Kurt Hahn was one of the most influential philosophers in the world of education in his lifetime. After creating numerous schools and working at the NATO Defense College in postwar Europe, he was inspired to found the Atlantic College. More than 50 years after the foundation of the first United World College I do not think he would agree with what UWC education has become. Hahn believed that youth become corrupted by society as time passes and they begin to conform to the rules, the status quo. This is why he placed so much importance on experiential learning and only resorting to punishment when it was absolutely necessary in order to provide his students with the time and space for self-discovery. He identified “The Six Declines of Modern Youth” and “Four Antidotes” whose task is preventing such declines. He included the decline of fitness, initiative, skill, self-discipline and compassion. The antidotes included fitness training, expeditions, projects and rescue service. Salem College, a prestigious boarding school he opened in Germany before Hitler came to power, was founded on thelaws that Hahn created. They emphasize the importance of self-discovery and the experience of both success and defeat on top of previously mentioned qualities. His ideas became mantras for the schools and programs he founded. Atlantic College created a sophisticated rescue and wilderness program, while ensuring that students received top-notch academic education. He carried these ideas through to his next school, UWC Pearson College in Canada. More than 50 years after the founding of the Atlantic College, we have strayed far from Hahn’s values upon which the Atlantic College was founded. A critic could say that Hahn’s philosophy was relevant 40 or 50 years ago and required some changes as time passed. Of course, most things require change and as humans evolve, so must the things that surround us to ensure their relevancy. That is why we have amendments in our laws and some businesses survive while others do not. Nevertheless, we all must remember that there is a massive gap between progressing and conforming. Both Hahn and UWC have been about the former, not the latter. After all, Atlantic College was hailed as “the most exciting experience in education since Second World War” by The London Times when it was founded. UWC was born as a movement that looked at the status quo and decided not to conform. Unfortunately, UWC-USA is currently not about the former, but the latter. The IB Diploma Programme is far from sufficient. The IB learner profile brings up open-mindedness, yet most of my subjects based on pure memorization do exactly the opposite. I once talked to Ravi and asked him whether I could talk about the development of alternatives to the standard economic theory that we learn in the classroom environment. In response, I heard that students would not receive any marks if they wrote it down in their exams. We would be penalized for thinking out-of-the-box. Is that what Kurt Hahn would really want and most importantly, is that something we want? Kurt Hahn always believed in the importance of academics but he also realized there is more to it. As of next year, our school is planning to drastically limit the amount of time students spend on sports activities on a weekly basis. Hahn himself said, “as our society has become information rich, it has become action poor”. Nevertheless, our lives here are gradually being more focused around the theme of academics, as we slowly move away from the “Four Antidotes” and the Laws that were implemented in the Salem College and indirectly at other schools founded by Hahn. UWC-USA has become more of an international boarding school and the values, which are all part of the UWC Hahn envisioned, turn out to be increasingly meaningless. Genuine education requires greater emphasis of the Antidotes and Laws created by Hahn, which would ensure that graduates are open-minded and critical thinkers. Instead, our school leans progressively more towards the flawed IB curriculum not for the purpose of creating better-educated world citizens, but with the aim of sending students to great undergraduate schools.
Apparently, In French, There’s no translation for “I miss you.” It’s more like, “You are missing from me” You all, Missing from me Taking parts of me That I didn’t know I needed Half of my heart Is going with you all I wish we didn’t have to go.
