The Start of Second Year

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So it’s definitely been awhile, but now I’m back at Pearson and ready to begin again full force! 

Before I really do start again, though, I want to thank all of my readers behind their screens for their passion and interest in my blog. I didn’t realize how much people appreciated me writing until I met my first years and I’ve had quite a few come up to me and say things like, “Your blog inspired me to apply to Pearson!” or “Your blog really helped answer some of my questions!” Today, even, someone mentioned this blog as one of their favourite blogs, in response to a question in their English class. So, thank you, darling followers! 

The Welcome Sign for the incoming first years!                                                   credits to Camille Ross-Williams

Returning to campus after being gone for so long was strange, especially when the absence of our second years was so obvious, spiritually as well as physically. However, after a couple of days of tone setting, the new students arrived and we have seemed to adjust already quite quickly with the new presences on campus. 

I am the only second year in my room, which has actually been quite nice because I can lead independently and I really have a lot of say as to how the room atmosphere will develop. My three first year roommates are Nilsu from Turkey, Annabelle from Quebec, and Noëmi from Sweden. We all get along marvellously, although I sense that we’re all quite quiet but I’m hoping things will become more relaxed in time. 

One of the first activities that we did with the first years was a walk to Taylor Beach, which is probably about 30-45 minutes away from Pearson College if you just follow the regional Galloping Goose trail. 

Making a circle at Taylor Beach. Credits to Camille Ross-Williams

It was an activity that we did last year and it’s really nice because it gives people lots of time to talk and vaguely get to know one another. 

The rest of Orientation Week was quite a blur because we were constantly running around trying to make it in time for things from swim tests to culture speed dating to UWC Values Workshops. And one cannot forget all the time we must devote to being a good, well-rounded second year mentors for the new students as it is our goal to demonstrate Pearson’s atmosphere as safe, inclusive, and fun. 

Classes have begun by now and I think I am liking them all so far. English is by the most stressful since I consider it one of my weaker IB subjects. Nevertheless, if I put in the required effort, I think that I will be able to succeed fine. Already in History and Philosophy I have been assigned the Internal Assessment (IA) and in Theory of Knowledge, I have my ToK Essay which is due in two weeks. This term will be crazy but I expected it as third term is supposed to be the toughest. 

Today, in Marine Science, for our first class of the year, we went to the Mudflats but I’ll post about that later when I have the photos! So, until then 🙂 

Where am I now?

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but I think I have deserved the break. Pearson is an exhausting experience and for awhile just thinking about it and dwelling on my memories of first year was mentally tiring. But now, I am back and ready to charge into second year. 

Currently, I am very much enjoying my three month long summer holidays, although by now, I have a little over a month left until I’ll be back on the beautiful, coastal campus of the Canadian UWC. I must admit that I miss Pearson desperately, but the three month summer holiday has been welcomed with open arms and I came to terms with how much I love certain people, especially my mother. Some advice that I have for anybody who leaves home for the first time, feeling excited to leave the nest: appreciate what you have when you have it, and then feel worthy of missing it later. Don’t run away from home too early because after that, you can’t turn back. 

But again I am found to be running from home again as I am now in Europe until August 20th and then on the 28th, I’ll be in the company of my beloved second years, awaiting the arrival of Pearson College Year 41. 

The first month of holidays (June), I was at home in British Columbia, loving every moment spent with my mother, my brother, my stepfather, my dog, and my friends. I focussed heavily on completing my home service, which was volunteering at a local French Immersion school and when that finished due to the BC Teachers’ Strike, I continued as a farmhand with a family friend. Out of the two home service placements, I really loved working in the school because I got the opportunity to teach kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 classes in French and I also was immersed in an atmosphere of professionalism, where I was an acting professional. Working as a farmhand was also quite interesting, though physically demanding under the hot, hot British Columbian sun. My favourite part was collecting eggs at noon and preparing them for sale by washing, checking for deformities, and putting them in the egg cartons. 

So June flew by quite quickly. 

On July 3rd, I flew to Mainz, Germany where I was reunited with my host family from  an exchange nearly four years ago. I’m quite close with Tabea, the girl who came and stayed with me and then vice versa, so it was so lovely to see her again. The FIFA World Cup happened while here and, of course, Germany was celebrating 24/7. Although I’m not much of a football (or soccer, for North Americans) fan, it was an amazing experience and reminded me very much of how Canadians bond across the world when we fight for the Olympic Hockey Gold Medal or vie for a chance to win the Stanley Cup again! 

