Eight students from United World College (UWC) in Maastricht in the Netherlands recently paid a visit to Thamesmead. The trip was organised by the Trust's Community Development Team and former Thamesmead Youth Voice (TYV) member Cecily Blain, who left Thamesmead two years ago to attend UWC.
Accompanied by their Art Teacher, Antoinette Blain, and working with pupils at Business Academy Bexley and members of TYV, the UWC students facilitated two art workshops based on the themes of ‘discrimination against young people' and ‘perceptions of London'.
Thirty students participated in the arts project, which was extremely engaging and well facilitated; initiating provocative discussions and exchange between the groups. The UWC students also gave a presentation on studying at their college; whose mission is ‘to use education as a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
Talking about her college and the differences between schools in London and Maastricht, Cecily said: “UWC is an amazing school which gives pupils the opportunity to learn alongside people from other nationalities and cultures. More than a hundred nationalities are represented and yet it is so much smaller than my previous school in the UK.
“Ninety per cent of things at UWC are student-led and they not only concentrate on the International Baccalaureate which offers high quality programmes of international education but they offer CAS, which stands for Creative, Action and Service which encourages people of the same age to interact. It's a bit like the Duke of Edinburgh Award where you volunteer fifty hours of your time over two years and this has seen me travel to Jordan and Bosnia.”
UWC students were then taken on a tour of The Link Thamesmead by TYV member and BAB Year 12 student Tahlia Williamson.
Prior to leaving Thamesmead, Cecily was one of several TYV members who worked with the Trust to secure the £5 million Myplace funding to build The Link and was virtually moved to tears when she saw what she'd helped to create. Cicely said “I worked on this project as a member of Thamesmead Youth Voice, to secure £5m Myplace funding so it is amazing to see The Link Thamesmead coming alive.
"So many projects have fallen by the way side, even after receiving funding but this is something else. I would like to make another trip to London with the UWC when it is finished. It is amazing!”