“I was looking up to UWC students my whole life,” recalls Abbey, 16, the daughter of the Christ-Rowling family of four from Metchosin.
“When I was six years old my family became part of the Pearson College UWC Host Family Volunteer Program and Pearson students have been in and out of my home ever since. They inspired me in countless ways!”
You might as well say that everything began decades ago when Abbey’s mother Dayna went to Denmark as a Rotary exchange student. This experience sparked her love for travel and people from all over the world and eventually led to the family’s involvement with Pearson’s Host Family program (insert link to online handbook). Abbey’s father Mike simply states: “Once we had an international perspective, we yearned to have this aspect in our lives.”
Being part of the program enriched the entire family. “We cook, eat, sing and laugh together. We meet such amazing young people and have wonderful memories. We also learn so much from every one of them. Our family traditions throughout the year evolve with every new student,” explains Dayna with a warm smile.
This experience motivated Abbey to go after her dreams and inspired her brother Lucas, 18, who just returned from a one-year Rotary exchange in Colombia. “The exchange was a great experience and made me a stronger person. I turned 18 years during my stay in Colombia and a former host sibling went on a 12-hour bus ride, just to celebrate with me. I feel grateful for having had the opportunity to forge such strong friendships.”
In 2016, Abbey, who attended public school in the Sooke School District surrounding Pearson, made the first step towards her goal of becoming a UWC scholar by participating in the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL) program. At PYSL, Abbey met other current and future UWC students from all over the world. Inspired by the program, she decided to apply.
”The mindset of the program was what impressed me the most. I learned that you can go and do anything. It was so powerful. We also had lots of fun”, she explains with a laugh.
“Now that I already knew Pearson College UWC, I really wanted to become a UWC scholar. I didn’t intentionally list Pearson as my first choice, not because it isn’t awesome, but because it is so close. I’ve always wanted to travel and learn a new language and go off and completely immerse myself in another culture. Now, this is my opportunity to do just that.”
Abbey will be attending UWC Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in January 2018 and is beyond excited. She is thrilled to be learning from the country’s culture, the UWC community as well as taking up the challenging IB program. “I hope to one day make the same positive impact that so many UWC students have made on me.
Good luck to you Abbey and thanks to your entire family for being valued volunteers and part of our extended family.
About the Host Family Volunteer Program:
Host Families are local volunteers who play a vital role in the Pearson College UWC community by providing a home away from home and a much-needed respite for students during scheduled academic breaks. Most students are far away from their own families, many for the first time. Participating families welcome students into their homes for a night, a weekend or for a longer break. For students, it’s a respite from campus studies and a chance to develop close relationships with Canadian families. Many students describe their time together with local families as one of the most rewarding experiences of their two-year stay at Pearson College UWC.
The Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL) has developed out of the values and mission of the UWC movement. Each summer, we bring together youth from around the world for a three-week UWC experience that gives them the opportunity to build an international community committed to creating positive change in the world. PSYL is located on the Pearson College UWC campus. This inspired setting, along the wooded shores of the Pacific Ocean at sheltered Pedder Bay on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, inspires us all to take risks in our learning and leadership.