Then, on the 15th, I flew to NotoSicily in Italy to spend a week with my great friend Alba, who is my second year that I became quite close with. We mostly lounged around, ate pizza, gelato, pasta, and bread, and went out with friends. The climate was simply sweltering so we often didn’t leave the house until the late afternoon when the sun wasn’t as warm, which then meant that we stayed out late. I enjoyed Sicily very much but I am now glad to be back in Germany where things are much more punctual. 

Now, I am back in Mainz, Germany where I will be for another four days, relaxing and celebrating Tabea’s successful completion of Year 12 and her Zeugnis, which is like her grade 12 diploma. On the 28th of July, Tabea and I will depart on a two week backpacking trip through Prague, Krakow, the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, Budapest, and Vienna. Then after that, we will celebrate my 18th birthday and perhaps head off for a quick trip to Cologne and Amsterdam. 

Pictures to follow.

 

My Summer Plans

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The next two weeks symbolize the last two weeks of being a first year and having my second years on campus. It’s unbelievable how quickly the year has gone; it feels as if though I blinked once and everything passed by.

The weeks coming will be extremely busy. We have exams this week and next so everyone is studying. Before we know it, the campus will be empty and we’ll be back in the real world, Pearson-free for the next three months. At least, for us soon-to-be second years.

This summer I will be in Europe, visiting my German exchange partner from two years ago. I’ll be in Germany and then I’ll be off to Sicily to visit my great friend Alba! After that, Tabea (my exchange partner) and I will go backpacking in Eastern Europe. Want to know where we are off to? Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania! EasternEuropeMap

I’ll update this blog later when I’m not so caught up in studying!

The Past Few Weeks

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This blog will be an updating post of what has occurred within the Pearson community over the past while. This includes Project Week, One World, and post-One World. Enjoy!

Project Week

So a couple of weeks ago, we had our second project of the year. This time, instead of choosing to spend large quantities of money and experiencing the large, stressful city of Vancouver, I chose to stay closer to home. I decided to stay in Metchosin and live on  a sheep farm for a week. The family has been affiliated with Pearson as a host family and Project Week destination for many, many years so immediately I felt right at home. Also, it is lambing season so we got to spend much time learning about births and watching them, which was very interesting. Also, there is nothing cuter than lambs!

The fellow students on my project week were again all first years but it was a smaller group and we got along much better – there was no tension at any moment whatsoever! It was awesome. I was with my great friend Linda and BC co-year from Penticton as well as Jessica from London, England and Charles from Ghana. Our personalities all got along really well which definitely contributed positively to the week.

I remember the first day on the farm. After we had settled in and had a lovely spread of sandwiches and home-made soup, we all got a tour of the barn and a quick overview of everything. Then, John and Lorraine, our host family, got a little busy and directed us to watch after a sheep that was going to give birth soon. It definitely is a waiting game and much longer than the birth itself. From the moment the placenta starts to come out until the moment the first lamb is out has a duration of between thirty minutes and an hour and a half, depending. It was hilarious and a little shock-inducing when John and Lorraine simply told us, in the most non-chalant manner, that “to just watch if the lamb comes out with its head resting on its front hooves and when it slips out, just take the sack off of its face so it can breath”. From that moment, I knew I would love my project week since our host family seemed to be so relaxed and have so much faith in us already.

The rest of the week we stayed mostly on the farm and its properties that are spread out over Metchosin. Being a sheep farmer, or any sort of farmer, is expensive so, in fact, John and Lorraine don’t own many of their fields or even the beautiful, yellow, Victorian-style home that they’ve lived in for twenty years now. It’s all rented and loaned from other people of Metchosin and because they do so much for the people (they supply local lamb and mutton as well as good wool), there are never any complaints and withdrawals of field-loaning, etc. I learned that most of the empty fields we see in Metchosin get populated with the sheep and their babies in March and they are all John and Lorraine’s. I had the chance twice to go to the fields with the truck that distributes the sheep and lambs after they’ve spent enough time recuperating in the barn and getting used to their babies and making sure the lambs are healthy.

It’s actually quite a process to get the sheep and lambs to their new fields. After tagging the lambs and and counting them (a sheep might be number 123 and so its babies will subsequently have the same numbers), the lambs are taken and put into a smaller pen within the truck’s larger pen. It’s very loud and distressing to do this business of separating lamb from mother – the lambs bleat loudly and the sheep “baa” and run around frantically, literally knocking us humans aside all the while. Depending on the amount of sheep that gave birth, this process can take up to forty-five minutes each morning.

