The highlight of the Co-Curricular calendar which mobilises the whole community. Project week is an opportunity for students and staff to immerse in a project for a week focusing on teamwork, UWC values and personal growth through meaningful experiences
Projects are proposed by students and staff and they embrace collaborative planning and teamwork. First and second years work together and learn to embrace and value each others' knowledge, skills and experience. Project week is also filled with lots of fun and opportunities to find new friends.
Project Week 2023
Each year criteria is set to frame project week and this year projects were either service led or expedition focussed. An example of an expedition project this year was Kurt Hahn Core, where students organised an expedition where they camped, cooked their own food, mapped out their hikes and were self sufficient for the duration, overseen by an outdoor expert in case support was required. An example of a service led project was Legs (Local Event Group Support) where students were involved in supporting a number of local community projects, they helped lay the ‘Atlantic Way’ on the local nature reserve, restored an ancient well and built a sensory garden. Project week is graduation dependent; attendance, commitment and enthusiasm enable this to be a memorable week with personal growth, skill development and relationship building, leading to lifelong memories.
Here are a selection of images from 2023 Project Week
Project Week 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Week 2021 was reimagined, with all projects taking place on campus. The success of the week was testament to what we have been able to achieve as a Covid-free ‘closed’ community and the newsletter below celebrates the myriad of projects that took place.
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The Brecon Expedition was an exciting week full of adventure and discovery. Based in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, the project was immersed in Welsh history and heritage, learning about the mining industry and its significance to Wales and Welsh communities. Students climbed and abseiled abandoned quarries, ventured through old train tunnels, walked the local towns and villages, and ended the week with a visit to Big Pit - Wales' popular mining museum. Here, students discovered how coal and limestone was mined and transported as well as learning all about the community of Welsh coal miners.
It was a busy week on the 'Social Care and Tai Chi' project. Following a day of training and preparation, the project hosted and entertained the regular local community Tai Chi members as well as groups of children from a Primary School and members of the local Historical Society. The students organised and delivered activities for each group from Tai Chi sessions in the Glassroom and on Barry beach, to junior classes discussing topics of fairy tales, space science, sports and World War II. The project ran an efficient lunch service for our guests and fulfilled the aim to provide a happy amd healthy day at UWC Atlantic for the members of the local community.
Hopping on board the 'Challenge Wales' sail boat students were immersed in life on high seas from the minute they set sail. From general cooking and cleaning, to rigging the mast and practising 'man over board' - which thankfully wasn't needed - the students learnt crucial skills throughout the week.
Sailing from Penarth to Swansea Marina and then to Lundy Island, students explored the seas and worked together as a team. They had the opportunity to anchor at Lundy Island and explore the island's nature, wildlife and blue seas. Spending the night at anchor, students worked to a rota and took it in turns to do night watch - ensuring the boat didn't move throughout the night. After setting sail to Neyland in West Wales, the seas became a bit more challenging and cold, which made docking to warm showers and birthday cake for a student's 18th birthday even sweeter! The group visited Tenby before returning to Penarth. It was a challenging week in the cold brisk winds where the students all worked together to sail the large vessel. Lots of sweat and a few tears but the students were resilient and battled the elements to have a very successful voyage.
The 'Plastic Everywhere' project focused on the removal of plastic waste washed up on the local beaches, immersing students in the environment of the beautiful Welsh Coast on the doorstep of UWC Atlantic. The students saw first hand the damage happening to the environment with the use of 'one use plastics' and a 'throw away society'.
The message the project aimed to spread is that humanity can no longer turn a blind eye - people, governments and nations need to start caring or there will be nothing left.
Working hard in one of the local primary schools in Llantwit Major, the students supported the school with their daily activities and learning journey in a very special week that celebrated St David's Day. The students took part in the Welsh celebration called the Eisteddfod. They also had the opportunity to share experiences and traditions of their own countries' history and culture. At the end of the week, students took part in a class trip to Techniquest - learning about the ozone layer and the Antarctic. Saying farewell on the final day was tough for the students but they celebrated with dance and games.
Monday and Tuesday were spent under blue skies and a bright sun at Wick and Marcross Primary School. Seven students were involved in some very hard labour - digging a huge sandpit and a smaller pebble area, shifting a thousand pieces of wood for a log cabin and moving some huge tractor tyres (it was certainly a case of "many hands make light work"). For the remaining days, the students visited every class in the school to share a traditional tale and information about their countries. They presented stories from Portugal, Nigeria, Norway, Israel, Bangladesh, The Netherlands and Paraguay featuring snakes, palm trees, weeping birds, goats and princesses. It was a wonderful week enjoyed by all.
During the 'Science Below' expedition, 8 students explored some very interesting underground places in South Wales and the Mendips under the guidance of Tony and Tom from the UWC Atlantic Experience team. Pushing the students outside of their comfort zones by having to crawl through tight passages, wade through cold water and climb up and down different sections in the caves the students mental and physical abilities were tested to the limits.
The explorations took place on the Llangattock Escarpment, in the Ystradfellte area and the Mendip Hills close to Bristol. The students learned about geology, the formation of caves, hydrology, conservation, bats and a lot more.