There are things we wish didn’t have to happen, But will be forced to come to accept There are things we wish we hadn’t known But we had to learn and grow There are people we can’t live without But have to let go. Letting you go Is the first true loss I’ve ever felt. All palaces are temporary palaces You were my first loves But they’re palaces nonetheless. And I’m letting you go. How lucky am I Even though you will be oceans and mountains and worlds away To have shared this palace with you I will still think of you This castle on the hill In my darkest times Hidden in an unassuming town In my happiest moments You wouldn’t expect to find magic in Montezuma. In all the in-betweenness of me But there is, Oh, there is. Magic in the eyes of you, my second years, my first years Magic in the passion in their hearts Magic in the bonds we have created Magic in how interconnected we are Your presence, your magic, will be forever missed Your arriving Was different Than your leaving was However, Both were bittersweet. Every sunrise has held promise Every sunset has held peace And I thank you all for that A lifetime has passed through this body of people Souls joining hands, Red strings tying our hearts together So we don’t forget. So many pretty faces So many eyes full of fire and passion The world is not ready for your arrival You all are too beautiful, too full of life To be handled by those who have never been passionate. I cannot ask you to stay. You cannot stay. You will not stay. I cannot stay. I will not stay. All I ask is that We all look back on this place And remember. Remember the good, the bad The in-betweenness of Montezuma Remember those late nights you spent on the reservoir Staring up at the stars That you, yourselves, put in the sky Remember us. Remember here. Remember now. There are things we wish we hadn’t known
Never say goodbye Because goodbye means going away And going away means forgetting. So instead of goodbye, I’ll say “I love you” “Until we meet again” “You will forever be a part of me”
THE WOOD BURNING POEM When winter comes and the snow drops like a thin layer of fat laid down across the sweet, hard muscle of the dirt and earth, the woodcutters know. Here in New Mexico, the falling of snowflakes, crocheted in lacey ices and frosts, signal men with big, black beards to leave their wives and to trek in troops of waterproof, camo-printed, hunting jackets into the Gallinas backcountry to court and kill the women of the forest. These gnarled trophy hunters slay the fiercest of beasts, ponderosas and cedars and aspens, all put to rest by chainsaw. I stand with my sister on our front porch. Thin worker's gloves on hand, we stack the wood they bring us builda-block style, creating walls, piles, collecting kindling, collecting sappy pitchwood, a wild, fire-cracker sort of fire-starter. The women in my family know how to start fires. We girls know how to pyramid the wood. We know how to build up from newspaper or dry moss to cardboard and little, thin sticks to thick, slab sticks to branch logs wrapped warmly in bark to the biggest, side-split trunk logs. Those ones are all-nighters or middle-of-the-day-everyone-is-busy logs. We know all the different types of wood. We know what to burn and when and how. Piñon is thick and sticky, the fattiest type of wood. We burn it late in the evening so as to last into the night. Those that wake after midnight and venture near the woodstove on their way to the bathroom can hear the piñon log’s faithful crackle in the dark. They hear the warm, sweet sizzle of resin melting like the sound of pork frying, all grease and red meat burning slowly away into the night. I am lucky. In my house, the fry pan is always sizzling with bacon on the heat. My sister lays down thick slab of sarcasm next to thick slab of pork, making a meal of flesh and flesh-biting humor. We Pollis women are round and ruddy, like apple-roasted rump cuts half burned by the oven, half sweetened by it. This is the season of the oven, of the woman at the stove. This is the season of mulching, of gentle decay. The long, sweet grasses, once grasshopper green and old paper, phonebook yellow, lay down their waving heads in an anesthetized prayer. The laden trees drop their arms like ballerinas tired of the dance, limbs half-broken with snow. My mother says, on the coldest nights, when the darkness seems a little too close to the windows, we burn cedar as a benediction, as a blessing. We burn until the spring comes in a thin crust of sunshine and clashes down upon the melting winter world like a dropped china plate. We burn until the red of our fires is overtaken by the red of the armored chest plates of robins, newly born and battling ceaselessly against the sky. We burn until all the wood is gone. I have lived my entire life smoldering through my woods, through the tall, dark curtains of ponderosa pine, cleaning and dressing the woodcutters’ kill, swinging flat-palmed and flat-footed from our backyard apple tree. I sweat through my days in this high country. I, like the spring pig, like the burning log, feed, be in family or flame. I, a woman, sweat and smolder in this desert. I, ruddy red with the ever present burn of wind on the cheeks have lived with my mouth open, chewing the ash and fat of a life lived hard and beautiful up in this craggy country.