Student speech: “RBC brings us closer together”
On September 21st, we celebrated our 5-year-anniversary with the community as well as with many of our supporters and those who made this United World College possible. During the evening event, two of our students gave a speech, summarizing their UWC experience. This has left us and many moved, and we would like to share it with you here!
“Between experiences and words, there is a huge rift that we usually find ourselves falling into with the inadequacy of our language and our incapability of putting experiences into words. The impact is too high to be set in a frame or fit in sentences and conveyed through words. Our experience at RBC has been so profound that we wish everyone would have it. We also would like to acknowledge that we are standing here not as representatives of our school community, but we are two examples from the students’ body attempting to carry our experiences in the few minutes that we have.
Our understanding of school used to be “a place where you are taught”. A place where you go and study certain subjects, learn things to get a diploma. RBC is different and goes way beyond this. Three things, we believe, are crucial to the learning experience at RBC: the school atmosphere, personal change and our community.
We arrive here, everybody with their own context, their own prejudices and biases. RBC creates an atmosphere that enables wonder in students’ spirits and thirst for learning and exploration. From the first day, RBC thrived to build an atmosphere that sparks people’s curiosity and triggers questions in their head. With all the different backgrounds and cultures, it requires actions from passion-driven and motivated people to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make our community the way we believe it should be. In RBC, we come with different ideas and mindsets, but we all share the same goal. We work together, discuss and collaborate mainly not to convince each other, but to understand why other people think the way they do.
Different beliefs and needs generate conflicts as simple as: our diet, keeping the kitchen clean or switching the lights on and off. Through that we explore different meanings of community, intimacy, or morals. We experience what it means to share space and resources. We learn to actively seek and build a common ground to live together.
Unlike other educational institutions, we at RBC are not being spoon-fed with agendas and ideas; rather we feel a sense of ownership and that we are not just a subject to a system but an object that contributes to the experience of everyone. We are not just students at RBC, we are participants.
We live in a world that is being shredded apart by borders, structural segregation and fear, which has torn our souls apart. All sorts of contradictions are filtering what we see and hear, robbing us of our common sense. On those contradictions our understanding is being formed track-sided by our ignorance and fear of the unknown. In RBC there are countless of little moments of discussion and interaction that generate a strong bond and deep friendships between us. Those connections lift all contradictions in a way that changes our understanding of the world and of what is out there. In the past it was somewhere in the world, “too bad it is happening”. Now, it is my roommate’s town, my house mate’s city or my teacher’s country. Things feel closer, more tangible, more relevant. There is not “out there” anymore, it is all what there is.
Anonymous, distant numbers become stories, faces and shared memories. I cannot be indifferent anymore when I hear military planes flying above where my parents live, when I know that there are training to destroy my friend’s home. We cannot be indifferent anymore. Indifference is what allows us to passively observe. I could not imagine a better way to learn compassion and solidarity. I hope this mobilizes us. At RBC, what brings us very close together is not the fact that we live in the same place, but the enriching experience and the intense exposure to different ideas. The challenges, which we all share, of being away from home and questioning our beliefs are what brings us closer, building what we believe is possible. We end up with a community built on care, empathy and, above all, compassion. This change in ourselves triggers a sense of universal responsibility which pushes us to act. Therefore, RBC does not stop as we graduate, but continues after we leave Freiburg.
A year after being at RBC we have an answer to our question. Why is RBC a unique learning experience? It is the concrete vision of how education should look like, the profoundly transformative lifestyle that brings the whole world into one place; It is the unique community and network of people from all different parts of the world sharing selfless ideals and strongly sticking to values with the belief that they can make a positive change in the world. That is why it is not just a school but a movement that goes beyond its walls.
All of that would never be possible without a whole chain of interdependent actors. Our warm gratitude and sincere thanks go to the city of Freiburg and its hospitality, The Robert Bosch foundation and UWC Deutschland, Christof Bosch and all the donors for their generous contributions, to the staff members and their endless dedication and engagement AND to the students for shaping our community. All of them make RBC what it is and will hopefully be.”