The 'Urban Vegetable Growing' project visited the Dagenham site of 'Growing Communities' - an organisation that "works to harness the collective buying power and skills of our community to reshape the food and farming systems that feed us, providing people with real, practical alternatives to the current damaging system."
Working under the guidance of alumna Alice Holden - Class of 99, students gained practical experience clearing beds, planting out, composting, seeding and harvesting produce. There were useful discussions about the ways in which these experiences could be applied at the College. Students and staff came away with plants, ideas, enthusiasm and insight into a more sustainable approach to putting good food on people's plates.
Stargazing was an expedition of the skies to understand, learn and develop our knowledge of astronomy. The students connected with local groups and observatories to support and learn from one another. The project aimed to use the experiences gained from the expedition to pass on knowledge and encourage others in the UWC Atlantic community.
Catalyst was an intensive leadership course that took place at the College over the five days of project week. With the help of four expert facilitators, plenty of campfires and lots of singing, the students gained a deeper understanding of themselves and the gifts which they can bring to the world.
Students volunteered with 'The Wild Goose', a crisis centre in Bristol aimed at helping those in extreme poverty and need. The students supported the centre by serving food, tea and coffee to the homeless which they found to be very rewarding.
As part of the boat building project, students constructed a new hull form for the Hahn Evolution lifeboat - a 5.5m RIB designed by alumnus Tom Coe. Working with Atlantic Pacific - an NGO providing lifeboats 'where there are none' and founded by alumnus Robin Jenkins, the students built the plug out of marine ply and cedar strip planks before taking the mould to then create new hulls. The students also built a robust pontoon from oil drums and an old s-boat trailer which can be used to practise alongside approaches in the bay. All the students were excellent and took to the task quickly, gaining good practical skills using the tools.
The Ultimate World Climate Action project was developed by seven UWC Atlantic students and aimed to provide informative programmes to educate local teens about climate change as well as giving them the skills to take action on systematic change in the climate crisis.
The team delivered two workshops to a number of secondary schools in South Wales. The first session provided interactive activities on causes of climate change, issues with waste, biodiversity and natural hazards. The second session aimed to empower the groups to become changemakers - equipping them with ideas, planning techniques and strategies to have the confidence to make a difference in their world.
The aim of Coed Atlantic was to develop Tree Ambassadors for life. To begin the week the students met alumna Ceri Williams - manager of Coed Lleol, to learn about social prescribing and how we can provide a service to Coed Lleol by providing data for them over the week of immersion in nature. The students experienced a number of wonderful forest activities and also built an arbour out of willow for our nursery children. The students immersed themselves in nature and learned how to light fires using natural materials, make charcloth and charcoal, kitchen utensils, bread, soup, aloo gobi and of course spears! Project Coed Atlantic then went on to plant 200 trees as part of the students' service to the climate. Planting native trees, they were advised by James Pinton - a local tree consultant. At the end of the week the students learned how data can be gathered and the different methods of doing so; they analysed their own data about the benefits of the outdoors. To end the week Coed Atlantic designed their own celebration using the skills they had gained over the week, lighting fires, making pizzas and smores!
The project began with a trip to the botanical gardens to inspire and educate the students further about the many uses of herbs they then started designing and building a new herb garden for the valley. With the aim to turn a disused area into a beautiful and useful space, the project planted herbs which can be used by the kitchen in meal preparations for our UWC Atlantic community. As well as the herb garden being a useful place, the fragrant valley can now be a sensory area for students, staff and wildlife to enjoy and celebrate.
With eight students working together and independently, the repair cafe aimed to teach students how to fix, mend, personalise and up-cycle used clothes. With most students inexperienced in sewing, and not knowing where to start with a sewing project, the journey started with learning the basics; creating pillowcases from old bedding, pin cushions and cleaning cloths from old towels. The more experienced students made beautiful aprons and decorated and up-cycled some trousers. As the students' skills and confidence developed, they created bags from ripped jeans, fixed torn clothes, laundry baskets, pockets, jumpers as well as seams and zippers from the New4You shop. Every participant was immersed into their projects with concentration and enjoyment - embracing the great atmosphere with the encouragement of team work and music.
Young Voices - a peer-led civic education programme that is part of the College's co-curricular programme extended its outreach during project week to engage with schools in a deeper and more meaningful way. Students delivered workshops on political processes and global issues, and an election simulation. The week included two phases visiting local schools and making an influence on Welsh policy.
Students attended a Welsh Government consultation that will feed into national policy as Wales considers how best to educate young people to prepare for voting at 16 which will begin in the 2021 Welsh Assembly elections. The students met with Bethan Sayed - a Welsh Assembly member, to discuss education policy and the engagement of young people.
The 'AC-Refugee Exchange' project included fourteen students leading various activities with refugees from Trinity and Oasis refugee centres in Cardiff. In return, students also learnt about the cultural backgrounds and languages of the refugees. Supporting the centre with their tasks, the students painted fences, cooked and hosted games during English lessons.
