The Celebrating – UWC Congress 2016

It’s not a UWC gathering without jollifications!

The Congress opening reception was one of the first gatherings. The Molo IV filled with lots of voices with accents from all over the world. I ran into people from previous UWC gatherings and amazingly friends who went to school with me. To top it all off, the wine was complementary! You cant go wrong with free Italian Wine. Every night there continued to be lovely sessions to faciliate the celebration of the UWC Community. Some nights there was even live music, and many people continued the celebrations at other venues across the city. On my last night, I was able to attend a nice informal gathering hosted by Mahindra College (my alma mater) where I was able to meet many recent graduates and many graduates from before my time! I spent some good effort trying to explain to the recent graduates the importance of continuous financial support! (not sure how effective that was)

The second kind of celebration that stood out to me was the celebration of the life of Giulio Regeni UWC Adriatic Grad- 2007. Giulio who was pursuing research in Egypt when his life was taken. The circumstances are still unknown. Giulio’s parents shared very passionate and loving stories of their son accompanied by a picture montage. This was a very touching story for me, as it was the story of Giulio just following his heart and his curious mind, something we all do every day. Giulio’s story is the story of many other alumni and young people across the world. It reminded me that there is so much work to be done to uncover truths and fight for justice across the world. It made me wonder if I have fully embraced my curious mind and found my avenue to pursue my curiousity in the name of truth and justice. Amnesty International is working on behalf for Giulio’s family to find the truth behind Giulio’s murder. To find out more – Truth for Giulio Regeni

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The final celebration memory that I want to share from the Congress, was the performance by the UWC Adriatic students. After a long day of congressing we all hustled over to Teatro Verdi where we we greeted by students. First off, let me comment on the amazingness of this facility. I felt as if I were transported to another time (see title photo). Then came the performance. Student concerts as many of us know, tend to take the form of a variety show, and UWC concerts tend to take the form of a cultural variety show. Needless to say expectations were not grandiose, but its always cute to see students perform.

This play was an autobiography of the journey of a refugee student at UWC Adriatic from his home to the college. He narrated his journey intertwined with the stories of others like himself smoothly transitioning from Arabic to Italian to English when he finally begun at the college. He told his story accompanied by musical interludes and dances both cultural and contemporary. This show embodied in just under 2 hours exactly what the UWC experience seeks to provide. It demonstrated opportunity, resilience, cross culture sharing and understanding. It demonstrated the development of an individual – the courage and the willingness. As his entire student body gathered to sing the final popular South African chorus Siyahamba,  you saw the UWC ethos in motion as this brave young man bared his soul to 600 strangers but was supported by his fellow students. Truly a magical moment.

 

Photo Credit: Bea Uhart (and the big one is actually mine!)

I was able to visit the town of Duino in which the college is nestled and given a tour by one of the students. FUN FACT: There are only 20 boys enrolled at UWC Adriatic. It is a beautiful location for a campus and I hope you get a chance to visit one day! Check out my pictures from the tour below – YES i took them

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The Challenging – UWC Congress 2016

If you have every been involved in any organization development process, you understand that this is difficult and tedious. So imagine the challenge of UWC with over 60,000 some of the world’s most educated and experienced alumni plus 17 schools/colleges operating as entities, plus 150 + national committees  plus plus plus, trying to work together to develop.

A tumultuous task to say the least.

UWC meetings (even when I was a student) were always very difficult. Sometimes you left enraged, sometimes you left enlightened, sometimes just plain confused. This Congress was no different. I did not anticipate the intensity of this Congress between pre- meetings for the various committees I sit on followed by choosing from over 10 concurrent amazing sessions, plus facilitating my own session it was very involved. However, regardless of all of the above, I left Trieste feeling MOTIVATED. Motivated that I was part of something much bigger than myself – motivated that I was not alone with the struggles I faced running a National Committee – motivated that there was an effort to continue to change and grow.

