UWC Canada (Pearson College) is an amazing place for students who want to have a unique and very intense experience. It is not for everyone, but my personal experience was outstanding and provided me with incredible tools for life, especially when it comes to interpersonal relations in a multicultural and diverse context. I particularly enjoyed the fact that students were encouraged to take initiative, speak up and put together various projects. I hope that student involvement and initiative remains a priority for the school and that students are encouraged to pursue their goals. I think the school prepared me well for my next steps, although I would like to see UWC Canada becoming not only a safe space for students but also a place where students learn how to get the tools they will need to face life, especially when it comes to their own personal well being. The students could be encouraged to take more advantage of their surroundings and the people around them to learn how and when to get help to thrive later in life.
I attended Mahindra United World College of India through the Canadian UWC National Committee. It was hands down the most incredible experience of my life. It pushed me to see the world, myself and my own capabilities far beyond what I new possible. What truly makes UWC unique is the community as everyone on campus has made a huge effort as well as sacrifice to be there and they care about making the world a better place one individual at a time. The part that stands out most to me about my experience with UWC was a program called "triveni" which enabled students to identify problems in the world around them, be it at a campus, local or global level and come together to develop projects to address those problems. I was involved with starting a women's empowerment initiative and served with the fire and rescue service aiming to protect the nearby bio-reserve from wildfires. Both experiences taught me enormously and they were great fun!
My daughter Kristen is having an amazing time at UWC-Adriatic and is making new friends from different countries.. The school offers the International baccalaureate and accepts students from all over the world. As such, it operates as a mini united nations where students are encouraged and inspired to reach their full academic potential, while at the same time maintaining a balanced life with exciting sporting endeavours and an outreach program of community service. Because it is an IB program, the academics at UWC-Adriatic are rigorous and students who go there score very well. My daughter is excelling in her studies and maintains that because school life is balanced between studies, sports and service she doesn't feel the pressure of studying 24-7. Studying with kids from all over the globe gives her insight into others' perspective and a broad worldview.
I attended Pearson College UWC and the most striking aspect of my education was how holistic and all-encompassing it was. Not only was I challenged academically, I was in a new environment with other motivated youth from around the world. I discovered interests that are still my passions today, such as ceramics and advocacy. I would change the academic program. The IB, while it was once cutting-edge, now feels like an obstacle to the real potential of a school like UWC. I think the school could really benefit from a revision of their academic development. I absolutely feel that the school prepared me well. In large part, this is due to the kinds of students it attracted and admitted. The cohorts of people that the college bring together are phenomenal and give so much hope. I certainly feel like I am part of a movement who, having had such an incredible experience, have a duty to share what we lived. I would say that you can expect to have everything flipped upside down and that it is very important for you to maintain a sense of self. I found that, by having an activity I did alone, I could re-focus myself when there were so many other things going on. It's incredibly challenging and equally rewarding.
When I arrived at Pearson, I could feel just how different of a place it was than any other school in the world. First of all, being in a deliberately diverse community of 160 students representing around 80 countries alongside faculty and staff from all over the world inherently pushes you out of your comfort zone in a beautifully unifying way. We lived in houses of 40 with each room consisting of 4 students from different countries. This is one of the most key aspects of UWC– living with people from all different cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds, and being forced to figure out how to live harmoniously. The communication skills I gained here could not have been done in any other way but true experiential learning, and the flexibility and adaptability I grew to have was largely thanks to the compromises that need to happen between roommates. Pearson prepared me incredibly well for my next steps; travelling through Europe on my gap year. I came out more understanding, more bold, more confident, more curious, more open, more receptive to different ideas, more emotionally intelligent, more resilient, and so many more valuable things. One thing I would change about the school is to have more time there on campus with everyone before and after the academic year to really take advantage of the diversity of the community instead of being sucked into an academic system that inherently stratified the student body. Additionally, it would be ideal to have full scholarships for every student again. I say this because it serves as a barrier for families who could contribute, but do not support their children in going to the school. This occurred to an extent in my situation, and I know some of my co-years went through this too. Evidently, everything worked out in my case, but I am afraid that not every accepted student lucky enough to have the support of their families.