PC Year 24
“Sometimes I still feel I am that same person that walked along the paths of Pearson College. I feel the same excitement about life and I feel lucky to have preserved that feeling through all the winding roads I have travelled since Pearson. I truly believe that this inspiration is what keeps me alive in my job as a teacher; a deep and true belief in life and the passion for a better world that I shared at Pearson.”
After graduation Rita studied in Austria, completing her Masters in Education (English and Biology). She is actively involved in the Austrian UWC network and chaired the National Committee for some years. While working at a UWC short course in Montenegro, she became involved in the Short Course Graduate Network and organized a summer graduate reunion in Austria.
“My motivation to work with other people, young or old, has always been to pass on the spark that keeps the fire inside me burning. I love sharing my enthusiasm for things, and I cherish new forms of encounters more and more, encounters where we learn from each other in mutual respect. I try to do that in my everyday life, challenging my students by showing them that I am a learner, too!”
Rita currently teaches Biology at a bilingual high school in her hometown, Innsbruck. She is also a freelance outdoor trainer in experiential education programs for various institutions. She volunteers at the Austrian Alpine Association as a youth leader, youth representative on the board and coordinator of local youth programs.
“I am still looking for a way to bridge the gap between my job in formal education, with its limiting factors such as school curricula, classroom size or even the students’ expectations, with my conviction that education happens elsewhere. When I open up a space for learning and growth in my outdoor youth leadership camps, I see young adults learning from Mother Nature, learning from the cycles of life, learning from each other. I want to be able to offer more of that treasure box to the generations of tomorrow; those things I discovered in our wilderness expeditions back at Pearson and through living and learning with people from all over the world.”
PC Year 34
Unlike the majority of students at Pearson, Nessa Kenny did not stray far from home when she won a scholarship to study at Pearson College. As a Victorian it was natural that she would look for summer employment in BC and she spent the summer after graduating from Pearson working as a kayaking, hiking and canoeing guide.
Dropping into campus one late August to return some borrowed equipment, Nessa ran into a number of current students, all new arrivals since she had graduated. She found them welcoming and was soon engaged in conversations. Her overall impression of those moments prompted her to write to David Hawley, the current Director of the College, telling him that: “Walking around campus reminded me of what an accepting place Pearson truly is. That few minutes on campus reminded me of two things. First, that making just a little effort to interact with someone new makes a world of difference. Second, I went to the best school in the world.”
Nessa is currently studying Peace and Conflict at the University of Toronto where she reports: “I'm still trying to find activities and people that make me excited in Toronto. It's odd that those things seemed over-abundant at Pearson.” However, in true UWC fashion, Nessa and some UWC friends have decided to do something about it. They recently won approval to form a “United World Club” and have plans to host special topic days, global issue forums and panel discussions at U of T throughout the year.
PC Year 13
Renald Cousineau is currently principal of Woodroffe High School (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board) in Canada’s national capital.
As an instructional leader, my goal is to ensure that the education system can respond to the ever changing needs of the 21st century learner.
Immersed in the stunning beauty of the Canadian West Coast and Pearson’s diversity, my experience at the college was transformative. The UWC experience is first and foremost about the human element, the people you live with, learn from and share two years of your life with. Everyday life becomes a celebration of diversity and the respect for the human spirit. Pearson leaves an indelible mark on all those who experience it. It was at Pearson that I truly connected with my passion for learning.
My experience at Pearson prompted me to pursue a career in education. After completing my undergrad degree (Major in History and a Minor in Political Philosophy) and a Master’s degree in History, I completed a Bachelor of Education and entered the most fulfilling profession in the world. Throughout my time as a classroom teacher, I sought opportunities to break down the classroom walls and expose my students to rich learning opportunities made available in the information age. From 1999-2002, I was a lead teacher in the LearnCanada Project, a virtual learning community focusing on implementing innovative technologies (video conferencing, wikis and others.) in a project-based classroom. In order to enrich the interaction of the learners, we strived to develop inter-dependency amongst the various sites. Learning was happening globally, fitting for a world where we need global solutions to address common challenges.
