2023–2024 Young Aurora Finalists Announced

2023–2024 Young Aurora Finalists Announced

After careful consideration, the pre-selection panel has chosen Pearson College UWC, UWC Changshu China and UWC Mahindra College as the finalists for the 2023–2024 Young Aurora competition from a pool of impressive proposals submitted by participating schools. 

Launched in 2017 by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with UWC International, Teach for All and the African Leadership Academy, Young Aurora is designed to inspire young changemakers to address pressing humanitarian concerns within their local school communities. This year, fourteen UWC schools and colleges submitted proposals, showcasing a remarkable commitment to addressing social challenges. Dr. Andrew Mcdonald (Member of the UWC International Council), first-time panelist, shared his thoughts: “Being part of the Aurora panel allowed me to experience first-hand the impact a UWC education has on its students. The projects showcased our amazing students across the world and their knowledge, understanding, care and passion for the world we live in and especially for those in most need. Each of the projects showed a group of students who care about doing good and right in this world.  Each of the teams put forth presentations that were well thought through, highly organised and researched.  In the midst of all the challenges and negative news we receive, it is comforting to know that we have young leaders like these forging ahead to create a better world for all people.  It was an honour to be part of this.”

The unique schools’ contexts have been reflected in the diversity of the proposals put forward, which include a wide spectrum of societal issues such as cultural preservation and environmental challenges. On the other hand, three projects focused on period poverty demonstrating how local and global issues are often tied. They had a strong focus on education and access to essential resources. In addition, technology has also played an important role in some of the proposals. One of the teams designed an app for clothing exchange which promoted a circular fashion economy and decreased textile waste. Another team created a chatbot for waste management in an ethnically divided and segregated local context.

The three team finalists, Pearson College UWC, UWC Changshu China and UWC Mahindra College, impressed the panelists with their comprehensive understanding of the presented issues and innovative approaches to real-world problems. They now have the opportunity to refine their project presentations before the final in March, where the winner will receive funding to bring their project to life. As Ivana Situm, member of the UWC International Council and experienced panelist, highlighted: “Every day at a UWC college, or wherever an alumni is, an idea focused on local and global challenges is coming to life. Through the Young Aurora prize, an idea gets the necessary recognition and resources to become a sustainable project and some even go on to become registered organizations.”

The Three Finalist Teams

UWC Changshu China – Enlightenment

Enlightenment aims to empower rural youth from underprivileged backgrounds, providing them with resources and support to pursue their interests and aspirations. Through discussion-based learning, students identify and address personal and communal challenges, culminating in community-focused initiatives that promote positive change. Enlightenment team member, Annika, comments:

“Enlightenment was simply a discussion-based curriculum designed to foster critical thinking. However, during my fieldwork, I understood the broader impact these sessions had on the lives of rural students. A girl said to me: “You are the only person here who asked me what my passion is and believed I could achieve anything in life.” I came to see that Enlightenment offered more than just skill enhancement for these students; it was sowing a seed of hope. This realization was a turning point for the project: I understood that the education we offer transcends mere content; it's about the experience itself.”


UWC Mahindra College – AquaRoots

AquaRoots addresses food insecurity and economic vulnerability in Maharashtra’s rural communities by implementing kitchen gardens and water filtration systems. This sustainable initiative empowers families to become self-sufficient, ultimately improving their quality of life. 

A team member, Karma, explains the importance of grassroots initiatives:

“My dedication to AquaRoots stems from a firm belief in the transformative impact of community-driven initiatives on breaking the cycle of poverty. In Mulshi Valley, witnessing families' struggles highlighted the necessity for comprehensive solutions. AquaRoots goes beyond providing immediate relief, empowering individuals through kitchen gardens and water filtration. This approach not only addresses food insecurity but also confronts water-related challenges, fostering improved health and economic stability. Small-scale projects like AquaRoots exemplify the profound change grassroots initiatives can bring to disadvantaged communities.”


Pearson College UWC – Hearth

Hearth focuses on supporting individuals affected by substance abuse through community-based action and storytelling. By creating a youth network and raising awareness, the project aims to foster empathy and solidarity among Victoria’s youth. 

Team member, Charvi, emphasizes the power of youth involvement: “I believe in our project because I feel that it has a lot of potential to positively impact the opioid crisis in the way that it approaches the issue. Its focus on the involvement of youth is a crucial part of what makes me believe in its success. Youth carry a drive for change is something this project utilises and supports. Their involvement makes this project sustainable and long-term to help make a long-term positive change in the surrounding community. While discussing this approach I learned the importance of youth involvement. I noticed the impact I could have as a youth in my community.”