financial needs of gifted students from financially less advantaged families and further increase the socio-economic diversity of our UWC campuses.

We value the engagement with our supporters and we have lifted our level of connection through the development of our Facebook page, website, a monthly newsletter and regular alumni events. Over the past three years, we have held events in London, Helsinki, Malmø, Reykjavik and Hong Kong, and we are planning further events in London, Stockholm and Oslo before the end of this Jubilee year.

Please find attached our Annual Report – a printed encapsulation of our work which serves both as a reflection on the year gone by and the direction in which we are going – and please follow us on the newly launched Jubilee website. There are clear instructions on the Jubilee and College websites as to how to donate.

We sincerely hope that, for the years to come, you will continue to contribute to the architecture and future of RCN and, in the spirit of both the founders of the UWC movement and RCN, you help to enable the next generation of students to benefit, in turn, from the stimulating and challenging education we hope you received at this College.

Thank you.

With best wishes

Richard D A Lamont                                Tove Veierød
Rektor                                                      Chair of the Board

Our current fundraising priority is:

Provision of Jubilee Scholarships: financial support for a Foundation Year for those from conflict / refugee backgrounds who are unable to complete the IB programme in 21 months due to disrupted learning and / or language difficulties.

Here, Director of Development Arne Osland explains the purpose of the Foundation Year Programme.

May 22nd, 2017|

Graduation Ceremony 2017

Graduation took place on Saturday 20th May at UWC Red Cross Nordic. It was a pleasure to welcome so many families, host families from our local community and other guests on Friday evening for dinner in the Høegh and then a cultural show – all coordinated by the first year students. The ceremony took place in a beautifully decorated auditorium at 14:00 on Saturday and consisted of speeches, a slideshow, a special video for the occasion (see here and below), musical performances and the formal graduation procession. The Rektor, Richard Lamont, opened the ceremony with a welcome address and introduced our Guest of Honour, Hans Von Sponeck. Hans has served as a UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq and has won several international prizes for his work towards peace. He is a staunch supporter of UWC and has worked tirelessly over the years to enable students from Iraq to attend our schools and colleges.

Liv Ronglan, the RCN Board Rep for the Norwegian Red Cross, gave a powerful address about the College’s partnership with the Red Cross and the role our students can play in the future. Her address was followed by speeches from Gunhild Berge Stang (Mayor of Fjaler), from second year students (Tess Luttikhus from the Netherlands and Adrian Sidhu from the UK) and the farewell message was given by Tove Veierød (our outgoing Chair of the RCN Board).

Many of the parents of our second year students were unable to attend the ceremony – and therefore we have posted lots of images, recordings of speeches and musical performances on faceboook and a copy of the graduation ceremony programme so that our whole community can connect with the occasion.

For a copy of Larry’s welcome address, please click here; for a copy of Hans’ speech please click here; and for a copy of Liv Ronglan’s speech, click here.

Graduating Students

Graduating Students

Congratulations to all our graduating students!

Graduation 2017.What a day. This is the video the students made for showing during the Graduation Ceremony. Thank you to Nik and Maja. Video of the ceremony, and photographs of the day to follow ….

Posted by UWC Red Cross Nordic on Samstag, 20. Mai 2017

For an album of photographs, click here.
For a playlist of videos, click here.

May 22nd, 2017|

Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

May 8th marked the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, celebrating the Red Cross Principles in action all over the world.

At RCN students and staff could take pictures with statements expressing solidarity, calculate their personal slavery footprint, indicating the number of slaves that work for each and everyone of us, win a cupcake if they knew all the seven principles of the Red Cross, and take part in several other activities.

The newly-founded Red Cross Youth Group at the College organized all events, trying to emphasize the connection between the school and the Red Cross.

We were very happy with the turn out of the day, as many people had conversations about the Red Cross Principles and their meaning both for us here and in other places in the world.

See an album of photographs here.

May 16th, 2017|