John and Lorraine were very lovely and did a lot for us and I must admit that I’ve developed quite a close relationship with them. Lorraine taught us Marimba, which is a wooden Zimbabwean instrument, and it was very fun. By the end of the week, the four of us had mastered two songs almost to the point of perfection.

Mid-week through our project, on Wednesday, the four of us went to the BC Legislature as Linda has a connection with Andrew Weaver, the Green Party MLA, from her last project week which was volunteering in his parliamentary office. It was really quite interesting and fun to meet Andrew and his employees. We also got an official introduction during the Question Period so now our names and countries are eternalized in the legislative minutes as well as on provincial television!

Overall, the project week was quite formidable.

From left to right: Linda (BC), Charles (Ghana), Jessica (England), and myself. This is in the cafe in Metchosin.

Me and Jessica playing with the lambs.

One World

For those of you who don’t know, One World is the huge diversity performance that Pearson College puts on every year. Despite the stress and pressure it induces upon the students, in the end the entire affair proved to be a wholly bonding experience for the community. Unfortunately, someone has taken the hard drive that had all of the One World videos so I have no videos to show anybody. However, I do have some photos! The acts I was in included the General Choir, Umoja (African Dance), Chinese Umbrella Dance, and Gumboot.

Gumboot, which is an exhausting dance.

Umbrella Dance group photo.

Umoja African Dance.

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From left to right: Elias (Finland), myself, and Sawsan (Palestine). Between acts, we were starving and Elias gave me his Starbucks drink and Sawsan her apple. You can see that I just finished gumboot.

Me and my co-year Linda. This is an apt representation of our relationship. She is wearing a traditional Hungarian costume and myself a Scottish one.

Post-One World 

After One World, things really got underway. The second years currently don’t have a lot of work as their classes end next week and by consequence don’t have a lot of homework. However, as a first year, I am very busy. I have multiple projects to do, including a Theory of Knowledge Presentation, my Extended Essay, a Math Internal Assessment, plus studying for exams in May. Since then, we have also had an artistic night called Nuit Blanche where art pieces were displayed and there was a night that included many skits, musical acts, and performances. We have also had House Olympics which my house won! We won a giant trophy made out of crispy rice squares. Sadly, though, we placed fourth out of four in the Golden Shoe, a soccer tournament between houses.

This weekend, I am going to my sheep farm host family again which I am really looking forward to. It will be a nice relaxing weekend to get homework done and I am also not very far from Pearson which is lovely.

It’s also first year season! If any potential UWCers or newly-selected students are interested in my UWC experience, I am more than willing to answer your questions.

Lots of love,

Erika

Group 4 Science Project

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Group 4, when it comes to the IB, is comprised of the sciences. At Pearson, these sciences consist of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Marine Science. I, myself, am in Marine Science entirely for personal gain as I don’t really consider myself to be a very scientific person or a person who feels inspired in any way by science and its subjects.

However, at Pearson, we recognize that every science is interconnected in some way or another and as part of the UWC mission is “to make education a force to unite peoples, nations, and cultures”, the Group 4 Science Project came into existence.

Basically, four first-year students, each from different science backgrounds, come together to brainstorm a science research question to experiment. I am in a group with Seán (Ireland), Andrea (Italy), and Morwarid (Afghanistan). We came up with a research question that includes more Physics, Marine Science, and Biology than Chemistry but that’s okay (as we’ll still be measuring salinity and temperature of the water nevertheless). Our research questions is What force is required to dislodge slow-moving, benthic organisms?

For those that are unaware, benthic is a term meaning the organism is at the bottom of the body of water, in this case the sea. The organisms that we’ll be using are a type of starfish and sea snail. Specifics will come later. However, if you’re interested, we’re required to keep track of our progress through a blog. I’ve included the link under the “Links” tab of this blog but I’ll include a link down below. (And we have lots of pictures!)

http://www.sciencetounite.wordpress.com

A lovely week

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It has been raining for four days straight here at Pearson and it is absolutely magical. Among the west-coast trees and the ferns that lushly hem the rise of boulders on the outskirts of the campus, I am entranced.

