I believe that if every individual takes action we will create a powerful force, and I help my students understand their capacity to make a difference. I teach because I feel compelled to support younger generations to understand their worth as individuals who can contribute to the good of all humanity, and in the process flourish themselves."Alice Whitehead ’98, Educator, Humanitarian and Advocate for Change
One of my defining moments as a student at UWCSEA was in the main hall on Dover Campus. I remember it vividly. Our year group was shown a short documentary by the World Wildlife Fund which depicted scenes of animal cruelty around the world. It was set to the song Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. and I sobbed all the way through. I found it hard to grasp the injustice of what I had seen and could not fathom that we lived in a world where this kind of thing was possible.
Another powerful experience was my Grade 9 Outdoor Education trip to Ladakh. This was transformational for me on a level I didn’t understand at the time, especially the connection to Lamdon School and the exposure to the mountains and monasteries of Northern India. These are things I have returned to time and time again since the trip, and the sound of the prayer wheels ringing has never really left me.
The impact of my time at the College crystallised as I was filling out a job application to come and teach at Dover Campus in 2013. It was the easiest job application I have ever completed because I realised that I simply was every single element of the UWCSEA Learner Profile that I was being asked to reflect in the application. I realised these elements were entwined into the very fabric of who I am and this is testament to the impact of the five years I spent at UWCSEA.
I left the College in 1996, finishing school in New Zealand. I eventually found myself drawn to a career in education. My primary motivation in working with young people is to empower them to care about the world around them as much as I do. It is through education in all its forms that individuals develop the values and motivation to make a difference to the lives of others and the wellbeing of the planet.
It was natural to me that once in education I became interested in the concept of Service Learning, through which young people are immersed in hands on experiences where they are able to take action as agents for change. I completed a Masters in Educational Leadership, researching Service Learning and the theory underpinning it, and have witnessed many times the transformational nature of this type of learning in my classroom and in my time spent coordinating the Global Concerns programme in the Primary School. It is evident that these learning experiences are a profound way to enable students to see their value and foster the skills and qualities they will need to become the force for unity and peace that we aspire to be in the UWC mission.
A better world to me would be one founded on the core basis of love, connection, peace and unity. Connection encompasses self, those around us, and the natural world; humans would care deeply, seeing the interconnectedness in all things. We would work together to take care of each other as a priority, ensuring every person's basic needs are met above all other considerations, and that in doing so, the health of the planet that provides for these needs was also cherished.
Alice completed the GCSE at UWCSEA – explore the extensive options we offer to students on both campuses.