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From Mission to Action: Kindness, belonging, and potential at UWC Thailand.

From Mission to Action: Kindness, belonging, and potential at UWC Thailand.
Aylin, Grade 12 (Bulgaria)

UWC Thailand is buzzing with excitement as it prepares to host the highly anticipated UWC International Congress 2024 in Thailand's tranquil settings, surrounded by rich foliage and bright flora. In the middle of this excitement, I had the opportunity to speak with the Secondary Principal of UWC Thailand, Jonathan (Jon) Field, an experienced educator who has spent six and a half years at the school. His decision to join the UWC Thailand team was strongly anchored in the school’s vision and principles, notably its unwavering dedication to holistic education. Our Secondary Principal, who believes that education plays an important part in building extraordinary persons, emphasised UWC's role in developing not just academically proficient individuals but also caring global citizens.


Exploring UWC Thailand's Vision

The International Congress provides a chance to interact and develop dialogue among varied stakeholders in the UWC movement. "Connections between people, and connections between all the different schools and colleges, in person, face to face, will help us build connections across the movement that can be sustained for longer," asserts our Secondary Principal, emphasising the importance of collaboration in shaping education's future. Kru Jon describes UWC Thailand in three words: kindness, belonging, and potential. He feels that kindness is the most important factor, highlighting the need to treat others with compassion and empathy. A sense of belonging is also important, focusing on creating a community where everyone feels respected and accepted, both inside the school and in the broader Thai community. Over the last six and a half years, UWC Thailand has made significant progress in implementing these principles. What excites Kru Jon and others is the untapped potential for future growth and influence. As he reflects on our accomplishments, he is equally thrilled by the idea of what lies ahead, eager to continue our path of cultivating kindness, and belonging, and realising the full potential of everyone engaged. Among the excitement of the Congress, UWC Thailand shines out as an inspiration for innovation and inclusivity, providing an insight into its unique approach to education. 

Beyond the Classroom: UWC's Journey with the IB Curriculum

When discussing the benefits of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum inside the UWC framework, Kru Jon expressed a deep appreciation for its unique characteristics. "I love that the IB makes everybody continue to learn two languages," he said, emphasising the IB's dedication to linguistic proficiency as an essential component of its educational system. Kru Jon pointed out the IB's unique nature, stating its basic principles of community engagement, action, creativity, and Theory of Knowledge (TOK). Reflecting on TOK, he enthusiastically exclaimed: "Best subject ever. Hashtag woohoo!”. 

Kru Jon underlined the IB's transformative potential in influencing students' perspectives, stating, "It just allows students to see the world very differently and from a broader perspective." Despite observing the difficulties presented by the demanding structure of the IB curriculum, particularly for UWC Thailand students, he voiced confidence in the IB's commitment to student well-being. His findings reveal that the IB curriculum acts as an inspiration for holistic education, encouraging global awareness and personal growth within the UWC community.

Reflecting on the difficulties and capabilities of students negotiating the demanding International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum reveals that their ability to excel, especially in a language that is not their first, second, or even third, is nothing short of miraculous. Kru Jon stated, "It always amazes me how people can do such a rigorous, broad curriculum in their second, third, or fourth language. I believe that demonstrates amazing resilience, strength, determination, and intellectual prowess. Despite the challenges of studying complicated courses in several languages, the IB framework promotes a set of transferable abilities and traits.”

Student Empowerment 

Kru Jon explained what distinguishes UWC Thailand from other UWC colleges. He feels that actual power belongs within the student body. He emphasised the importance of giving students more time to take control of their learning experience, which presents issues within the structure of the IB curriculum. Nonetheless, he emphasised the significance of this vision, calling for more opportunities for students to exhibit agency and leadership in determining their educational route. Our secondary principal indicated that the rigorous requirements of the IB diploma in their second, third, or fourth language create a framework of transferable traits, skills, and understandings. These skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management, are invaluable outside of the classroom, preparing students for success in further education and beyond. While understanding the difficulties that students encounter in completing such obstacles, it is apparent that their devotion and determination deserve praise and respect.

Embracing Global Diversity: The Essence of the UWC Experience

UWC welcomes the challenge of bringing together people from over a hundred different nations to establish a varied and inclusive atmosphere that promotes interaction, dialogue, and understanding. In his words: "We expect a hundred nationalities to get into the same place and to interact and to live together… and that's difficult and hard and exciting and gratifying and frustrating and we know that and that's why we do it." Regardless of the inherent complexity, the ability to engage in meaningful conversations and share varied perspectives is regarded as an essential component of the UWC experience.

"I think the ability to listen and learn from each other is incredible," Kru Jon said, emphasising the enormous opportunities for growth and enrichment that such interactions provide. While each UWC campus has a unique location and activities, they nevertheless share a shared mission and principles. "All UWCs are the same but different," the secondary principle highlighted the collective power that comes from sharing ideas and best practices across the global UWC network. In essence, the exchange of ideas and experiences promotes ongoing progress and collaborative empowerment within the UWC movement.


In conclusion, as individuals begin their UWC adventure, they are advised to approach it with an open mind, a sense of humour, and an appreciation for joy. As one participant wisely suggests, "Bring an open mind, laughter, joy, and try all of the food you possibly can in the four days that you're here." This sentiment captures the spirit of accepting new experiences, making relationships, and appreciating the richness of cultural diversity. Through these small yet powerful gestures, participants can fully immerse themselves in the transformative UWC experience. As delegates from all over the world prepare for a visit to Thailand, Kru Jon offers a warm invitation,: "We're really looking forward to having listening and learning from you, and...sharing Thailand, Thai culture, and Thai values with the rest of the movement," he says, capturing UWC Thailand's spirit of hospitality and collaboration.