Now, since the first UWC Short Course “Acting for Peace” is coming to an end, I believe it is time to tell the story of how such a great project started. The seed was sown when Nicole Müller got a scholarship to attend UWC of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy. In 2012, during one of her project weeks, she brought a group of UWC students to her hometown Imst. In many ways, the visit left its traces in the village. One of them was a beautiful graffiti just around the corner of the artist’s, Gebhard Schatz’, house. He felt so inspired by the young international visitors that he started to investigate. Cooperation with Paul Müller, Nicole’s father, was the next step. The two of them were intrigued by the idea of starting an international educational project in Imst; the town which already is the cradle to another international movement that changed many children’s lives in a very positive way: the SOS children villages.
For the last two years, Paul Müller and Gebhard Schatz worked closely together. Led by their enthusiasm, they soon reached out to key persons – such as Dr. Franz Fischler and local politicians of the city of Imst – such as the Major Stefan Weirather – who promised to support the project. The two organisations, UWC Austria and the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck (which would be crucial in the realisation of the project), were very fast taken on board. Prof. DDr. Wolfgang Dietrich, who had formerly worked with Gebhard Schatz, was fascinated by the idea of working with teenagers on his field of specialization – conflict transformation. UWC Austria’s president Augusta Campagne offered her expertise and UWC network to arrange the selection of participants and tutors, do a great part of the preparatory work, coordination and logistics. The local team of Gebhard, Nicole and Paul did a great job to prepare everything in Imst for the participants of the short course.
Their close contact with social, cultural and political organisations, as well as with the LandwirtschaftlicheLehranstalt – the school that would host the course – made the very diverse programme possible. It also facilitated that the participants would have many opportunities to interact with the citizens of the town. Last but not least, it was thanks to the organisers in Imst that the short course was cordially welcomed wherever they participants went.
Thank you for your initiative, your will and enthusiasm!