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As I look out my window and watch Spring turn to early Summer, I am struck with the parallels to our students’ development over the past months.

Those promising little green shoots outside will quickly become supple saplings and will mature over the years into great trees spreading their shade across the land. So too, our students who arrive on campus as promising shoots grow sturdier as they are nurtured by Faculty, Staff and the entire Pearson Community, they expand their horizons, hone their skills and stretch to meet the world around and beyond them. Our alumni are proof that Pearson students mature into remarkable, accomplished and dedicated individuals whose influence – rooted in the values and mission of the College and the UWC – extends across the world.

At the outset of this year I wrote to our community to say, “In true Pearson fashion, this term promises to be a whirlwind of academics, activities and events both big and small. For our next five months together, we again have the opportunity to unite our time, talent and energy as we aspire to achieve our respective and collective goals.”

That prediction was, oh, so accurate and I will only offer you some highlights in this update, with an emphasis on our students’ activities, while reminding you to follow developments by regularly checking Pearson College UWC social media channels.

Reflecting on the events of the past months, I am convinced that this was the best year ever. But then, I say that every year!

I salute the resilience – and creativity – of all campus residents during some uncharacteristically-harsh winter days. Snow, ice, power outages – all resulted in occasional cancelled classes and activities. Moments of cold and misery for all were transformed into adventures to be recounted as warm memories. As always, Chief Operating Officer Ty Pile and dedicated maintenance technicians Jeff Spears and Jake Nixon deserve our congratulations and gratitude for coping valiantly with each challenge.

I have been particularly impressed by the students’ interest and active participation in addressing topics affecting both day-to-day life and the evolution of our policies and academic programs. Through the healthy dialogue that has evolved, I believe both adults and students have learned to respect and appreciate one another’s perspectives.

Women’s Empowerment Theme

On 8 March – International Women’s Day –  I was proud to  launch the year-long (March 2019 to March 2020)  programmatic theme of Women’s Empowerment. I wish to thank former Alumni and Community Engagement Officer Julia Norman, who was a driving force of this initiative, developing a plan that ensures that the theme, “will guide co-curricular offerings, provide direction for our external relations and engagement, and influence our core educational program whether it be through Global Affairs speakers, Special Topics days, or project weeks.”

Thirteen students participated in a Women’s Empowerment Project Week. Their input, plus that of the 23 students participating in a Capstone Week initiative, is helping shape the year-long theme as well as the College’s participation in the Women Deliver global conference. (More about the important early-June conference in Vancouver later in this update.)

Outreach – Local and Global

In my last update, and regularly in Pearson eNews, we touch upon our many efforts to continue to build meaningful and productive ties with our neighbours, not only with the Scia’new (Beecher Bay) First Nation, but also with organizations, industry influencers and governments throughout Victoria’s Capital Regional District (CRD). I mention just a few of these outreach activities later, including those that brought UWC International representatives into our local community and initiatives to introduce current students and “new alumni” at academic year-end events.

Climate change is one of the issues close to my heart and in which I encourage our community to be actively engaged. On our Special Topics Day devoted to Climate Change, I was thrilled to see so many students, teachers, residents and employees buzzing and brainstorming over lunch in response to the call to action to make Pearson “the greenest campus by 2024” (our 50th anniversary year) and in keeping with the “sustainable future” part of our UWC mission. Altogether, almost 250 participants produced a total of almost 1000 hours’ worth of great ideas!

I have every confidence that the recommendations and proposals – micro and macro, individual and institutional – will result in a comprehensive action plan and that together, we will make a difference. With climate change, the only path to hope is through action; and action starts with a strong sense of personal accountability and agency (the feeling that one can and should make a difference). How can we save the planet if we cannot even take care of the place where we live, study and/or work every day? Do read about one way the College reduces its environmental impact by meticulously assessing and reducing food waste where possible.  

One World 2019


Yet another amazing show! This was my fourth One World, and each year I marvel at the talent and diversity of the student performers who take us on a magical world tour of dance, music and spoken word. The student-driven One World is a perfect illustration of what Pearson College UWC – “Canada’s School for the World” – is all about. I believe it is the artistic expression of our values.

For the first time, the College welcomed Scia’new First Nations Drummers who opened each show with a warm welcome to the audience and an Indigenous land acknowledgement. Twenty-one dance, music and spoken word presentations followed. One World is a Victoria springtime tradition and a way in which our students give back to the community by sharing their cultures and deepest passions. Every student has a role to play – whether on stage, backstage, or in designing, coordinating and staffing the One World Expo. The students are the first to recognize the essential support from staff and faculty, headed by Production Director Libby Mason who, after years of dedicated service to the students of this College, is retiring this year. Libby’s contribution to the success of One World is simply immeasurable.