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Above: My attempt to facilitate the NC Regional Feedback Sessiong for the Americas

So what’s new at the UWC Movement (at least what I can remember)

  • Committee of National Committees (CNC)
    • This is a new addition to the UWC Governance structure whereby the National Committees will have representation. The CNC has been divided into 5 regions and a process of elections for each region is now happening to elect representatives. These reps will sit on the CNC and its various subcommittees and be responsible for actively participating in activities as a rep for their region.
  • The NC Fund
    • As part of the CNC strategy, the NC Fund is being developed to help give financial support to the capacity development of National Committees. Most committees are run off thousands of volunteer hours – blood, sweat and tears. This fund will give these hard working groups a chance to enhance their skills and get further support where necessary. Details still in the works
  • Director of Education
    • This new position at the IO will help to spearhead the educational arm of the UWC strategy. This includes and is not limited to
      • innovations in educational programming eg. Project Based Diploma
      • Short course strategies
      • Looking at UWC impact – UWCx
  • Cool new partnershipsAshoka Foundation, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Teach for All and others I forgot about remember
  • New Schools! UWC Japan was approved!!! In the pipeline UWC Colombia and UWC Ghana (still preliminary though). If you want to help support any of these initiatives let me know!
  • Strategic Plan – have no fear its not done yet, those who werent able to attend will be able to provide their feedback! So stay tuned

More Scenes from the Congress Sessions

Photo Credt: Bea Uhart – More photos from the Congress

The Connecting – UWC Congress 2016

“I am a proud passionate alumna  of UWC because 11 years ago I was given a super power…a super power that maybe I had before, but I was given the potential to unleash it in a community of people who came with their own powers and were also given the ability to unleash it.

I take this power with me everywhere I go and every interaction I have with individuals in my daily life. I share this power with YOU and with 70,000 people across the world who had this opportunity.”

Yes, I stood in front of 600 people on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Trieste, Italy and told them I had a super power. Many strangers, some friends, but a community sat in front of me gathered under a mission to help the UWC movement enter a new phase of its evolution. Never mind that I had just spoken after the most epic speech by a rep from UWC Syria who spoke of the amazing work they were doing for Syrian students and was extremely terrified.

(Full 3 mins of fame can be found at 30:30 – http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/92500604)

From the planning of this Congress, I was very impressed by the work of the UWC International Office as to the amazing communication, sophistication and organization that was done. Having attended the previous Congress held in Wales 2012 as a naive youngling to the concept, I have been able to witness a rapid and steady growth of the movement firsthand (and I’m still a duckling). The Italy Congress saw a whopping registered 640 persons (and a waitlist!), this is up from the maybe 250 participants in Wales 2012.

There was a constant buzz in the Molo IV Congress Center as old connections were rekindled and new connections were forged. This Congress brought together what I would term the largest cross-section of stakeholders the UWC Movement has ever seen – alumni from the inception years, current students, friends of UWC, the Board, new and old partners, the IO staff and the Schools & Colleges .

Normally the Congress is held every 6 (?) years, so this gathering was specially convened. Why? UWC has undergone the development of a new Strategic Plan and spearheaded by the new Executive Director Jens Waltermann, it was necessary to get real tangible input into the development of the plan.

With a community as large (and opinionated) as the UWC movement, soliciting feedback is crucial. The actors in this movement are not only intrinsically connected to each other, but with such a strong ethos as a foundation, are inextricably connected to the world.

Photo cred: @uwcelsalvador & Bea Uhart 

For more photos : UWC Congress 2016 Photos



Preparing a New Breed of ‘Prototype Leaders’ in CARICOM

Preparing a New Breed of ‘Prototype Leaders’ in CARICOM.

Our present criteria for leadership within our societies have undoubtedly failed us. So in identifying the next generation of leaders within our communities, let us start by looking in the right places and for the right people. We need more options – better options – not for competition’s sake, rather for the cause of spiritual, civic and personal excellence. Mind you, such excellence is by no means reserved for some exclusive minority. It is however a mere reward for hardwork, discipline, passion, and goodwill, and is certainly accessible to all.

Changing the Language of Leadership

The development of the Caribbean Region has been crippled by corruption. Within all sectors, evidence of mismanagement of funds, discrimination and crime have become synonymous with some of the most powerful policy and decision-makers.  Citizens are on a continuous search for the “good leaders” that will help move the region towards economic prosperity and growth. But where are all the “good leaders”? What is this “good leader” that we are constantly in search of?

The creation of these “good leaders” starts from the beginning. It starts from helping the youngest child understand what it means to be a leader. Unfortunately, what we have been teaching our children is a type of leadership fostered by  fear and competition. The post-colonial education system of the Caribbean inherently fosters a linear view of “leadership”. Hierarchical structures are embedded at a young age and a culture of competition is created dividing and sets in motion a paper chase that is somewhat never-ending and reinforces social class barriers that exist.  The status of “Head Boy”, “Class Monitor”, “Sports Captain” is put on children as young as age five or six. Pedestals and egos are fostered, through class rankings and prize-givings. A culture where failure is punished and individualism encouraged.