Many years later, I now realize just how much my days at Pearson helped shape my philosophy of education. The Pearson curriculum (academic, cultural, extra-curricular, service and social pillars), was what I would qualify as a peek learning opportunity. The college is quite unique, having the ability to provide such rich learning conditions. Students learn the value of teamwork and trust, learn to take risks and be creative. In doing so, they develop an appreciation for the vulnerability of the ecosystem as they are constantly reminded by the beauty that surrounds them.
In my role as an instructional leader, I strive to bring the spirit of this learning environment to my school. Unlike many educational settings that are fashioned on the industrial model, Pearson College offers an organic model to learning. A fundamental principle of good teaching is to connect with and meet the learners where they are. Pearson College connects with learners, reaches out across the planet to where they are and engages them in learning. Little wonder I became so passionate about learning. In my current setting, I work tirelessly to redefine the physical space of learning, to foster a paradigm focus on learning (rather than simply teaching), to be relevant to the lives of today’s youth (a curriculum for their future and not our past), and to celebrate diversity and confront intolerance.
PC Year 8
A lifelong love for Cohen poetry and for jazz began for me at Pearson College during night-long wandering conversations about our dreams, different ways of relating to the world and to each other, and an amazing array of options for making a difference.
My foolish willingness for all nighters has long vanished, but a suburban kid from Quebec who previously had barely travelled has been changed forever. A world of possibilities opened up at Pearson College along with a sense of responsibility and humility for living up to the idea of being a global citizen and promoting the public good.
The wonderful privilege of experiencing the UWC education at Pearson College eventually led to a career in civil service, the Canadian Government and the UN. For more than 20 years, I have witnessed incredibly challenging situations ranging from genocide and civil wars to climate change and extreme poverty. Far from being shattered by these experiences, the humanist and inclusive vision that I first encountered at Pearson has been re-energized by the amazing people and communities that I have come across over the years and their belief that a better world is both possible and urgent.
After graduating with a Masters in Political Sciences and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto, I lived for nearly 10 years in Asia and Africa. In recent years, I have held the position of executive director of an international development organization and, in 2009, was the first executive director of the Global Campaign for Climate Action/Tck Tck Tck, a cross-sector civil service initiative bringing together over 250 international organizations and networks in support of transformational change and rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Of course, the 2009 Copenhagen Conference was a failure and a missed historical opportunity that we collectively need to learn from. Now, as Executive Director of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, I aim to better connect the amazing wealth of research and knowledge that exists across this country with policy making and engaged citizens in Canada and abroad. Scholars and social scientists can help bring meaning, understanding and concrete policy innovation. Lester B. Pearson’s vision and values for coexistence, empathy and mutual understanding remain as valid as ever. Each of us, in our own unique ways, can make that vision a greater part of our global reality.
PC Year 27
My years at Pearson have been an eye opener in many ways. The relationships, experiences and challenges have prepared me for what life has to offer. This wonderful opportunity has had a significant role in my work today. After Pearson I studied English and History at the University of Copenhagen. Today I work at the local high school in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk. My experiences at Pearson enrich my teaching here. It is wonderful to be in a situation where you have hands on, practical interaction with young people and the opportunity to be a role model in a country with so few people and a need for more educated people.
Besides my work, I am part of an alumni group that informs young people about the scholarships at Pearson and Red Cross Nordic UWC. Currently we are working on the possibility of creating a National Committee consisting of former Greenlandic UWC students. Today, eight years after Pearson, I have a husband, a three-year-old son and a new baby on the way in less than two months. Motherhood is amazing, the things I learned at Pearson continue on in my parenting as I strive to be open-minded, giving, understanding and teaching these aspects of life to my children.
PC Year 16
At Pearson College Lilian discovered forestry and her passion for the environment and rural development. She holds a forestry degree and has postgraduate studies in public policy.
Lilian’s approach to academics was multidisciplinary, something she learned at Pearson: "Science is fundamental but if people don't understand each other no technology or scientific answer holds. Pearson definitely influenced my career choice and deepened my empathy for both nature and people, so I undertook both life science and social science studies."
