Dinner with Scholars: a conversation with young people at the heart of the UWC mission
By Molly Fassbender, UWCSEA Foundation
In November 2018, the UWCSEA Foundation Parent Ambassadors invited parents and students to a very special evening, a Dinner with Scholars. Hosted on two consecutive evenings at East and Dover campuses, the event offered the community a unique chance to immerse themselves in the stories of scholars’ lives, to learn how and why they had come to UWCSEA and the impact their scholarships have made so far.
Kicking off at 6pm, staff, parents and students were greeted at the doors by the team of Foundation Parent Ambassadors (armed with delicious strawberry mocktails). Dave Shepherd, Director of Advancement, and Chris Edwards, Head of College, warmly welcomed the crowd with their opening remarks, setting the scene for an extraordinary evening.
On each evening, a Parent Ambassador moderated a small panel of scholars at the front of the room, answering questions and sharing their experiences with the audience. And from the moment they started speaking, the audience was captivated:
“In Cambodia, I don’t have the opportunities to help others, but here at UWCSEA I do.” and “Whatever I thought I would never do at home, I have ended up doing it here!” Polen, Scholar from Cambodia
“UWCSEA has given me amazing opportunities for personal development, an international perspective, expanded my viewpoints and prepared me for future experiences.” Dusan, Scholar from Serbia
“I was so overwhelmed when I saw the Activities sign up list, but I remembered that I came here because someone saw the potential in me, and that has carried me through and given me strength.” Michelle, Scholar from Kenya
Listening to the scholars' stories brought tears to many eyes and a sense of renewed appreciation for these students who have left their homes, families, and countries to join our community. As everyone sat down to enjoy homemade specialties from the potluck buffet, they had a chance to speak directly with scholars who were seated at the tables. Everyone had a chance to ask questions, and where younger children were interested in the practicalities of High School life asking such questions as “How much homework do you do every night?” and “What are your favourite snacks from home?”, parents wanted to know more about the scholars’ individual stories and their hopes for the future.
The Dinner for Scholars was a wonderful opportunity to share a meal and conversation with these young people who are at the heart of the UWC mission. A huge thank you to the team of Foundation Parent Ambassadors, led by Bettina Haupter, without whom this event would not have been possible.
Attendees shared their thoughts about the Dinner with Scholars:
“It was very interesting to hear from the scholars how hard it was for them to get into UWCSEA. It made me appreciate coming here every day.” Louis, Grade 5, student
“I really love the Scholar programme. It really enriches my children’s schooling experience by learning from children from different backgrounds and cultures.” Johanna, parent
"As a teacher, the Dinner with Scholars really brought home the importance of making connections with scholars beyond the ones we teach...the Dinner opened the door to meeting these incredible scholars and as Head of Grade 8 at UWCSEA East, I'm now thinking about how I can bring scholars in to talk to Middle School mentor classes or share their cultures at assembly." Jabiz, Middle School teacher
Collective giving through the UWCSEA Foundation continues to advance the vital UWC mission and enrich the transformational UWCSEA learning experience, in the classroom and beyond. If you would like to learn more about how the UWCSEA Scholarship programme is enriching and transforming lives, click here.