It’s not quite like Christmas morning, but Pearson College UWC and the 16 other UWC schools around the world will soon be receiving gifts from across Canada.
When the new 2018-19 academic year begins, for most schools in late August, UWC institutions will welcome no fewer than 59 bright and inquisitive young Canadians ready to begin their personal, lifelong journeys of living the UWC mission. Like all UWC students, they were selected on merit, their journeys supported through financial aid and scholarships made possible by generous individual and institutional donors.
“We are thrilled that we’ll see 59 diverse, talented, promising first-year students from Canada at UWC this year,” said Jennifer Dueck, Co-Chair of the UWC National Committee of Canada (NCC). Dueck, based in Winnipeg, is a UWC alumna who attended UWC Li Po Chun in Hong Kong.
She lauded the hard work by volunteers with the national committee, as well as provincial and territorial chapters, whose dedication powers the unique, merit-based UWC student selection process in Canada.
“I have the good fortune of working with a talented and committed team of volunteers – most of whom are alumni from UWC schools, including Pearson. Altogether, it takes nearly 100 dedicated volunteers and thousands of hours of work to make Canadian selection happen.”
This year, young people of promise and a multiplicity of experiences and backgrounds will again be representing every province and territory of Canada, along with a small number of non-resident Canadians who qualify through the national selection system.
UWC National Committee of Canada Executive Administrator Nina Moroso has no doubt that these young Canadians will represent themselves and their respective home regions well. She noted that, almost without exception, they come to UWC with a richly-textured life experience.
For example, one young Canadian on her way to UWC Waterford Kamhlaba spent eight years circumnavigating the globe with her sailing parents and has already published a magazine article about the culture of “boat kids” who meet and form fast, but temporary, friendships as their respective families navigate the planet’s waterways.
“She’s uniquely equipped to join the UWC movement – she already has a global network,” quipped Moroso.
Another student, destined to make her home on the Pearson campus for the next two years, moved, by herself, from Europe to Montreal with the express purpose of learning French – which represents at least her fifth language.
Moroso added that, as part of her application process, another incoming student described herself as a keeper of traditional ways of her northern Indigenous culture, including survival on the land. This represents another thread to be woven into the rich texture of the student body at Pearson.
In fact, this year’s NCC process resulted in nine Canadian students of Indigenous heritage being selected on merit to attend Pearson College UWC.
“This coming year, those students will be part of a large and diverse group of Indigenous students on campus – a supportive community within a community,” Moroso noted. Self-identified students with Indigenous heritage will come to Pearson from many traditional territories that are part of present-day British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.
Several common themes emerged from the application processes of students selected to attend UWC schools – that of familiarity with the UWC either through family, friends or attendance at a UWC summer program, such as the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership, and past, positive experience in rubbing shoulders with international students.
“My family hosted Pearson students,” said one local student destined to attend UWC Mahindra in India this fall. “Cooking in the kitchen with five people from different countries, learning their recipes, then sitting down to dinner with the smells and flavours of Syria, Georgia, Denmark, China and Afghanistan and then discussing politics, religion, culture, were highlights for me growing up.”
Selecting deserving students from across the second-largest country in the world through a volunteer-fueled process would not be possible without considerable work on support systems which are increasingly designed to be student-centric. Dedicated volunteer Paul Jarvey, an alum who attended UWC-USA as a student from Alberta and who currently chairs the Selection, Engagement, and Recruitment Committee (SERC) of the NCC, said significant work went into making the selections process better for students, volunteers, and the UWC team.
“We redesigned the nominations process from the ground up to make sure we did the best possible job of matching students with a UWC – no small task given the complexity of selection decisions, placement offers, scholarships, and parental contributions that need to be considered,” said Jarvey. “Having effective systems means we can focus on bringing brilliant students into the UWC community while fighting to be sure that no deserving student is turned away for financial reasons.”