Farewell to an Educational Visionary: Lodewijk van Oord’s Departure from UWC Maastricht

June 26, 2024

Lodewijk at UWCM

After seven years as Head of College at UWC Maastricht, Lodewijk van Oord has announced his departure, marking the end of a two-decade career with the UWC movement. His commitment to movement has left a big mark on the UWC community worldwide. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and reflect on his journey.


A Lifelong Connection to UWC

Lodewijk’s connection to UWC began in his childhood. Growing up in Singapore, he first heard about it when his older brother attended UWC South East Asia. Lodewijk recalls himself sitting on a UWC school bus, even though he was not a student there. He told his mother that one day he wanted to drive that bus, a dream he realized metaphorically years later by becoming a leader within the UWC network.

Lodewijk van Oord as a child in a bus

1984 – Lodewijk, aged seven in red, in a UWCSEA school bus

Lodewijk’s professional journey with UWC began in 2003 with an internship at UWC Red Cross Nordic. The following year, he joined UWC Atlantic as a teacher, instructing students in the history of the Middle East and Peace & Conflict Studies. He also served as house parent and crew member on the lifeboat. These years laid the foundation for his later steps within UWC.

In 2010, Lodewijk moved to Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa as Director of Studies. Four years later, he became Deputy Head of College at UWC Adriatic in Italy. His leadership and dedication culminated in his appointment as Head of College at UWC Maastricht in 2017.

A Family Affair

The UWC ethos is not just a professional commitment for Lodewijk, but also a family affair. His wife has also worked at various colleges and their two sons grew up on UWC campuses and attended UWC Maastricht. This personal investment in the UWC mission underscores his belief in the values of peace, sustainability and intercultural understanding that UWC promotes.

Embracing Change in Education

Reflecting on the evolution of education over his career, Lodewijkn notes the significant impact of technology. “When I started working at UWC, the mobile phone had just arrived,” he recalls. “Now, as I leave, mobile phones are being banned in schools. In a way, the circle is complete.” This observation highlights the dynamic nature of education and the challenges and opportunities presented by technological advancements. Lodewijk has witnessed firsthand how technology has reshaped learning environments, teaching methodologies and student interactions. Despite these changes, the core mission of UWC, educating for peace and a sustainable future with real people in the real world, remains the same.

The Next Chapter

Lodewijk feels it is the right time to embark on a new journey. Writing has always been a significant part of his life (he has already authored several books), but he has never pursued it full-time.

Lodewijk looks back at his twenty-year career with UWC with pride and happiness, cherishing the unique experiences and relationships he has built along the way. “UWC is an ingredient that you can apply every time in a different context. Depending on that context, UWC can mean different things,” he explains. This adaptability and relevance of UWC’s mission to diverse cultural and social landscapes still stand as a rock.

Lodewijk values the opportunity UWC provides to meet people from varied backgrounds and to become part of a global family that lasts a lifetime. Hearing from former students brings great joy. Seeing what they have grown into affirms the impact and importance of the UWC experience.

A Legacy of Inspiration

Lodewijk leaves behind a legacy of inspiration, dedication and a deep-seated belief in the power of education to change the world. His contributions to the UWC movement have touched many lives. As he steps into his new role as a full time writer, we bid farewell to him, but know his influence will continue.

We wish him all the best and thank him for his dedication.