We need to change how we talk about leadership.

For the region to develop in a sustainable manner, the concept of leadership should extend beyond just finding or becoming a “good leader”, but through a more holistic lens. There needs to be a conceptual shift  away from an individualistic approach to leadership to a more collective vision. In a region with small numbers but big potential, it is not so much about the role of that one leader, but about the collaborative movement.

A shift in language will lead to a shift in attitudes and mentality surrounding leadership. The growing popularity of Social Innovation lends itself easily to this ideological transformation. The Social Innovation realm is founded on principles of collaboration and collective action. It goes beyond the traditional notion of teamwork towards a strength-based approach to the role of “community”.  The language of social innovation maintains the importance of the role of the individual, but strikes a balance by ensure both inward and outward introspection. The inward introspection comes along with the shifting of language and identification of the “self” in the wider system. The “self” and the “leader” are always brought back to their place in the macro vision of societal issues. Words such as “community” and “collaboration” are more prevalent as Social Innovation encourages dialogue. We want to encourage young people to not just abstractly define themselves as leaders, but to encourage them to identify themselves in more tangible terms such as innovators, change-makers or systems thinkers within the larger system in which they operate.

Learning this new vocabulary allowed me to better analyse how I viewed leadership and the impact it had on the young people with whom I interact. It inspired me to create a video introduction for the annual leadership program that I facilitate in Jamaica for high school participants from across the island. As the popularity of leadership programs grows, it is important to ensure we are introducing concepts that will prepare students to be these “good leaders”.

The Emerging Global Leaders Program is an initiative adopted by the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations in Canada. This program aims at empowering high school aged students across Jamaica to  elicit their leadership potential. We have evolved from annual workshops, to a club system in over 10 schools across the island. For 2014, we are looking at evaluating our system and will be further developing and enhancing the community of young leaders that this program has already influenced and has the potential to influence.

The video aims to be to a short, dynamic introduction into the culture shift, that this program will take in the upcoming planning process.

The “Prendre” in Entrepreneur

As a part of the “millennial” generation, the lack of job opportunities or access to them in the traditional sphere is depressing. Many recent graduates of the traditional university system in their search for employment are told to create their own opportunities.

Suddenly, your  inbox is full of requests to join Facebook pages for new business and personal brands. Professional headshots and logos saturate your timeline, your twitter feed and all of a sudden all of our Linkedin profiles say ‘founder’ or ‘creator‘. We attend networking event after networking event and have created hundreds of business cards each representing a different identity of ourselves. Soon the label of ‘entrepreneur’ gets associated with your desperation and you begin to embody this and all of a sudden your liberal arts degree has turned you into a business oriented individual.

The word Entrepreneur comes from Entreprendre– which means “to undertake”, when we break it down even more, “prendre” means to take.

Are we fostering a culture of egocentricity? Has this era of desperation forced us to start “taking” more than we are actually giving back to society?

In order to help me figure out this dilemma, I created certain categories of entrepreneurs. This is in no way an exhaustive list.


The Egopreneur

The egopreneur is purely in it for capital gain and personal development and may occasionally attach their name to some philanthropic cause, but this is merely for the profile. You can often see the egopreneur at networking or high profile events on a desperate search for the “most important” person in the room.

The Socially-minded Entrepreneur

The socially-minded Entrepreneur believes in the greater good, but their primary goal is the monetary gain, to hopefully be able to create bigger impact further down the line and hopes that their endeavors maintain a socially conscious outlook.

The Socially-devoted Entrepreneur

The Socially-devoted Entrepreneur’s primary focus is the social good and seeks to find ways to fund their initiative, not for the monetary gain, but for the impact help to facilitate for the greater good.


Here in lies the quandry. In order for true success and impact, I believe that we have to exist on the Entrepreneurial spectrum and be able to be chameleons based on circumstances.

This is why I have this blog, its part of the necessary evil that is sharing your knowledge with others and as much as you try not to be ego-centric, ultimately ego will be an important element. Even more important is to be able to acknowledge the ego inside and be able to manage it.

Are you Socially Innovative

Are you Socially Innovative

I somehow decided to get back on this overachiever train, and pursue a graduate degree.

I am now on my way to becoming a Master in Philanthropy & Non Profit Leadership from Carleton University, Canada. I am still unsure what that means but I will figure it out one day.

 

As a first course, i chose Social Innovation. I wasnt too sure what this was all about, but it sounded hip, cool and relevant.

 

Check out the post I did from the first day of class on my reactions to the subject.

 

View story at Medium.com