?Her path in environment and development has taken her to work for the United Nations Development Program and more recently with WWF, where she now works in Institutional Development for the Central America program.
"Pearson was influential on so many levels and aspects of the woman I have become, its mark on me is powerful, deep and strong. I am committed to living up to the ideals of peace and a sustainable future and I am making a difference, in my country, my third world country, my country that needs environmental leaders, that needs people committed to changing how society views sustainable development and peace."
Lilian devotes a significant amount of her free time to selecting new candidates for Pearson and the United World Colleges. She has participated actively in the National Committees of Guatemala and Costa Rica and is now selecting Belizean UWCers remotely via the Internet. Times have changed!
PC Year 25
I would like to share with you a few thoughts and feelings on why attending Pearson College is one of the best things that happened to me. Moving from an island in the Atlantic Ocean to an island in the Pacific Ocean was truly transformative.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted to Pearson College in 1998. The process was serendipitous as is often the case in Iceland. The headmaster of my high school in Akranes called me and another student into his office to encourage us to apply for three scholarships to these so called United World Colleges one for Hong Kong, one for Norway and one for Pearson College in Canada. Had the information simply been posted on the school’s notice board (like other secondary schools did), I might never have seen it and my life would have been poorer for it.
Pearson College is much more than a place of outstanding academic education; it is a melting pot of hope, youth and dreams. An academic education is valuable, for sure, and is available to far too few people in the world. It is, however, something you can achieve anywhere if you have the right resources; you do not need a place as unique as Pearson College to excel academically.
Pearson College provided me with two years of getting to know the world and in the process to get to know myself and Iceland. When you live alongside 200 students with different religions, nationalities and outlooks you quickly realize one thing: they are you. They have the same hopes, potential and even shortcomings. Once you see others as yourself you start relating to them as individuals without labels.
This connection then allows you to appreciate the challenges that the world faces and to empathize with others in their hour of need. It also open doors with respect to any kind of international relationships––something every nation needs––in particular Iceland with our dependence on international trade. I received a Master of Science in industrial engineering from the University of Iceland and am now am an engineer at Registers Iceland.
I have long thought that it was a great pity that I am the only Icelandic student to have attended Pearson College, since the college’s focus shifted more towards students from the Pacific region in my second year, especially given the historic connection between Iceland and Canada. I was therefore delighted when I learned that the college was once again considering an Icelandic Scholarship.
It is impossible to fully capture the benefits of attending Pearson College. I could point to multiple aspects of my life that are better because of it, but it is something that needs to be experienced––and I hope that many more do.
PC Year 3
When we were asked at Pearson College in the 1970s to make contributions for inclusion in our Yearbook I felt strongly drawn to this phrase: When I came to Pearson my schooling ended and my education began.
That's how I felt then as an idealistic teenager: that's still how I feel now.
All these years on I tell friends, colleagues and the people among whom I work that, in order fully to understand me, they need to know about my Pearson experience and years. It had an irreversible, life-changing impression on me. Today, in many situations in which I find myself in life and work, in framing ideas and fashioning a response to many situations, Pearson and all it taught me are my default setting.
The impulses of this formation stem not only from formal education and the academic programme, but also from the wider activities on the campus and in the local communities. Much of it was nurtured and nourished by people in all their diversity and humanity, their joys and struggles and the common experience we shared together. The stunning location––not least the trees––played its indelible role, too.
Above all else, for me the years at Pearson opened my eyes, my mind and my heart. For these things I will always be grateful. I brought them with me to law school, in my theological studies, in my work in Northern Ireland, in West Dublin. in all the travels I have undertaken; in the many challenges I have encountered and also in my work as bishop in a minority community in Ireland.
Learn more about The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, The Right Reverend Bishop Paul Colton’s life and career at his online biography athttp://www.cork.anglican.org/people/bishopsbiog.html.
PC Year 8
Having earned university degrees in Israel and France, and having worked as a lawyer (in Israel), a professor of Legal history (in Spain), professor of history (at the University of Chicago) and professor at Stanford. Tamar now teaches at Harvard, where she challenges her students to think about connections between past and present, local and global.
At Harvard, Tamar’s research interest’s center on the relationship between Spain and Spanish America, and the ways by which Spanish society changed as a result of its involvement in a colonial project. Those changes occurred both in Spain and Spanish America and involve questions of identity and communal formation, regionalism and nationalism, the configuration of territorial entities, communications and networks, immigration and problems of race, ethnicity and political representation.
Tamar is widely published; her latest book dealt with issues of citizenship and naturalization and her current interest is in border conflicts and land claims. Among her many awards, Tamar is the recipient of the XIV International Prize of Spanish American Legal History Ricardo Levene, corresponding to the period 2000-2 for her book Ritos de control, prácticas de negociación, 2003.
Pearson College, Tamar reflects, left her with some incredible gifts that she now shares with others: it introduced her to the Hispanic world, it encouraged her to think about social and political processes, it allowed her to imagine the possibility of different routes and different futures, but, above all, it brought to her life the joy of learning.
PC Year 26
Becoming part of the Pearson College experience resulted as a last-minute change when the College advised my National Selection Committee that there was no room for a female. I was chosen among the male students because of my past experiences in scouting and the outdoors––after all, Canada was a “forested, mountainous” country. I arrived nearly two months late but was immediately made to feel welcome and at home.
Victoria became my home for several years because after Pearson I studied Political Science and Spanish at the University of Victoria, graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in 2005.
I returned to Namibia and presently live in Windhoek where I work as a Foreign Relations Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (after earlier work in the PayTV industry). I am married and have one daughter.
While at Pearson I was fortunate to have Laureen and Dan Evans as my host family. This open-minded, giving, kind, SMART and informed couple became like parents to me, and they offered me a home while I studied at university. They were my moral support and my advisors and treated me as their own son, feeding me, housing me, clothing me, encouraging me, motivating me and HUGGING me.Our first born arrived in February 2010. We were delighted to honour the Evans by naming our child Laureen Blessing Carmela.
I have a passion for young people and for helping them achieve their God-given purpose in life. I have had a long career in volunteering, starting before I went to Pearson when I was a motivational speaker and counselor. Since returning home I have been a youth leader in my church, a youth pastor and I am presently an ordained assistant pastor. We have formed a group called “Youth One” and its purpose is to empower youth to become leaders in their communities and bring positive change in others’ lives, through the knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ and by using the principles of the Bible as their ultimate resource. We help youth develop their relationship with God, build character, learn leadership skills and take “ownership” of their country by serving the communities in which they live.
Pearson College opened up opportunities for me to connect to a wealth of people during my two years and subsequent years at UVic. The human connections I made and the effect they have had on my life are too profound to put in words. All I can say is that Pearson changed my life, thanks be to God.
In July of 2010, I was posted to Geneva, Switzerland for a period of four years by the Namibian Government to form part of a team that would establish the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. I am joined by my beautiful wife Nandi and baby Laureen.
PC Year 23
After graduating from Pearson College I finished a Bachelor of Science degree in Computing Science and Contemporary Dance at Simon Fraser University. I lived in Vancouver for eight years, during which I worked on and off in both the software industry and in the performing arts. I volunteered for student organizations and for nonprofit groups, such as the Firehall Arts Centre (which showcases the voices and perspectives of diverse and marginalized contemporary artists), Judith Marcuse Projects (an arts and social change organization) and the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group.
Moving back to the Philippines I joined the faculty of the University of the Philippines Open University, teaching and developing courses in multimedia studies. My most recent project with the University was Biomodd [LBA2], an artistic collaboration that worked in the intersections of biology, social technology, green advocacy, and installation art.
Currently I am on leave from the Open University and doing graduate studies at SFU's School of Interactive Arts and Technology where I continue to do research into the body, technology, human movement, performance, education and the arts.
I cannot overstate the impact that Pearson College has had on my development as a human being. I learned the tools to extend my mind, my heart, my soul and my body to all the world because of this school. Through the IB activities program, I deepened my appreciation of the importance of balance. Through the IB academic program I took ever more steps towards intellectual rigour. Through the host family program, I was cocooned in an extraordinary protective layer of care and support second only to the experience of being with my own family (I could not imagine having survived Pearson without my host mother, Dieza). Through the experience of living with students from all over the world, I began a journey towards understanding and negotiating intercultural conflict.
Pearson College is a crucible and an attractor for wonder and hope and passion, and the time I spent there remains the most extraordinary two years of my life.
PC Year 26
The UWC experience played a crucial role in shaping my passion to develop a deeper understanding of the world. Growing up in Poland, I had limited exposure to diverse perspectives and conflicting ways of thinking. Being immersed in the international environment at Pearson challenged my well-established views and perceptions. Continuous interactions with 200 students from 83 countries highlighted the need to approach highly complex issues with an open and critical mindset. I loved having night-long conversations with friends from all over the world.
What I quickly learned at Pearson College was that any complex issue had more than just one answer and that finding those multiple answers required the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. Moreover, throughout my studies at Pearson, I was always encouraged to develop intellectual curiosity and to search for counterintuitive answers to difficult problems. Professors Geoffrey Tindyebwa, Robin Tyner, Andrew Spray and Andrew Sewell offered amazing guidance and support.
It is the passion for learning and finding answers to complex issues that I took with me when I left Pearson College. It was that same curious mind that drove me to conduct empirical research in social sciences. I graduated from Pearson 2000 and continued my undergrad studies at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Subsequently I pursued a doctorate in Business Management at the University of Michigan.
Ever since graduating from Pearson College I have been trying to work and live in environments that are equally challenging and stimulating. Hence, I currently work as an Assistant Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I conduct research on entrepreneurship and technological innovation. In hindsight, I have no doubt that Pearson prepared me well for this type of career. Every day I teach and interact with young and bright students at MIT who, just like Pearson students, come from all over the world. Every day I tackle complex theoretical and practical problems that require finding sophisticated answers difficult to see when one first approaches the question.
Most important, Pearson College equipped me with amazing amount of social capital––a dense friendship network that extends beyond geographic boundaries and that seems to persist even as time goes by.
PC Year 25
To study at Pearson College was a dream come true for a woman from a poor background yet with a strong passion for science and international affairs.
At the time, scholarships such as those offered by UWC were practically unheard of in Romania. Surrounded as we were by such corruption, many of my friends did not even bother to apply, convinced the selection process would be rigged. I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism of the Romanian UWC selection committee and I suspect that my activities in ecological organizations and my work with Save the Children influenced its decision. However, I did not allow myself to celebrate my acceptance until I was actually on board a plane to Vancouver!
To have been awarded a UWC scholarship was truly my first encounter with fairness and a meritocratic system. Above all, it gave me access to a new type of education in which I could freely express my opinions before a diverse community. I was encouraged to pursue my intellectual curiosity and I was expected to innovate at every step.
I immediately took advantage of this new-found intellectual freedom to explore topics I would have never had access to in my home country. This is how, under the supervision of my wonderful mentor, Professor Jean Godin, I became an active member of the Astronomy club. I was incredibly fortunate to benefit from a well-equipped observatory that allowed me to quickly learn how to maneuver a 24-inch Newtonian telescope and take spectacular pictures of the night sky. I also took my passion for astronomy back home and there, in the summer of 1999 during the total sun eclipse, was able to capture on camera the famous Diamond Ring Effect. That beautiful image was awarded first prize at a photography contest at Metchosin Days fall festival.
Leaving Victoria, I went from the telescope back to the microscope, pursuing a biochemistry undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. There, too, I enjoyed a most diverse environment (making my departure from Pearson a bit easier to bear).
Ever since graduating from Pearson College I have been trying to recreate the enriching and challenging environment I enjoyed at Pearson. I have looked for a place where people from all walks of life are eager to debate world problems until the early hours and ready, willing and able to take action when required. That is why I now find myself in the "city that never sleeps," New York, relishing the diversity of opinions and personalities. I am currently a student at Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, finishing my doctorate work in Chromosome and Cell Biology at Rockefeller University, a field in which I have thus far co-authored five scientific publications (the latest published in Science). My scientific work was recognized by the du Vigneaud Prize of Excellence for an oral presentation at Cornell University and the Anderson Center Prize for the best poster at Rockefeller.
Recently, I had the honour to be named "Student of the Year" for 2010 by the League of Romanian Students Abroad. That road “abroad” started for me with Pearson College and I have no doubt it was the experience that set the standard for the type of education I wanted and the kind of person that I want to become. More important, the greatest gift I took from Pearson was life-long friendships that serve daily as a reminder of that amazing place in the forest around Pedder Bay.
PC Year 24
Vee graduated from Pearson College winning the Trent-Thailand International Scholarship, which enabled him to pursue his Bachelor’s degree at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Then it was on to Niigata, Japan, for graduate studies under the Japanese Government (Monbukoagakusho) Scholarship, followed by attendance at the London School of Economics, where Vee obtained an Masters in International Relations in 2005.
Upon returning to Thailand, Vee joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand. He spent four years as a diplomatic officer based in Bangkok, during which time he occasionally travelled to attend various meetings and conferences. In July 2010 Vee was posted to the Royal Thai Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, where he is currently Second Secretary, responsible for economic affairs.
Reflecting on his years at Pearson, Vee said: “I believe that the UWC experience has provided me with a unique international perspective on life, which has endeavoured me to explore and discover what the world has to offer through extensive studies and travels in all continents of the globe. This international outlook has further enabled me to approach all issues with a cooperative mindset, which ideally suits my present career as a diplomatic officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand."
PC Year 8
After graduating from Pearson College, and taking a year off to work as a waiter on the QE2, Andrew Brown earned a Bachelors Degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University followed by two Masters Degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language and in Education Marketing.
Andrew views the UWC movement as essentially about putting young, capable people together and enabling them to develop the attitudes and skills that will later make it possible for them to engage more effectively with society and with the world at all levels.
His life’s work and particularly his latest endeavor, “Talk Together” (see below) is taking this model and focusing it on a particular issue––using the same basic processes, ideas and ideals of UWC and applying them very practically and pragmatically.
Andrew has had a broad career in teaching and also a stint in politics when he served as a Labour County Councillor in Oxford. He has run over 40 summer schools in the UK, worked at an IB school in Oxford, set up a professional association for English Language teachers and developed an online recruitment website (still in use by the British Council.)
In 2003 Andrew and his wife Caroline set up a new school in Oxford, Education aBc (andrewBrowncaroline), as an accredited summer English Language Training Centre. They have spent winter months on a variety of projects, including setting up a series of training centres in Russia and one in France, and are currently planning one in Canada. Andrew and Caroline have started a number of sustainability initiatives, which are outlined on their Education aBc website.
Using the resources of Education aBc, Andrew and Caroline built a new conflict resolution program called Talk Together. Working with UWC colleges, including Pearson College, they arrange for young people from different sides of a conflict to come together for a two-week program where the participants learn all the different perspectives of a situation and receive training in conflict resolution techniques, deal making and lateral thinking. The group is challenged to imagine new scenarios that would resolve a situation. The first program, Talk Together 2009 and 2010, focused on Western Sahara.
Each of these initiatives reflect the firm conviction Andrew formed at Pearson College––that the youth of today can together make a difference.
Rita Maria Fuchs, Austria , PC YR 24
Nessa Kenny, Canada (BC), PC YR 34
Renald Cousineau, Canada (Ontario), PC YR 13
Jean-Marc Mangin, Canada (Quebec), PC YR 8
Arnannguaq "Aaqa" Christiansen (Kreutzmann), Greenland, PC YR 27
Lilian Márquez Barrientos, Guatemala, PC YR 16
Ingi Þór Finnsson, Iceland, PC YR 25
Paul Colton, Ireland, PC YR 3
Tamar Herzog, Israel, PC YR 8
Absalom “Sharx” Nghifitikeko, Namibia, PC YR 26
Diego Maranan, Philippines, PC YR 23
Olenka Kacperczyk, Poland, PC YR 26
Cristina Ghenoiu, Romania, PC YR 25
Vee Chansa-Ngavej, Thailand, PC YR 24
Andrew Brown, United Kingdom, PC YR 8