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Are We There Yet? vol. 219 Thumbnail

Are We There Yet? vol. 219

I have a client, Sylvia, now living in Costa Rica but who has had an exciting career in academia, as an independent consultant for governments and multilateral institutions, at the UN Secretariat in New York, as Financial Councillor at the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington DC, as Representative for Central America at the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank, and is currently a member of the National Regulatory and Supervisory Council for the Financial System in Costa Rica.

I was recently talking with her about her involvement with something called the United World Colleges, which I had not heard of. According to its website, UWC “is a global movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” The mission is “to inspire young people to put their talents and energy into driving change around the world, no matter which future path they choose.”

While I could write about UWC, I wanted to focus on Sylvia’s journey to finding UWC. Sylvia noted that “I first heard about United World Colleges through an article in our local newspaper noting how a very humble teenager from a city slum had obtained a full 2-year scholarship to attend a high school in Wales.” Sylvia was intrigued and decided to learn more about UWC. She found that UWC was founded in 1962 by Kurt Hahn in Wales, based on the notion that if young people from different backgrounds were educated together, they could build an understanding that could prevent future conflict. Today, UWC is a global network of 18 schools and colleges on 4 continents that caters to 16- to 19-year-olds from over 150 countries and provides over 10,000 International Baccalaureate Diplomas each year to global citizens eager to change the world. She also learned that one of the colleges, and the only one in Latin America, was located in Costa Rica.

She visited the local campus, and that began her involvement with UWC, both as a donor and through launching a program to bring together young aspiring agents of change with exceptional Costa Ricans who have been themselves transformational figures, leading to some very mutually enriching inter-generational dialogues.

I find that Sylvia’s journey is both amazing and inspiring. Like many journeys, there wasn’t some big revelation that inspired but a whisper in that first article. Sylvia then did the research, took the time to understand UWC, and began playing an important role. She could have easily read the article and moved on to the next thing in her busy life. But she didn’t. My lesson from her story is that paying attention may be the most important part at the start of any journey.

Sylvia concluded our conversation about UWC with, “Just last week, at the launching of a major capital campaign to fund the new campus, I met the visionary Dutch couple who donated the land for the enterprise. They felt confident that their donation would improve lives and contribute to global citizenry and sustainability. I feel the same way about my much more modest contribution.”

Take care and stay safe.


Hunted by Abir Mukherjee

In London, the police storm Heathrow Airport to bring in a father for questioning about his missing daughter. In Florida, a mother makes a connection between her son and the bomber, fearing he has been radicalized. And in Oregon, an unknown organization’s conspiracy to bring America to its knees unfolds… On the run from the authorities, the two parents are thrown together in a race against time to stop a catastrophe that will derail the country’s future forever. But can they find their kids before it’s too late?