The dramatic events surrounding the withdrawal of Western interests from Afghanistan and the resulting humanitarian crisis have touched our hearts and challenged our thinking in the last few weeks. Across the UWC movement, colleagues have been working tirelessly to help with the evacuation of some UWC alumni and students out of Kabul, others have supported Afghan members of the UWC community in other ways.
Some of you may have seen this news story (AFR, paywall article) of how a group of young UWC alumni came together to support their friend and classmate on her flight from the Taliban: a heart-warming story for these troubled times, and a true testament to the UWC mission and spirit!
As Hannah Tumpel, of the UWC International Office (IO), said to a meeting of the UWC International Board last weekend, “In this moment of darkness, we are beyond grateful to be part of a community that shows up when required most.”
As an educational movement, we are acutely aware of the enormous repercussions of the changing political situation on the possibility for Afghan youth—especially girls—to get access to education. To channel all the commitment for UWC to support Afghan Youth going forward, UWC International has launched an appeal to fundraise for up to 20 additional places for Afghan students to study at UWC schools and colleges: two scholarships have already been secured, and plans are well underway to support efforts to establish these life-changing opportunities.
Over the coming weeks and months, the International Board and the IO will be working with Heads, UWC National Committee volunteers, and other colleagues to build capacity for ensuring the continued outreach to and selection of Afghan youth throughout the world. As a member of the International Board, I will be sure to share updates with you as this work takes shape.
And in our 50th anniversary year, as we celebrate our mission of building peace and sustainable futures, we will have an opportunity on UWC Day on 21 September for a dialogue exploring perspectives on peace with Professor Kishore Mahbubani. Coinciding with the UN’s International Day of Peace, this year’s UWC Day theme of Reimagine Tomorrow is an opportunity to reflect on what we do as a movement, to determine how to be more effective changemakers, and to continue to challenge ourselves to realise that “there is more in us”.
Thank you to all of you who will help support the next generation of Afghan students at UWC.