Project Week 2019


In addition to weekly activities and Extended Home Service, the CAS: Creativity, Action, Service program consists of at least three Project Weeks over two years.
As always, our students planned and executed numerous community-oriented and creative ways to expand their horizons during the 2019 Project Week and this year, thanks to the generosity of former Pearson Board member and alumnus Jean Drouin (YR 15/1990, Canada-ON), 10 Pearson students from Canada (Northwest Territories, Alberta, Newfoundland New Brunswick), Bermuda, Japan, Paraguay, Venezuela, Syria and Bulgaria attended the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa.

My colleague Valérie Colas and I accompanied them and we were so proud! In Valérie’s words: “Our students rocked it!” Daniel Santos Ramirez (YR 44/2019, Venezuela) – for whom English is his third language – was elected by all Forum participants as the Prime Minister for the First Ministers Conference simulation. Anonda Canadien (YR 45/2020, Canada-NWT) was elected head of the Indigenous caucus; and Hailey Touchburn (YR 44/2019, Canada-NB) headed the Atlantic caucus.

In addition to the Forum’s full program, the students met with Federal Court Justice The Honourable Cecily Y. Strickland and other justices, as well as with Sauvé Fellow Éloge Butera, a survivor of the  genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, who spoke of his experience working in human rights and more recently as Senior Policy Advisor to The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for Canada.

Canada Youth Summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted 300 young Canadian leaders at the Summit which launched Canada’s first youth policy and inspired youth to serve their communities. Joyce Truong (YR 45/2020, Canada-ON) attended as Pearson’s delegate. In her statement of interest, she wrote:

Canada is still one of the few countries in the world without a national youth policy. As such, I want to extend my voice, as someone who has analyzed the efficacy of our systems, strived to build new youth initiatives for change, and engaged in the problem-solving processes necessary to pave a better future. Through the contributions from and experiences of other individuals and myself, I believe that we will be able to shape a national youth policy for Canada that aids individuals in the face of the uncertainty in the world today.

Pearson also had a booth at the conference, hosted by Pearson Alum Morwarid Najafizada (YR 40/2015, Afghanistan), who is now studying at University of Ottawa.

UWC Biannual Meeting


On a rotating basis, UWC Colleges host the biannual meetings of Heads and Chairs of UWC Colleges and Schools as well as the International Board and representatives of National Committees. In March, it was Pearson’s honour to welcome more than 70 education leaders from around the world for a stimulating and productive week-long gathering.

A highlight of the social program was the reception hosted by British Columbia Lieutenant Governor Her Honour Janet Austin at Government House. Canada’s Governor General,  Her Excellency Julie Payette, an alumna of UWC Atlantic in Wales, former Pearson Board member and an Honorary Patron of the College , was an honoured guest. During the reception, Pearson students gave a mini-One World performance which was warmly applauded. Please read more about the reception and its importance in Making Friends and Influencing People.

Students and members of the Pearson community enjoyed a number of opportunities on campus to greet UWC meeting participants informally and at a reception followed by another mini-One World Performance. At the meeting’s conclusion, it was announced that the UWC family had expanded to 18, with the unanimous approval of International School Moshi (ISM) in Tanzania as the newest member of the UWC Movement. We warmly welcome the second UWC on the African continent!

Campus Meeting of the Pearson Board of Directors

It is always a great pleasure to host our Board members on campus (12-13 April) as it gives them an opportunity to appreciate first-hand the talents and diversity of our students, Faculty and staff. Several members took part in a community-wide workshop focused on the Educational Vision for the College. The outcomes of the latter process – watch for updates in Pearson eNews — will ultimately be submitted to the Board in November 2019. Students and the Pearson community also had opportunities for informal exchanges with individual Board members in the Dining Hall and enjoyed a “Meet members of the Pearson Board” discussion hosted in the Common Room.

At the dinner I hosted following the Board meeting, Chair Anne McLellan and other guests paid tribute to three of our outstanding new Victoria-area Patrons and former Board members: Tony Macoun, Chuck Burkett and Michael Dingle.

Giving Back to the Community


One of the cornerstone values of UWC is the commitment that We will work at all levels – personally, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally – to do what we can to make the world a better place. The City of Victoria and the surrounding region is at the geographic heart of Pearson’s community. Our Director of Advancement Carly Milloy has done an outstanding job of fostering a strong relationship with groups like the Victoria Foundation, a sponsor of One World and a generous donor to the Victoria Campaign now underway culminating in the renovation of Victoria House in summer 2020.

In mid-April a group of our students attended a workshop on Youth Volunteerism, organized by the Victoria Foundation, at which young leaders in the local community were invited to reflect on the benefits of volunteering and identify the many existing challenges and barriers to this fulfilling activity. Two of our students who are also part of the Vital Youth activity helped with the planning and organization of this event.