The rain has lent an even cosier atmosphere to the campus. People are cuddling even closer (if that is even possible) and slumber is deep and fulfilling, so much so that one can wake up in the morning and, despite a mild battle with sleep, no one can deny that they haven’t had a good sleep. Being in doors as opposed to out of doors is the preferable mode of living at the moment, snuggling up next to the gas fireplace, wrapped in a thousand knitted Zonta blankets.

There is also an air of accomplished contentment that seeps over thresholds and warmly envelopes the student body, inciting smiles and laughter and playful chatter. With the rain pushing us inside the library and common room and dayrooms, homework is being completed earlier rather than later, allowing for more time to socialize and for the chance to achieve higher marks. The students are so visibly on top of things, it’s fabulous.

The last week was a whirlwind of exciting events as Valentine’s Day drew nearer. On Thursday, there was a dance and a highschool band from Victoria came and played Blues and Swing music. It was tons of fun and Sawsan and I were given the Valentine’s Day passdown, meaning next year we will be in charge of decorations for the dance. On Friday, it was Valentine’s Day and despite having to still attend classes, love was definitely in the air. The day ended with Sawsan, Sophia (PC39, Manitoba), and I watching Priceless, a French movie with Audrey Tautou lent to me by my French teacher and advisor, Natasha. We watched this curled up in the newly-cleaned shower and ate many chocolates, as well.

Sawsan’s birthday was on Sunday and it was celebrated with much Arabic and many Arabs and myself. It was lovely and there was nothing to make me more happy than to spend time with my best friend on her birthday and organize surprising things for her. I believe that we all thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and despite Sawsan not initially being pleased about the fact that it was her birthday, in the end I think she was very grateful which means a lot to me as we are the closest of friends.

On a completely different subject, some quotes of note:

You cannot change people. You can only give them love and hope  that they will accept it. ~Unknown

Wherever you go, go with all of your heart. ~Confucius

And a quote by Antonio Machado:

Between living and dreaming, there is a third thing. Guess it. 

Also. A photo of the beautiful Sophia, Sawsan, and I in the shower on Valentine’s Day night.

Pearson Life Resurrected

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It has been a week and four days since we’ve all been back on campus. There was nothing gradual about the return process; we arrived Sunday and Monday we were all back to the same old, same old. Perhaps it was a little different with enthusiastic greetings upon seeing people we’d dearly missed over our three week long winter break.

Having received my Term One report on one of the first days of my winter break, I was more than prepared for the IB this term. With a better idea of what’s in mind and how to succeed, I can apply myself more efficiently in classes and potentially raise my grades in each class by (maybe?) one IB point (on the 7-point scale, 7 being the best).

There was honestly nothing more exciting than seeing your closest friends after three weeks apart. The things that you didn’t realize you missed about them and even the things you hadn’t realized had become constant, inside jokes, now were realized. I value my time with these people better this term; I am horribly conscious of the fact that our second years will not be here next year and knowing how fast the first term flew by, I’m scared for how quickly second term will go by as well. I treasure my time.

Lately I’ve been taking adventurous walks up the hill behind the Pearson campus with my second year from Alberta, Lawson. We’re good friends. We skip the paths and trails and hike up. He’s got this beautiful camera with proper film (you know, the stuff nobody thinks about anymore) and as he takes beautiful photos of peeling arbutus trees and sunlight shafted through the trees, I can stand atop mossy rocks and look between the trees, down on Pedder Bay, listening at muffled conversations that travel through the forest like fairy bells.

It’s beautiful and calming. After a tumultuous week emotionally because of the IB and a variety of other things that Pearson unfortunately possesses, going for hikes with no particular destination is appealing to the soul. Here on the island, things are lush, even in January. The soil is dark brown and tall mounds of rock overlook the forest, in layers, like a cake. There are beautiful ferns that grow like extended umbrellas from the rock. Every time we go up there, I am constantly amazed. We feel distant from everything that Pearson is, metaphorically and physically, and it’s a temporary, stunning escape.

On another note, last Friday was an event called Hands Around the World and it was hosted at the Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. It was to acknowledge fourteen murals that have been made in communities all around the world over many years. Two are on display at the United Nations in New York. Pearson College was involved in terms of choir, dances, and spoken pieces. Here’s a photo of Lawson (left), me, and Sawsan from Palestine (right). Our good friend Bilal (Iraq) took it for us. Lawson is wearing his “national costume”: a 100-year-old Hudson’s Bay blanket. Neither Sawsan and I took part in the performance, unlike Lawson who’s in choir; we were merely spectators.