On the 1st March UWC Atlantic hosted 45 refugees from various countries inviting them to UWC Atlantic to engage in tours around the castle, swimming sessions, and other student-led activities, such as singing and dancing. Students thoroughly enjoyed the eye-opening experience and developed many valuable social skills.
The Project week IdentiTEA reflected on how body image affects the way we think of ourselves. Presenting workshops to schools the students discussed the importance of nationality on identity. One student said: "Presenting and facilitating this workshop made me realise how important it is to discuss the topic of nationality and identity as it links to topics such as migration. I could see how the local students became more aware of what it means to live in Wales with a different nationality, background and how this might be challenging."
Project week for Survival of the Fittest was in many ways an expedition to find how much each and every individual could push themselves to their physical limits. Over the course of one week, the students were challenged with tasks that were extremely diverse in terms of the type of exercise. The group went on a 4km run followed by the swim and physical evaluation on the morning of the first day. The aim of this was to demonstrate how many opportunities the campus truly has to offer from running outdoors, to flipping tyres to HIIT sessions. The challenges became harder as the week went on - climbing using the facilities on campus, intense boxing sessions and lessons on good forms of cardio. The students also visited the sand dunes in Ogmore to do hill sprints and team games - bringing a sense of achievement and companionship to the group. The final days were by far the toughest, completing the 'British Military Fitness Test' and 'CrossFit Murph Challenge'.
Project 'Seagrass' were busy working on fieldwork to help develop the new Ocean Systems Changemaker Curriculum course. The project included trialing various filtration methods to separate micro-plastics from water, visiting different beaches to gather samples and working with Swansea University to create an outreach video.
Completing the annual yearbook, the project included writing formal and fun editorial pages, collecting quotes and photos from all corners of the campus and general life at UWC Atlantic. The yearbook aims to showcase the College's conferences, events, co-curricular programme and daily life.
The students aimed to create a deeper understanding of the divisive forces that have caused mass conflict throughout the region. They embarked on a political tour throughout Belfast, before tackling the city's highest point on Cave Hill. Monday saw the students sitting in on an official parliamentary meeting on environmental policies, listening to prominent politicians speak and allowing them to explore Northern Ireland's Assembly, Stormont. They also had the chance to work with the country's Irish language radio station, where students recorded a snippet for the radio channel. Afterwards, students had the opportunity to talk to Kingsley Donaldson, a prominent figure in Northern Ireland's peace process. The students also worked alongside children in the local community, visited the ongoing divided city of Derry, spoke with language activist Linda Irvine, and engaged in various cultural activities with local people.
From Pwllgwaelod to St Nons, through Pwll Caerorg and into St Davids, 14 intrepid adventurers trekked the 125KM coastal route around Pembrokeshire. Days consisted of braving winds, rain, avoiding wild horses and being followed by seals, whilst falling into knee thick mud or clambering up and down vertiginous paths. Evenings were spent around the log fire reading or playing crazy games. Despite running out of ankle supports and blister plasters, the determined explorers impressed the staff with their positivity and energy.
Students from our Associated Schools Programme returned to their schools to run assemblies to inspire future applicants about UWC Atlantic. They ran workshops about studying at UWC Atlantic for those students that are interested in applying, giving them an insight into the opportunities and lifelong experiences available to them.
Seven of our resilient students volunteered at the Welsh Hearts office in Cardiff - a charity with a mission to provide public access defibrillators in Wales and free heart screening for persons’ aged 8-45 years for heart conditions that may otherwise go undetected.
Students assisted the charity by organising and soliciting prizes for a raffle and silent auction at upcoming fund raising events, updating databases, performing office related tasks and assisting in the charity shop at the centre. Sharon Owen who established the charity in 2013, said:
"I am ecstatic that these students volunteered their time to give amazing service to the organisation".
The overall aim of the Dialogue and Peacemaking project week was to train students in group facilitation skills and to put these skills into practice in a context of dialogue between students and refugees at Oasis.
At the beginning of the week, students took part in critical engagement facilitator training provided by Ellora Adam and started developing their workshops. The thematic areas chosen were cultural identity, personal values and dreams for the future. Students practised their workshops with their peers which was an opportunity to look into differentiation for EAL, possible adaptations of exercises for different groups, mindfulness of possible trauma and trigger moments, and other key techniques in managing group processes in the context of peacebuilding. At Oasis Refugee Centre, the students delivered three workshops and supported the general work of the centre, gaining insights into what community peace work looks like in practice. Students took the opportunity to have conversations with people from a vast variety of backgrounds, helped with the general logistics of the centre, and had interesting chats with social workers and other volunteers working at Oasis.
The Dialogue Across Difference unit is part of a prototype to develop a new changemaker curriculum at UWC Atlantic. In the sessions so far, students have conducted ethnographic research in the UWC community to help better understand our differences, how we communicate across these and how this influences the community. Throughout project week, the students worked with theatre director and alumnus Arne Polmeier. Students reflected on the research they had conducted in the community, worked on theatre skills and developed scenes to create a play that will be performed to the College in June. The focus of the play will be 'Capturing Searching for Identity' and aims to reflect back on the real experiences of life at the College inspiring positive change for the future.