Pearson College was built in the forests of Southern Vancouver Island on the unceded territory of the Scia'new (Beecher Bay) First Nation. About an hours drive from Victoria, or 2 hours by bus, our community is quite isolated. We call it the "Pearson Bubble", because as a student at Pearson, it is quite impossible to have a life outside of Pearson. We had the forest to roam, the ocean to play in, and a lake nearby to swim in during the warmer months. For me, being surrounded by nature was perfect, but some students who thrive in the city sometimes found Pearson's isolated location to be constricting. We had many host families in the area who would come to campus for Regional Day shows, where we would perform songs, dances, and poems form our cultures. Sometimes on weekends, project weeks, or holidays, students would stay at host families and in this way develop connections to the local community. The town of Metchosin, where Pearson exists on the outskirts, is a small and friendly one with lots of farmland. It is a very safe place to be and students sometimes walk into MyChosen cafe for a meal or cheesecake.
My daughter, Kristen, attends UWC-Adriatic which is one of 17 UWC schools worldwide. Her school is located in Duino, Italy and is situated in an idyllic location overlooking the Adriatic and next door to a castle. Students venture beyond the school grounds to complete community service or sporting events. They are encouraged to go explore the world cultural sites in the area and partake in community activities. They are treated as young, respectable adults and encouraged to learn not only their schoolwork, but also about the people and world around them.
The school was in the most beautiful place I've ever seen. The physical aspect of the school played a huge role in its impact for me. Personally, I made a point of visiting host families in the town and nearby city, as well as go on hikes in the area. It was certainly isolated, so I'm sure that somebody who didn't have much of a wandering spirit could feel trapped.