Lawson (Alberta, PC39), myself, and Sawsan (Palestine, PC40). All from Japan House, funnily enough.

Lawson (Alberta, PC39), myself, and Sawsan (Palestine, PC40). All from Japan House, funnily enough.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

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Yesterday, all over the world, people knew of Nelson Mandela’s death. Having just learned about South Africa and its Apartheid history in my History class, I felt that I could mourn this moment with more understanding than before. Nelson Mandela was a great man, advocating for the same rights between people of different race. Now, it seems almost a barbaric thing, racial segregation, but to think just a little more than twenty years ago, it was the norm in certain parts of the world. (It’s sad to think it’s the norm in some people’s worlds right now.)

Not only was Nelson Mandela a man of righteousness and morality, but he, along with Queen Noor of Jordan, was one of the honorary United World College presidents. At the UWC Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland he entrusted his daughters’ education. He is a true proponent of the United World College education and all over the world, these colleges and its students are commemorating Mandela as the truly great human he was.

Last night, Nothando, from Swaziland, stood up and made an announcement at dinner asking us to stand in solidarity with her during this very sad time. There was a moment of silence where even the slightest clink of a fork on a plate was hugely disrespectful. Never have I been in the cafeteria in such silence, pregnant with the loss of Mandela, heavy with the sorrow of globe at his passing. The cafeteria notice board is appropriately decorated with “Rest in Peace” translated in the many languages that are iterated daily around campus. This is the beauty of a true UWC school, where everyone is in solidarity with one another, no matter racial, religious, and socioeconomic differences.

This morning, at Cookie Break, we had another small ceremony, however this time it was a little more formal with our school’s head philanthropist, director, and Admissions Director speaking. Benoît (Head of Philanthropy) spoke about when he met Nelson Mandela after being involved with UWC for many years already. This was at the time when Mandela and Queen Noor had been just newly inaugurated as honorary UWC presidents. Benoît told us about asking the great man, “What food should I eat from your country that I might never consume elsewhere?” Mandela’s response was an order of thirteen fried caterpillars. Out of grace, Benoît would have to eat all of them.

Mandela was a man of strength and joy, who embraced life with all that he could muster from within himself. He was a man who overcame. I am proud to have learned more in depth about him at Pearson, a home that emphasizes dignity, diversity, and acceptance. As Mandela was one of our presidents, I feel now that it is our role to carry on his legacy and young people who will grow older and, in turn, fight for what is truly right.

May Nelson Mandela rest in peace.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

On Single Stories

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Today, in my Theory of Knowledge lesson, we listened to an Oxford TED Talk by a Nigerian woman. She talked about the power of the Single Story, which is a story that ultimately fabricates the most general stereotypes of a group of people. For example, she talked about how she went to the United States for school and her American roommate was so keen on learning about her “tribal music”, so pleasantly surprised at the level of English she spoke, so taken aback when she discovered that, in fact, this Nigerian knew how to use a stove properly. From there, it was obvious that the American roommate had been told a Single Story that encompassed all of Africa: the story that Africans are poor, underdeveloped, and lacking in the adequate education of a variety of things.

Personally, I found this so interesting because, at Pearson College, a United World College, I believe that many people are unknowingly fed Single Stories either prior to attendance at the college and even during. I had a short conversation with Zeena from Colorado in class this morning and she was telling me how before she had come to Canada, she was only aware of the one “Eh!” stereotype. However, now, after having spent a few months in British Columbia, she is so much more acutely aware of Canadian stereotypes and even how some of them are quite true. Does a Single Story go hand in hand with stereotypes? If so, then are Single Stories and/or stereotypes eternally negative?

Maybe the point that the Nigerian woman was trying to bring up in her TED Talk was that Single Stories generalize too much, that they inhibit the opportunity to move forward in knowledge, whereas stereotypes can be many and can develop with the passing of time. Single Stories, like any story, are lasting, like myth and legend. Stereotypes are much more easily broken because you can change them after one interaction with one another person. Stories are passed down like inheritance through families, friends, and societies. Sometimes they are more cemented in place through media. (Example: Western media influences our view on the Arab culture.)

In an atmosphere at Pearson, people come with stereotypical baggage and an encyclopedia full of Single Stories. It is ultimately up to us to defy these or gradually change them.

On another note, my next Theory of Knowledge class is on Thursday and we’re going to do a jump in the bay at 7:15 in the morning. Insane.