The College’s Financial Health

At the Campus Catch-up on 3 May, I shared an update with the community on the state of the College’s financial health. As a non-profit dedicated to deliberate diversity, we understand the importance of fundraising to support student scholarships, innovative curriculum and upgrades to our infrastructure along with ambitious future endeavours such as the creation of a Global Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.

The Campaign to Renew and Re-found Pearson College for the next 50 years of service, scholarship and leadership – which you can read about in our 2017-18 Annual Report — is our plan to help ensure our long-term viability and impact. It is based on a visionary approach to growth that encompasses strategic investments in modernizing campus infrastructure and innovative educational curriculum that expands Pearson’s scope to recruit, educate, engage and empower global changemakers and leaders of all ages.

I am pleased that current figures confirm trends identified in the most recent Annual Report. The deliberate decline in the annual draw from the College’s original endowment fund is a positive sign of prudent fiscal stewardship. We are also seeing positive trends in fundraising as we strategically invest in resources and actions to support these initiatives. All our donors, of course, are dear to us and we thank them for their ongoing generosity and commitment to Pearson.

We are also devoting more attention to increasing the visibility and availability of our facilities for rent to families, community, non-profit, government  and business groups to host events on our beautiful campus. The trends are positive, and we are working hard to improve this income which supports scholarships, program innovation and infrastructure renewal. Ty Pile and Operations and Facilities Management Chief Coordinating Officer Deanna Cuthbert, are doing a great job of overseeing the upgrading and maintenance of facilities to benefit both our core mandate and to enhance rental revenues without compromising our educational mission.

Coming Events

As we experience the final stretch before the end of the academic year, the ‘merry month of May’ is always a period of intense study and stress as students focus on IB exams, completing their extended or Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essays, finalizing their Extended Home Service (EHS) Projects and more.   It culminated on 24 May, with the last IB exam for Year 44, and the end of classes for Year 45. That afternoon, graduating students learned about their status as “new alumni,” indulged in the Pearson tradition of Bay Jumps and gathered on the community lawn for a final, emotional Village Gathering. This day was a prelude to a busy weekend that included the Race Rocks Challenge – a long-distance ocean swim to raise awareness for the College on 25 May and the traditional Campus Clean-Up the next day. Students left campus on 27 May for Capstone Week (Year 45) and year-end programming (Year 44).

Capstone Week and New Alumni Program

After last year’s pilot, Capstone Week and associated year-end activities for first-year students have been retooled and will bear a closer resemblance to a Project Week – a learning experience with a proven track record. Year 45 students will participate in initiatives such as the Women Deliver Conference, hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail and learning more about how to make impactful, progressive change in the world with Organize BC and the Royal BC Museum. A number of Year 44 (graduating) students are taking part in a New Alumni Program – a week’s worth of learning and networking events to allow them to reflect on the last two years and equip them with practical skills as they embark on their post-Pearson adventures.

Women Deliver Conference

I am delighted to be leading a delegation of 23 gender-diverse students from both first and second-years and three staff to Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver, 3-6 June. We will showcase the diversity of our youth and the unique contribution of UWC to women’s education and empowerment and connect with Pearson alumni and other supporters. This aligns with our year-long Women’s Empowerment theme and is a unique opportunity for our students to participate in a high-level, global conference. We are currently planning two side events to the conference, including one in which we hope to collaborate with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, of which alumnus Peter Sands (YR 5/1980, England/UK) is Executive Director.

Summer Activities

Community Foundations of Canada Conference
I am honoured to be the Emcee for this conference held in Victoria 6-8 June which will explore how we can collectively and meaningfully be “#AllIn” for our communities and for a more equitable and sustainable future. This theme is highly relevant to the UWC value of commitment to our communities.

We are delighted to once again welcome Rediscovery to our campus. From 3-15 June, the Rediscovery Leadership & Outdoor Education Training 2019 will be held at Pearson. Rediscovery draws upon the teachings of Indigenous peoples and the wisdom of the Elders, with a philosophy of love and respect for each other and the earth, to empower youth of all ages to discover the world within themselves, the world between cultures and the natural world. The program has a long history with Pearson and has conducted the Training Program on our campus for over 20 years.


22 June – 5 July
Every summer since 1984, the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA) has been bringing together a mix of creative adults, attracting both emerging and established artists, to share our beautiful campus and to create and explore in an artistic immersion nestled next to Pedder Bay. This year, MISSA celebrates its 35th year of residency at Pearson with a packed program (https://missa.ca/calendar/)  –  more than 40 workshops offered to over 400 local, national and international art students. We love MISSA and the wonderful ambiance its artists create!

Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership – PSYL 2019

14 July — 3 August
Each summer, we build an international youth community committed to discovering who they are and what incredible change they can create.
PSYL is an intensive, interactive and experiential learning program that allows young people aged 15 -18 to gain the skills and first-hand experience they need to address urgent environmental, economic and social issues, and apply their leadership skills to local and global concerns affecting their lives. Application Process is open.

Over the summer yet another ambitious renovation project will be underway. It is the turn of the East House student residence to undergo top-to-bottom renovation. The third extensive rebuild of a campus residence house in three years will focus on improving the safe and secure living environment for students and will take place over a compressed summer construction schedule between late May and late August. Having seen the miracles performed by Ty Pile’s crew last year, we have no doubt that the deadlines will be met in time to welcome returning students on 26 August.


We are always proud of our alumni and wish we could celebrate all their achievements. We do try to keep up and I urge you to follow their stories on Alumni Impact. We are particularly pleased to welcome back to Vancouver Island Dr. Deborah Saucier (YR 10/1985, Canada-SK) who will serve as Vancouver Island University ’s next president and vice-chancellor beginning a five-year term in July 2019. Dr. Saucier is an accomplished neuroscientist, dedicated educator and university administrator with a deep commitment to STEM and Indigenous education https://news.viu.ca/deborah-saucier-appointed-next-president-vancouver-island-university We look forward to welcoming her ‘home’ to Pearson!

Also, Congratulations to alumna Marta Morgan (YR 6/1981, Canada-BC) for her recent appointment as Deputy Minister Foreign Affairs. She joined fellow UWC alumna, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland (UWC AD’86), in the Ministry of Global Affairs Canada on 6 May 2019!

The Alumni-in-Residence (A-I-R) program continues to flourish and has been especially enriched this term by the presence of Honorary Alumna-in-Residence, Cadence Matthews, daughter of alumnus Chris Matthews (YR 7/1982, Canada-ON). Since mid-January, Cadence has become a beloved and well-respected campus resident as part of the A-I-R program. Inspired by her father, Cadence has always had close connections to Pearson and the UWC mission. She is currently working on her thesis on using “religion and spirituality as a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and sustainable future.”  As part of her research, Cadence reached out to her father’s alma mater, inquiring if she could offer her services as Campus Chaplain — and we are so glad she did!
I would remind all Alumni that we not only welcome applications for the A-I-R program, but there are also many other forms of Alumni engagement.

Summer Reunions

In August, we will be welcoming back alumni from around the world for their 20 and 30-Year Reunions! Arriving first, will be years 23, 24, 25 and 26 for their 20-Year reunion 4-8 August. Then, years 14, 15, 16, and 17 will come together and celebrate their 30-Year reunion 11-15 August. Planning is advanced, thanks to our Alumni Relations staff and keen alumni who are helping plan and organize programming and logistics, encouraging classmates to make travel plans and getting them excited about re-connecting with each other. In addition to the organizing committee, alumni are working on the Travel Fund Committee – an initiative that helps fund the costs associated with attending a reunion for alumni who would not otherwise be able to attend.

A Few Comings & Goings

Benoît Charlebois (YR 9/1984, Canada-QC), Director, Alumni Engagement, Host of Alumni & Community House, Resident and indefatigable cheerleader for all things Pearson and UWC will be moving off campus this summer with his wife and gracious co-host, Anamaria Gomez Upegui. They will be taking up residence in Gatineau, Quebec and, be assured, Benoît will continue to work with Pearson as Director of Engagement from their new home base. Watch for more on this in a future Pearson eNews..

As mentioned earlier, Faculty member Libby Mason is retiring after 18 years at Pearson and is leaving at the end of this term. It is hard to imagine One World without her, and even harder to imagine Libby as ‘retired’. However, she will leave with our warmest wishes for much success and happiness in whatever she next undertakes. We will sorely miss her.

Marija Uzunova Dang is joining us this summer as our Experiential Education Coordinator. Marija is Macedonian and has lived around the world while studying for her BA, Anthropology at the American University in Bulgaria and her MA, Science Technology and Society at Maastricht University (with a year at Bard College, Berlin). Since 2013, she has lived in India – both leading and directing outdoor expeditions and being involved in house parenting, teaching and the creation of the project-based diploma at Mahindra UWC.

Navo Chakraborty (YR 42/2017, Singapore) will be working with us over the summer, supporting our summer programs. Navo is a Pearson alumnus (YR42) who is working on his double major, Bachelor of Arts & Sciences, Physics and Philosophy Honours at McGill University in Montreal.

Finally, Julia Norman has moved on from Alumni Relations and Community Engagement to a new role with the provincial government of British Columbia in the Ministry of Advanced Education. We wish her well in as she tackles the role of policy analyst in this important ministry.

Luisa Vasquez has rejoined the Alumni Engagement team, succeeding Julia as Alumni & Community Engagement Officer.

Watch for more about new faces at the College in future updates and editions of Pearson eNews.