by Florian Städtler (written on flight US2044 from Philadelphia to Raleigh/Durham)
Imagine a school that brings together students from 70 different countries. Newly founded, open for 16-17 year-olds, regardless of race, religion, culture social or financial background.
Every room at this international boarding school becomes home for four young people from different countries. Imagine an Israeli girl shares a room with a students from Palestine, Germany and Syria. And at the school's opening, the students perform a "Global Song", celebrating the common values of openness, mutual understanding and collectively making this world a better place.
Sounds like a fairytale. Like a fantasy of an idealist. Like a vision by a great leader, that was soon after pulled down a peg or two facing the harsh international reality.
But wait: This is not a fantasy. This had already happened 12 times in 12 countries around the world. This intercultural miracle of education goes by the name United World College (UWC). And I am incredibly thankful to having been part of the founding and opening process of the first (and only) German UWC, the UWC Robert Bosch College in my hometown Freiburg, Germany.
The first ever UWC was founded by German experiential pedagogue Kurt Hahn together with the English Air Marshall Lawrence Darvall and Admiral Desmond Hoare. All of them had the experience of two World Wars, and when the Cuban Missile Crisis marked the highlight of the Cold War in 1962, the men agreed that there is one certain way to keep people from waging war against each other: Come to meet and know each other, learn together and get a mutual understanding of each others cultures.
With my companies Acappellazone and SpielPlanVier EventMarketing, we pitched for the project "UWC Opening" in early 2014 (Thanks to my a cappella friends Hans Cassa, Peter Huang, Danny Ozment, Liz Swain et al. for your support and video testimonials) and won the pitch.
But we soon realized, that this project was much more than a job. The rehearsals me and my colleague Michel Peters had with the newly-made-up UWC choir were some of the most satisfying experiences in our professional lives as event planners, scriptwriters and event directors.
The "UWC Global Song" we wrote with a team of UWC teachers shortly before the first class of students arrived, was arranged by studio wizard and audio designer Paul Brenning. Inspired by South African music and describing the unique UWC experience, the song became alive, sung by students from Morocco, France, New Zealand, Ghana, Germany and many, many more countries.
When the 23rd of September, birthday of Robert Bosch (whose Robert Bosch Foundation and company Robert Bosch GmbH sponsored the new school) and opening day of the new college finally came, the students gave a fantastic example of intercultural action. Their peformance made us smile and cry at the same time. It was proof that a great idea can make seemingly impossible things come true. Thank you, UWC family, for a day we’ll never forget.
Video of Opening Day (mostly Germany, but self-explaining):
About the writer:
Florian Städtler, born 1970, is an agent, blogger, scriptwriter and event director based in Freiburg, Germany. Florian is founder and owner of SpielPlanVier EventMarketing www.spielplanvier.com including the vocal music portal Acappellazone www.acappellazone.com, founder of Vocal Blog www.vocalblog.acappellazone.com, and Chairman of the Board of the European Voices Association www.europeanvoices.org.