For six students at Britannia Secondary, one of Vancouver's three inner city secondary schools, their trip this summer to Vancouver Island's Pearson College was a game changer. Mitchell Wong, Cara Mayer, Kate Zhou, Julie Wu, Christina Chan and Linda Sau were among eighty students, some of whom hailed from as far away as Dubai and Japan, to attend the internationally recognized summer camp.
Almost all of the students from Britannia received a golden ticket (a full ride bursary of $3,000 each), which would cover travel, room, board and tuition. On July 24, the students boarded a Harbor Air float plane for the quick hop over to the island. For several of them, it would be the first time they'd ever flown on a plane.
Located south east of Victoria, the campus is situated on the rugged coast of the Pacific. According to the Grade 12 students it was a majestic setting. Surrounded by Arbutus, Douglas, Fir and Gary Oak trees, the Pearson College students received frequent "classroom visits" from deer, sea otters and other critters.
During the three week course, Britannia's students had the experience of a lifetime. They learned about the causes of economic in-equality in the world. They did activities around public policy issues like global warming and social justice. Later the teens learned about community building and worked to identify and understand the external negative pressures and stereotypes of their day-to-day lives by reflecting on lessons each day for a half hour.
Slowly but surely, the Pearson College students began to form intense bonds and connect with their new friends from around the world. When the camp came to an end, there were many tears. All six students agree that it was an emotional, but incredibly instructive time - one that wouldn't be forgotten when they returned home to Vancouver.
Their school and the local Grandview community has already reaped some of the benefits from the trip. One student was elected to sit on the Britannia Community Board and believes the Pearson experience will help with her work on the board. Other Pearson Seminar veterans have actively organized a Peace Day event (complete with Tibetan-style prayer flags) and Britannia Secondary's Back to School BBQ and Fundraiser. All six students have been active in their classrooms presenting what they learned to their colleagues.