Royal Visit Emphasises Impact of UWC Scholarships
Among the students, faculty and staff who warmly received Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway at UWC Changshu China (UWC CSC) on 19 October 2018, the royal visit held special significance for one individual in particular: Mark Jiapeng Wang.
Mark is an alumnus of UWC Red Cross Nordic (UWC RCN) in Norway. In 1998, Mark became the first student from mainland China to study at the College, thanks to a scholarship generously provided by HM Queen Sonja and the Norwegian government. Upon his arrival at UWC RCN, Mark had the opportunity to meet with HM Queen Sonja, and to thank her for changing his life by supporting his UWC education.
Upon his graduation from UWC Red Cross Nordic, inspired by his UWC educational experience, Mark began working towards building a UWC school in his home country. In 2008, he became a member of the UWC International Council, and founded the UWC National Committee of China shortly thereafter. In 2015, Mark realised his vision of a UWC in China, founding UWC Changshu China and becoming the College’s Chair. It was in his capacity of Founder and Chair of UWC CSC that Mark welcomed HM Queen Sonja last week - 20 years after their first meeting.
Visiting UWC Changshu China gave HM Queen Sonja and her husband, HM King Harald, the opportunity to witness, firsthand, the impact that their gift of a UWC scholarship has had: not only on Mark’s life, but on the lives of hundreds of young people from across the globe who receive a values-based education each year at the college Mark established.
In an interview for Norwegian television, HM Queen Sonja said that she was greatly impressed by Mark when she first met him at UWC Red Cross Nordic, and how proud she is to see what Mark has achieved in his home country of China.
Mark also commented on the occasion:
“It is my immense honour and privilege as the Founder and Chair of UWC Changshu China to welcome Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja to our College. It was during their State Visit in 1997 that Queen Sonja announced a Norwegian government-funded scholarship for a Chinese disabled student to attend UWC Red Cross Nordic. At that time, I was desperate to continue my education beyond what I had been able to learn while in hospital after being seriously injured in a plane crash. I was so excited to be selected to study in Norway, and since then I have been full of gratitude for Her Majesty.
UWC transformed my life and gave me hope to provide many, many more young people with the same opportunity. When Her Majesty invited me to visit her royal castle in Oslo, I told her that I would like to build a United World College in the mainland of China. Her encouragement that day remained with me and kept me going no matter how difficult the journey became.
The UWC movement has an ambition that extends well beyond the education of individual students: it is about creating a better world. Even with so much conflict and turmoil around us, I am convinced education will be the force for a more peaceful and sustainable world.”