- Stories of Students
Project Week is a milestone experience in every UWC journey and is one of the defining features which sets UWC’s apart from other international IB schools. As my first-year Remi (France, UWCD’21) said, “Project Week gives the opportunity to spend time with the community, learn about other cultures as well as the culture of the country we live in. We try to conduct meaningful projects that give back to the community. This creates memories, enriches our knowledge about many things and definitely had a heavy influence on my UWC experience”.
During Project Weeks, there is a focus on experiential learning, a key concept of the UWC mission. Students get the chance to go out in the real world and take their skills - such as team-building, leadership and communication - to the next level as they apply them in real-life situations. It also provides an opportunity to get off-campus and learn more about the region hosting them. In normal circumstances, it would also have been a chance for students to meet the community and contribute to it during service projects.
Project Week is also a break from the normal routine of college life. It provides the space for students to take a step back from hectic college life through a much-needed reprieve, gives a chance to reflect on their time thus far and see things from a different perspective. Furthermore, it gives the opportunity for the community to bond and become stronger.
Due to the current circumstances, we didn’t have as much liberty to travel far off campus for an extended period of time and most of the Project Weeks were held on campus. We, fortunately, had the possibility to get out of campus and go hike in the marvellous nature surrounding us during the outdoor hiking trip, visit some beautiful monasteries during the Explore Armenia day. Even though we couldn’t meet the community face to face, we still got the chance to appreciate Armenian national cuisine by making traditional dishes which were then sent to the displaced families from Artsakh. I feel that the way Maurice, our Theatre Teacher, put it into words perfectly sums this up: “Normally it means an adventure off in some distant place, but this year it was about being creative with what we had.”
These three focus days were organised by the school and were just the start of the Project Week. They were followed by a day dedicated to learning about how to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, there were four days of CAS Project Week, featuring a wide range of student-led activities which brought together DP1s and DP2s. The projects ranged from cooking for war refugees, helping build a composting system in the greenhouse, an interdisciplinary course about slavery, to a project merging together two distinct art forms: ceramics and literature, as well as solving world crisis in MUN. It was definitely hard to pick just one project!
The full list of projects which were available are:
- Che-Che Plastic Bags
- Joint Creative Project - Writing and Ceramics
- Slavery Studies
- MUN Dili-Mini
- Preserving traditions - creating a cookbook
- Culinary Workshop - Cooking for Artsakh
- Theatre Production
- Checkmate your boredom
- Greenhouse/ Composting
As for me, Project Week provided a safe space to break away from my comfort zone and normal routine, meet new people and have interesting discussions. An occasion to try something new, as I chose the ceramics and literature project and had never handled clay before. It also meant getting to see my teachers outside of the classroom and learn more about their stories and themselves as people, not just educators.
However, like the whole UWC experience, Project Week doesn’t fit into just one shape, it takes on different forms depending on what choices each individual makes. In order to get a full picture, it is important to view a wide range of perspectives of different students and staff members. For example, Sophie, our Deputy Head, says: ”The greenhouse was all about getting active (so was cooking) and translating the theory of the classroom into something real. Also really good for teamwork and community spirit!” My friends described it as “freeing, creative and grounding”, “a time to go out and explore and learn about Armenia as well as to learn more about yourself”, “a time to immerse yourself in the healing powers of nature”, “an opportunity to explore your own curiosity”.
All in all, Project Week was busy, fun and fulfilling. I will leave you with some of the favourite memories made and lessons learned by my fellow students.
“I would say that my CAS Project Week was amazing and I will remember it for a long time. Knowing that just by cooking during four days with my peers we helped IDPs from Artsakh, who could have proper lunch and dinner, made me so happy! This is definitely my favourite moment of the PW.” Remi (France, UWCD‘21)
“There's so much more to this place and its people than academics.” Yasmin (Lebanon, UWCD‘21)
“Originally, I thought it was a different word for half term break. But now, to me it means an opportunity to learn in a fun, interactive and interesting way, about things that aren't normally taught in school.” Calypso (Greece, UWCD‘22)