Clara Mareschal (UWC Adriatic 2010-12) and Louise Hanson (UWC Adriatic 2011-13) both from Belgium, organised a full week of street performances and social activities in Ghent and Namur during the first week of January.
When spotting 20 young people from all over the world in Ghent, showing cultural dances and singing songs in all different languages, one could question their background and purpose.
Every year UWC Adriatic students organized street performances. Street performance is a student initiative in which students from the college participate in a week of performances with 3 goals in mind. The first is to promote the UWC values and to spread the word about UWC. The more the movement is known, the more students have the opportunity to send an application and the more people that are inspired by the idea of UWC and can contribute to the movement. The second and third goals are social service and cultural visits.
In Ghent they visited an elderly house in Tielt where they performed dances and songs and afterwards interacted with the elderly whispering poems to them through home made “whispering tubes”.
The day after they had a day of practice and in the evening they performed in the cultural center the Zebrastraat with a presentation about the school followed by different acts.
During the last day of the project in Ghent there was a cultural visits day during which the group was split up. Half of the students stayed in Ghent while the other half went to visit Brussels.
In the evening they all met in Ciney, a little village near to Namur to continue their adventure in Belgium. Spread around the region of Namur, various means of transportation allowed the students to visit and be active in different places.
The following afternoon, the students headed for Dinant in order to entertain some elderly people at “The Churchill “, an old people’s home. It was very touching to see their gratitude and their strong desire to communicate with students that did not even speak their language.
The feeling to be involved and dedicate yourself to something meaningful really reached its climax on the day after. The students went to Natoye, a tiny village in the commune of Hamois. A refugee centre held by the Red Cross welcomed them for a day. The morning was dedicated to the children, who were mostly from Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia. From the first sight, they were captivated by the students’ famous song from the UWC of the Adriatic, ‘Bella Ciao’, and all along they happily participated in the games.
In the afternoon, a social worker from the centre gave a tour and explained more about the Belgian laws concerning immigration, which actually apply to the whole Schengen union. When the day came to its end, it was emotionally challenging to cope with the different aspects of the day : the children’s joy, the insecurity of the refugees’ status, and their leaving. The last day, the students seized the opportunity to visit their comrades from UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands. The familiarity between UWC students was astonishing. It sincerely does not have any borders. It was also inspiring and interesting to get to know other students’ routine and accommodations especially because the college of Maastricht is almost a freshman as a UWC.
Here their journey started again heading back to UWC Adriatic after a week of exploration, discoveries, experience, and a lot of positive energy.