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By Nina Moroso, UWC National Committee of Canada Coordinator

The application deadline for Canadians to apply to attend a UWC school came and went in mid-November and now the waiting game for the hundreds of young hopefuls who logged into the online system to share their desire to be part of the growing UWC movement is underway!

The next step is for dedicated National Committee of Canada volunteers to review, select and nominate about 50 students to attend UWC schools in 2019 (January 2020 at UWC Waterford Kamhlaba).

The process of selection involves upwards of 80 volunteers around the country. During December, selection teams in 13 provinces and territories, as well as one “virtual” team, will be reading applications to determine which candidates will be invited to attend in-person interviews and activities. For many of these steadfast volunteers, the Christmas holidays, as well as weekends and evenings, are spent pouring over the submissions from in their region. UWC selection in Canada hinges on their devotion to this task and their skillful appraisals.

Between mid-January and mid-February, the in-person component of selection takes place. For volunteers who have keenly reviewed written applications, meeting candidates in person is the reward for their labours!

Every region hosts face-to-face interviews and whenever possible, also facilitate interaction and activities between the candidates themselves. In some regions, this part of the selection process is a multi-day experience that incorporates parent-info sessions and large group activities.

For the applicants themselves, despite some initial nerves, they come away from the experience feeling like they have had a real taste of UWC. They relish the chance to speak with alumni from different UWCs.  And for some, meeting other candidates means finding true peers and a genuine exposure to the UWC mission and values.

The time and energy it takes to create such a meaningful experience for the candidates and their families is a testament to the professionalism and enthusiasm of the UWC volunteer community in Canada. 

After the meetings and interviews are over and selection teams have had a chance to deliberate about their recommendations, a central nominations committee works to match selected students with available places at UWC. The recipients of regional scholarships (Alberta, Yukon, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador) are notified and the other finalists are asked to declare their UWC school preferences. For those seeking financial aid, the nominations committee requests some basic financial information in order to conduct means-testing.

Because of the sensitive nature of this aspect of selection, the nominations team is comprised of only five to six people. During the final six weeks of the process, this small but mighty team will put in about 300 hours of assessments, lengthy conversations with families, negotiations with schools, and careful deliberations to ensure that as many students as possible can attend UWC and that each nominee is in a position to thrive at their schools.

The foundation of every national committee is built on strong volunteerism and a commitment to UWC. The National Committee of Canada is unique amongst the 160+ such committees in the UWC movement because of its geography, history, and complexity. Canada’s network of volunteers, who make selection happen every year, are an inspiring group of individuals to work with.  They are responsible for what is arguably the most important function of our National Committee, and it is an honour to work with them.