Story by Lena Huang (YR 45/2020, Hong Kong)
The sun gleams bright amidst a cloudless sky on this beautiful day on our picturesque campus, a welcome change in the unpredictable winter weather of Victoria, BC. The usual chatter and familiar mix of people at brunch is joined by foreign faces and excited children, who are just as eager to explore the school as we are to get to know them. The usual menu in the dining hall is spiced up with Middle Eastern food that serves as a warm reminder of home to some, and unbeknownst exotic adventures to the palate of others. Bright smiles and screams ring from every corner of the campus as our students run around the various houses, small children following in their footsteps and shrieking as they try to catch up. This is the view that greets you at Pearson College UWC on ‘Fun Day’.
As we stepped into the holiday season at the beginning of last December, the campus kicked off the festive cheer with the annual ‘Fun Day’, organized by the Refugee Support CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service). Twice per year, the Refugee Support CAS extends an invitation to refugees and immigrant families from the Middle East – primarily Syria, Palestine and Iraq – to join our diverse student body on campus for a day of Middle Eastern food, dance and games. Aligning with our values of uniting peoples, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future, the aim of ‘Fun Day’ is to engage the refugee and on campus community alike by sharing food, traditions and unique tales while redefining and exploring our individual diversities.
Refugee Support CAS members made this day possible with careful planning, choreographing and brainstorming. CAS, a crucial part of the International Baccalaureate diploma program, allows students to explore a variety of interests, hobbies and discussions and deepen their experiential learning. Refugee Support CAS is led by students with the guidance of Andrew Sewell, Philosophy teacher at the College.
Refugee Support CAS is a great opportunity for students to practice and experience a variety of skills such as event planning, empathy, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, personal responsibility, public speaking and writing. Objectives of the activity are to strengthen connections with refugees in the area, develop intercultural understanding as well as raising awareness for global issues surrounding refugees in both on and off campus.