Friday, February 14, 2014

Community Building

     The past couple weeks have been pretty exciting here at UWC-USA. Two weekends ago we held our Annual Conference (#conf2014), this year centered around the theme of non-violence and social justice. Through workshops, presentations, and casual chats with guest speakers, our students, as well as visitors from all over New Mexico and even Mexico, heard stories and words of wisdom relating to various social issues. Speakers included Oscar nominated film-maker and UWC alum Rick Rowley (of the film Dirty Wars), artist and volunteer Lily Yeh, Kingian peace-activist Kazu Haga, groups from the Beehive Collective and No More Deaths, as well as others.
     I personally really enjoyed this year's conference. With a theme much more related to what I want to do, it was incredible to see Rick's film and hear him speak about his experience in the Middle East and parts of Africa. He spoke of other trips in Central America and protests and movements in the U.S. (Independent Media Project) and the power of the people to demand honest news coverage. Last semester some of us also got to see Jeremy Scahill (the subject of Dirty Wars) speak in Santa Fe and it was intriguing to see one story portrayed through so many perspectives. Lily's work abroad and in the U.S. has dealt with community building through art. She spoke of working in New Jersey, China, and Rwanda and described the power visual art can have in healing and inspiring.
     This past weekend we also had guests, but this time for Alumni Connect- an annual gathering of six alums who speak with students about what they do and life after (or rather away from) UWC. We had five different classes and three decades represented, with alums working in government, feminist activism, social justice, the military, journalism, and healthcare. In classes and an evening panel, the alums shared stories and advice. As a second year, it was good to hear that leaving UWC does not mean ending this experience, but rather living how we've been taught, continuing to serve others, and pursuing our passions.
     Finally, some bittersweet news. This past week has been one that has challenged our community more than any other time this year. I think that as we're so privileged to be studying the world through our peers, experiencing these great events like Annual Conference and Alumni Connect, and often occupied by CAS and classes, it's easy to forget that we are in many respects just a bunch of kids. I won't go too much into what happened, but basically it came to light that our community (students, faculty, administration) are not as closely knit as we should be. There were many ways this issue could have been handled, and in the end the strategy was, in my opinion, effective. In a show of solidarity and will to change, maybe two thirds of the student body collected informally to discuss methods of community building and how to raise the overall trust and spirit on campus. Though challenging, I think that we as a student body proved that we have the power and the capability to mold our experience into one that is best for ourselves, for our community, and for our mission.
     It's been a busy fortnight, but one that has been largely positive. I look forward to the improvements we'll make as a school and the weekend as MAAD draws near.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Helping Others

One more plug for a friend. My co-year at Maastricht (UWC Netherlands) is working on a project against human trafficking. He and some friends will be walking from Maastricht, through Belgium, to Luxembourg City in an effort to raise awareness and funds to combat trafficking. He's asked for some help to spread the word and possibly raise donations. Please help him out and support this great cause:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Support Systems

Just a quick message to encourage anyone who believes in the UWC movement to support us. Shelby Davis (our wonderful sponsor) has offered to match the donations raised in 2014 up to one million dollars! The donations will be used to fund scholarships, the new agro-ecology research station, student initiatives, and other projects. Our mission is to "make education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future". Help us make a difference: