The reunion for the classes of 2002 and 2003 was held at the College over the long weekend of the 9th-13th August. Alumni had travelled from many parts of the world to be back together in Flekke. Everything had changed – there were partners and children, unexpected careers, a kaleidoscope of challenges and joys … and nothing had changed: the years melted away, and people who hadn’t met in so long slipped easily back into conversations started 10 years earlier.
Rektor Larry gave a welcoming address on the first morning, beginning by using the metaphor of wild salmon who return to the river of their birth (read the text here); after the address there was a then a tour of campus to show off some of the developments that have happened over the last decade. Some of the alumni offered short presentations in the auditorium about their work – perhaps better to do it once for everybody rather than telling it 100 times to individuals! And in the Kantine, over lunch and dinner (not that many made it for breakfast – plus ça change…) it was wonderful for our Summer Course participants – those just starting out on their UWC adventure – to hear from those who had gone before. But of course, for most of the time they did what they had come for – to catch up with old friends.
Many thanks to all those who worked so hard to organise the weekend.
Here follow reflections from several of the returning alumni (many thanks to Vanessa for collecting them):
Talha Khan, Pakistan, RCN 2003
“…there was also the realisation of how special our two year experience was and how it has permanently shaped us…”
I had a wonderful, if somewhat intense and overwhelming experience seeing familiar faces at reunion. It seemed like a time warp; it felt as if we had only left Flekke a mere two years ago. Much has changed of course – we are all adults, and there were quite a few significant others and children present. But even these new additions felt oddly familiar, and there was a degree of comfort in having them around us. I was also surprised by how pleasant it was to interact with people who I had not had much time to overlap with previously.
I was touched by the kindness and generosity I experienced among those present. I think we were genuinely pleased to see each other doing well, and proud to hear of our accomplishments. There was also the realisation of how special our two year experience was and how it has permanently shaped us.
I returned to London rejuvenated and inspired. I am keen to make a greater effort to stay in touch with both friends and RCNUWC itself.
Ville Keränen, Finland, RCN 2003
“…there were so many shiny eyes around…”
For me, the re-union was amazing. It was incredible to see all the people who I had not seen for up to 10 or 11 years. We have had such a strong shared experience, so it felt really good to be back together. I had never experienced that feeling before. I knew the people, I knew the faces, and there were so many shiny eyes around. People were happy to be back together.
The usual questions to talk about were how are you, where are you and what are you up to. This usually happened when you hugged and met for the first time. But there was much more – we also also talked about humor, irony, love, health, work, business, lean manufacturing, dialogue, the spirit of UWC, and the list goes on.
For me it is super cool and inspiring when my I realize that my current work is aligned with fellow UWCers. I see so much potential there. During the re-union we exchanged book recommendations and agreed to do future ventures together. Also adventures (the trans-Siberian train still waits for me and Yonatan)! One night in the Høegh kitchen, we also built a team of people who have experience in health care, business, innovation and Africa, to potentially form up a dream team for a start-up that would focus on health care in Sub-Saharan Africa. We haven’t yet defined the innovation idea, but we have now a high potential team to start with. Another thing I realized at the re-union is that each of us has come quite far. We are young specialists from many fields. I had trouble understanding what my fellow higher physics students are doing now, but high-level stuff it is for sure.
I came back home with many strengthened friendships, loads of energy and inspiration and encouragement that I am on the right track. I am very happy and grateful for this experience at the reunion, as well as for the initial UWC experience.
Vanessa Redditt, Canada, RCN 2003
“…I left longing for more time with such dear friends…”
These small words can’t contain the immense gratitude, warmth, and joy I felt returning to Flekke and our wonderful UWC community. The past ten years seemed to dissolve away and I was embraced back into a familiar world of love, affectionate support, curiosity, stimulating diversity, and open minds; I felt I had come home. The sleepless nights, insightful conversations, and genuine kindness echoed the magical, intense years we shared in Flekke, but they also express the enduring depth of our connectedness, no matter the time and distance. Our UWC experience nurtured and profoundly shaped us, and it was so inspiring to see the many paths people have taken since—fighting human rights abuses, innovating green energy, opening children’s minds through art, and more – and, as importantly, the spirit with which they engage. I left longing for more time with such dear friends, but also feeling energized by our beautiful community. So much love.