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Greetings and, to those of us in the Northern hemisphere, happy summer! I am pleased to share an update with you about our campus and community.

First of all, I am pleased to announce that, following her successful first year as Vice-President of Education and Programming, I have appointed Heather Gross, Deputy Head of College for Pearson College UWC, in addition to her responsibilities as Vice President, Education and Programming.

Heather will be Acting Head and legal guardian to all our students whenever she is on campus and I am not. This appointment further strengthens Heather’s role when she represents Pearson College UWC to external audiences. Her role in supporting the Board’s consideration of our educational model and programming will become more robust as will her engagement with faculty and other program partners, especially as we work towards consolidating and articulating our program to ensure that it is truly innovative, transformative and distinctive as well as aligned with our mission for a more peaceful and a sustainable future. Heather is a devoted alum and deeply committed to UWC values. I remain grateful for her continued commitment to – and hard work on behalf of – the College; and I look forward to deepening our collaboration.

As I look back over the past academic year, I am proud of many of our accomplishments, and in particular how vividly Pearson College is carrying out its role as Canada’s School for the World.

In celebrating the 60th anniversary of Lester B. Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize  with events in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver as well as on campus, we demonstrated Canada’s proud tradition of multilateralism when Pearson College was honoured to host the meeting of the personal representatives of the G7 prime ministers and presidents.

As I said in my remarks to the final Village Gathering of the year:
“Together, we have witnessed and debated the implications of a decline in multilateralism as nations compete for geopolitical advantage.

“We have become acutely aware of: the horrors of war that continue to rage in Syria, Yemen, Congo and less well-known conflicts; terrorist actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria and European cities; ongoing and new crises impacting refugees and other displaced people; the rise of populist governments and concurrent attacks on the free press; justice and social care systems failing Indigenous Peoples; disruption of international agreements and institutions, the fragmenting of important international organizations; and the increasing proliferation of nuclear arms and the precarious position in which they place our whole planet.”

The year has been particularly fraught and international events can cause strains in relationships between individuals of different nationalities, faiths and beliefs. I cannot say enough how proud I am of the maturity that our students have shown in addressing these difficult times through difficult conversations, always bearing in mind that individual human beings do not represent the actions or policies of a particular government. With wise guidance from staff, residents and faculty members, all have worked hard to ensure that Pearson remains a safe space for exactly these kinds of conversations and I assure you that we will continue to do so.

In this context, I wish to single out and congratulate the students who so enthusiastically participated in Global Affairs events and discussion, and to thank Economics teacher Samuel Perez for his unflagging efforts as International Affairs Coordinator as well as his work with the Pearson TEDx team. He will be missed during the coming year as he moves on for a well-earned year of Professional Development in his native Guatemala with his wife Berenice and children Diego and Sarahi. Enjoy every minute and come back to Pearson with renewed enthusiasm and perspectives!

And thank you to Nazım Açar for picking up where Samuel left off and so ably continuing the inspiration and management of Global Affairs.

Geoffrey Tindyebwa continues his admirable work with the non-profit organization he founded 18 years ago, Kumbuka Universal Learning Experiences (KULE) Foundation, that aims to make a difference in the lives of the less privileged in Kenya. Nine Pearson College students will continue that work when they accompany Geoffrey to Kenya this month.

Distinguished Alumni continue to carry the Pearson College UWC flag in the international arena.

Pearson Alumnus and Patron, Peter Sands (YR 5/1980, UK), took up his appointment in March as Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered PLC, one of the world’s leading international banks operating across over 70 markets, primarily in emerging markets.

More recently,  Robin Wettlaufer (YR19/1994, Canada-SK) received the 2018 Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) award for outstanding accomplishments as Canada’s Special Representative for Syria.

