I am delighted to join with you to celebrate the 50 anniversary of the pioneering education for peace initiative of the United World Colleges.
In the wake of the Second World War, at the height of the Cold War, the German and British founding fathers of this extraordinary movement shared an inspiring and unique vision that building understanding between young people could lay a pathway to peace and security. They founded Atlantic College in South Wales, which The Times newspaper hailed as “the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War” and theres its history.
However much the world has changed over the past halfcentury, that vision remains relevant and vital. Faced with old and new tensions, conflicts and uncertainties, we can see even more clearly that we need future leaders who know and understand one another, and who are inspired and equipped to make a positive difference to become what my UWC co-president Nelson Mandela has called “cells of innovation and catalysts for change.”
Kurt Hahn said that the best way to motivate young people was to make them know that they are needed. UWC is unique in recognizing that education has a higher purpose and potential: to bring young people together to engage with other on the basis of a shared humanity.
Our students learn not only that they can excel in any field they choose, but also that they can help to find solutions to some of the most intractable problems facing the world today. This assurance grows from an intense, cutting edge education, but it begins with the simple, crucial act of coming together.
Altogether, there are more than 50,000 UWC alumni and over 6,000 current students and I have spoken with many of them, at nearly every campus. I am always heartened by their passion, their hope, commitment and their ability to see and bring out the best in one another. But beyond the individual education and transformation of our students, we can celebrate the impact that they have already had, both individually and collectively, on the world.
Many of our young alumni – and after 50 years of operation, some no longer quite so young – have become leaders in the arts, sciences, business, government and even space travel – and in uwc itself. Thousands are educators and doctors who every single day make countless differences to the lives
Of others. There are many others who are less visible but whose actions are making fundamental differences in their workplaces, their universities, their communities and their homes. The common thread is the inspiration they take from uwc’s mission and values and their conviction that we must all play a role in making the world a better place.
We have grown from a single college to a worldwide movement, both more diverse and more united. We can rest assured that the foresight of our founders, so valuable then, is even more compelling now.
To all who have shared this journey, whether board members, staff, national committee volunteers or, of course, alumni and students, please accept my heartfelt appreciation and admiration and enjoy the celebrations! I hope they will give you a chance to reflect on what we have achieved and what you yourself have achieved. I hope that they will re-inspire you. I have no doubt that coming together to remember the achievements of the last 50 years will reaffirm our collective faith in the uwc mission – to make education a force for a more peaceful and sustainable future – and lead to even greater progress in the years to come.
Her Majesty Queen Noor