Nieuwsbrief April 2017

Alexander Wirtz (AD 94-96), new Chair Dutch national committee: “Let the next generation take a leading role in UWC the Netherlands

“Last autumn I went to the UWC Congress in Trieste, which was a major inspiration. It came about half a year after our 20-year reunion in Duino. It gave me a huge boost to try and make a difference for UWC. It really still is a fantastic organisation with great momentum, which made me realise that it is time for my generation to step up and start taking a more active role in shaping and leading UWC the Netherlands.”

“Ever since I went to college, UWC has been playing an important role in my life. Not the least because my wife Petra is a co-year from Croatia. I have been involved with UWC the Netherlands since 1996. By far the most enriching and hardest part has been chairing the selections. I was selected in 1993 when selections were organised quite differently. To be honest I am not sure I would have passed the current strict selections. I am glad we have started a process of making our procedure more robust and objective and that we are able to have some serious discussions about selection.”

Time for the next generation

“For many years we have had the luxury of seeing distinguished women and gentlemen do all the heavy lifting in UWC the Netherlands, but perhaps that has been a bit of a mixed blessing as well. All these formidable people who ran the Dutch national committee, responsible for fundraising, setting up UWC Maastricht, etc. were also a little daunting. I am almost forty years old, but feel like a bit of a spring chicken with some very big shoes to fill. And if I feel that way, I imagine others have also privately thought that they weren't ready yet to take on those responsibilities. ‘If it takes someone with that much experience to do the job, I think I had better wait a while longer.’ But of course, waiting won't solve anything and I fear it may cause a large group of alumni to feel that the organisation can do without them. IT CANNOT!”

National committees around the world, unite!

“At the Congress we talked to many other national committee members from around the world, as well as some heads of college and many alumni. I am not sure how to put it succinctly, but I was struck by the fact that the organisation is growing so rapidly, in terms of the number of UWC schools and places for students around the world, while funding for already existing UWC schools and fundraising by national committees for scholarships is a major challenge. As a result, national committees are being bypassed for direct entry into UWC schools that need the funds. We are feeling this strongly in The Netherlands as well and this presents a major challenge to the national committee system, our role and our relevance to the movement. It would be great if we and other national committees like the Germans, Danish, Spanish, and everyone else frankly, could use this crisis to re-invigorate our base, the alumni. I hope we can get together and reinvent ourselves in a changing world. We need our alumni to do that. It cannot just be the work of a few people with titles like chair.”

Dutch national committee priorities

“Our selections should be aimed at getting as many people as possible who can flourish there, into a UWC school. Under the capable guidance of Gülsah van den Heuvel – Cebe (PC 99-01) we will continue discussing and improving the selection procedure. Other important questions are how we can convince more students to apply for a place and a scholarship to attend a UWC. How can we reach them? How can we properly distinguish ourselves from other schools? Furthermore we aim to strengthen the alumni network, with the annual meeting (ALV) and other alumni activities as our physical, and social media and the newsletters as our virtual meeting places. To achieve all this our challenge is to find enough volunteers to help the other wonderful people at our Focus Groups.”

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