As we continue to amplify Pearson’s Global Affairs curriculum and activities, it is with great pleasure that I  announce the appointment of Shefa Siegel in the dual role of Global Politics teacher and Global Affairs Program Coordinator. During the upcoming 2018-19 academic year, Shefa will implement and teach our first IB Global Politics and related courses. He will also work closely with our team to develop and coordinate the College’s Global Affairs Program, including speakers’ series and workshops led by external experts and our own community members. He brings 16 years of experience in international affairs to Pearson, specializing in environmental ethics and economic development and has conducted fieldwork in more than a dozen countries such as Guinea, Guyana and Ghana. Welcome Shefa!

The end of the academic year

The final weeks of the 2017-2018 year culminated in the traditional celebrations including the Bay Jump for graduating second years and the final Musical Café. We also introduced two new pilot programs that made for a very busy and productive cap to the school year for both Year 44 and Year 43 cohorts.

The majority of Year 44 students participated in a capstone experience designed to give time and space for first-year students to reflect on their experience, align with UWC and College values and help build further skills in preparation for their greater leadership role and responsibilities as “senior” students on campus in the coming academic year.

Meanwhile, 16 of our newest Alumni (Year 43) took part in the first-ever “New Alumni” Initiative held in Metchosin and Victoria. The three-day immersion was designed to send new graduates off into the world equipped with the networking and communications skills they need to tell their story to– and more importantly, share their ideas and dreams with – the world. Read more about both programs on “Piloting” a Course for Future Success.

Leaving the campus and/or College

In addition to Samuel and his family, Alan Penty and Mark Jackson left Pearson College UWC at the end of the academic year, followed by Dani McArthur (and her Tiny House) early this month. On behalf of the entire Pearson community, I thank all three for their immense contributions to the College in their respective specialties and individual pursuits. They have enriched theatre arts, mathematics, student activities and archival work as well as improvements to our library and the Alumni-in-Residence program. I want to particularly thank Dani for responding so quickly – and in such a concrete way – to my early challenge to the Alumni to design new ways in which they might engage with and participate in the Pearson experience. Thanks to Dani, the successful Alumni-in-Residence program was swiftly launched in 2016 and will continue even though the Tiny House is gone. In fact, we are looking forward to growing this program by offering it year-round, rather than during just the winter term. Our Alumni Engagement team will be providing more information and putting a call out to interested participants later this summer. Stay tuned!

We would also like to acknowledge, thank and say “see you again, soon,” to residents who are moving off-campus, but will still be part of our active community.

Thank you to faculty member Raphael Jenks, his partner China Lloyd and their daughter Mina for playing such a vital part of our on-campus family, not only as residents, but as long-time houseparent at McLaughlin House. Raphael continues in his role of faculty member and teacher of French language and Theory of Knowledge

Residents Dan Hurley, Kim Martin, and their son Liam are moving back to Gabriola Island, BC, in July. Dan will remain in his role as VP Advancement and External Relations and Kim will continue to offer her volunteer skills working on One World production costumes.

Summer on-campus activities

Despite the absence of our students, the campus always remains lively throughout the summer months.

  • The busiest and noisiest part of the campus is the site of McLaughlin House (House #3), the third of our dormitory houses to undergo massive renovations. The ambitious project must be completed in time to welcome our full complement of 200 students for the new academic year. Check out the progress in our Flickr album!
  • The first-ever Pearson Seminar on Collaborative Leadership (PSCL) was held 10-22 June. This experiential program for adults grew out of the popular Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL) and was open to people 18+ interested in mobilizing toward social change. Participants brought with them experience in community organizing, social justice, and participation in experiential programs such as PSYL, and UWC schools. The seven youthful leaders in this pilot program pronounced it a great success and we look forward to expanded programs in the years to come.
  • From 23 June to 6 July Pearson hosted the 34th annual Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA).  This year, a record of 400 artists from near and far came together on the Pearson campus to share in spirited creative exchange. For two weeks the campus is a hub for all things creative, from pottery to painting, print making, book binding, writing, singing, weaving and so much more. This year MISSA has the privilege of hosting Canadian painter Harold Klunder as mentor for the Independent Studies program. MISSA is also honoring Coast Salish artist Susan Point with an annual Ambassador of the Arts award for her creative contributions.
  • The 2018 session of the ever-popular Pearson Seminar of Youth Leadership (PSYL) is just getting underway for a three-week residential program starting 15 July with 77 participants, 16 animators and 6 coordinators from 27 countries.
  • The 10-year reunion for Years 32, 33, 34 and 35 takes place from 5 to9 August. They will discover many much-needed changes to campus including renovated buildings and landscaping as detailed in the Campus Renewal Plan.  We look forward to introducing them to the thoughtful innovations in our academic and experiential programs and receiving their thoughts about how Pearson College UWC can best prepare its students for their life after Pearson.

