It is an experiment, after all. Put 40 students from all over the world into the same residence, put four to a room from four strikingly different cultures, and see what happens.
- Jack Matthews, Pearson College Founding Director
Ask students about the most challenging aspect of Pearson College and it won’t be the intensive academic program or rigorous extracurricular activities. Time and again, it’ll be learning to get along with each other as they live together.
All students live on Campus, in one of five two-level residences (females on one floor, males on the other). We try our best to place four students from four different continents speaking four unique languages into each room. We build the possibilities for conflict into the plan—as well as the ability to develop understanding through everyday interactions.
Yes, students bring with them their prejudices and intolerances. And yes, it would be naïve to think that the College rids students of them. But living together makes students acutely aware of their prejudices, which, in turn, makes them reevaluate their attitudes towards one another.
Students have plenty of support and guidance as they negotiate living together, particularly from houseparents—educators and their families who live in an apartment attached to each house, and who play an integral part in the life of each residence. At the beginning of the school year, houseparents work with students to develop room expectations, and are there to help mediate conflict as it arises.
Lester B. Pearson once asked during his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture in 1957: How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other?
We take it one step further: How can people truly know each other if they don’t live together?