Preparing for the new academic year

Before we know it, we will have started final preparations for the new academic year and the arrival of returning (YR44) students on 27 August and the new (YR45) cohort on 29 August.  I will be keeping you informed of activities and events throughout the forthcoming year. In the meantime, for more information on the 2018-19 program, I invite you to view our academic calendar.

Taking Our Responsibilities Seriously

As we move towards the moment when the campus will again be filled with the happy noise of 200 amazing young people discovering the joys and challenges of life at Pearson, I would like to take the opportunity to remind you that our goal is always to provide our students with a safe and protected environment where they live, learn, lead and laugh together. As the Pearson community and I continue to pursue this goal, I am very pleased to welcome Patricia (Pat) Patton as Special Advisor – Respectful Community for Pearson College UWC. Engaged on a part-time basis for the next year, Pat will work closely with me to ensure that our policies and practices are robust and aligned with leading practices. In her capacity as Special Advisor, Pat’s responsibilities will encompass a range of policies, notably:  Respectful Community Policy, Non-Discrimination and Accommodation Policy, Gender Diversity Policy and Sexual Misconduct – Sexual Violence Policy. She will also provide advice and support to me in relation to the new UWC Safeguarding Taskforce on which I serve, as well as provide advice and assistance on the further development and implementation of training and policies supporting a Respectful Community.

Engaging Beyond the Campus

While we prepare for another fulsome year on campus, we are also planning for another season of external activities to raise funds, friends and profile for Pearson College UWC.

With the support of our board chair, the Hon. Anne McLellan, we continue our efforts to re-engage the federal government as a founding partner in Pearson, while we also work to expand our network of supporters and donors from across our alumni and broader communities.

In particular, I have been working with our Philanthropy team on a number of important conversations with donors who have the potential to make a transformative impact for Pearson as we renew and re-found the College for the next 50 years. We are deepening our engagement with the Greater Victoria community by building partnerships with the chambers of commerce, the technology industry and post-secondary institutions to help support student projects and mentorship, co-host events and support our philanthropic efforts.

The 2018 annual general meeting will be held on 15-16 November in Ottawa where we plan to hold a special reception with alumni, senior government officials and other supporters of the College and the UWC movement.

We are also pleased to be collaborating with the dedicated volunteers who comprise the UWC National Committee of Canada. Their work not only includes student selections – where the Committee has done excellent work during the past two years since it was re-established with Nina Moroso as National Coordinator – but also in building greater awareness of the UWC movement among Canadians. Thank you to all of you organizing or attending UWC-NCC’s summer events such as BBQs held in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and in Victoria.

Finally, a special word about my friend and indispensable colleague, Valérie Colas. As Executive Coordinator and Assistant to the President & Head of College she has applied her organizational skills, tact, charm and determination to tasks ranging from the mundane but essential to the coordination of the special events surrounding the 60th anniversary of Mr. Pearson’s Nobel Prize. Since the day she arrived on campus, she has plunged into every aspect of Pearson community life, including a new role as House Buddy to the students residing in Japan House.  Beloved and respected by all – colleagues, residents and above all, the students – she created a very special niche for herself. Now, Valérie is off to Sénégal for an exciting six-month mandate with a youth-focused NGO. We wish her every success as she pursues her dream of working in Africa and we look forward to her return in January, after the winter break.

As I now take some time for rest and relaxation with my family, I wish you all the best for an enjoyable summer and look forward to seeing or hearing from you in the year ahead!