BC students (PC years 35 and 36) at RaceRocks, taken by Mark Kelsey. Spring 2010.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pieces of Reflection

Dearest Readers,

Embarking on this IB exam time (my first one is this Friday!) I will try and update this blog but I will probably be unable to do so very regularly.  So in typical Canadian fashion, I apologize in advance. But hopefully I'll be able to put some thoughts up sporadically about my last month at this beautiful place, on the shores of Pedder Bay.

Speaking of my last month I wrote a reflection today, we're big on reflections at Pearson.  Unfortunately it's pretty late here and my reflection is riddled with huge grammatical mistakes, so please excuse me.  Hopefully it's still comprehendable.  Anywho, here are some snippets of it:


"The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is done,
we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change.

So that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger,
but in wisdom, understanding and love."

-Jennifer Edwards

I realized today I have exactly 30 days left of being a Pearson student. While this idea terrifies me and has a habit of reaching in and turning my heart inside out, I also realized today that I could not have asked for a more fulfilling, rewarding, and phenomenal experience. My last term at Pearson has continued to teach me about myself, others, the world and what is important. Looking back, this past year has been like strenuously running up a mountain - and only now have I stopped, looked over the cliff, and stood in awe of the view. While I will sorely miss this place I call home and the people who have become my family, I can’t help but overflow with gratitude for the richness of my time at Pearson College. While it has not been easy, the hills and rocky slopes have made the journey worthwhile.

I took a walk with a friend today and found it difficult to describe how this term has been for me. In the midst of it, being swept up in the adventures of everyday (extraordinary) life, it was hard to comprehend all that had happened. I have generally felt very content this term, happier than I have ever been at Pearson. That’s partially because my life has mostly been in balance – being able to reconcile school, activities, other commitments, socializing, and staying healthy. And also because I have been supported by a network of people with whom I connect with on a deep level. Finally I think I have been happier because (with a lot of mindfulness and practice) I have somewhat loosened the chains of expectation and self-judgment, by flowing with  how things are instead of being stuck in resistance. These are ongoing lessons and habits that I am infinitely grateful to Pearson for helping to instill within me.

I have stayed actively engaged in college life in several ways this last term. At the beginning of the term, being part of the theatre production “The Laramie Project” was a very positive experience. Despite countless hours of rehearsal, it was an honour to be part of such a talented cast and crew. The final outcome was something I was proud to be part of, and something that raised important questions in our community of tolerance, understanding, and sexuality.

 I feel this year, all the efforts to create a more supportive and healthy  environment have paid off. As a peer counselor, I was glad to be equipped with some (hopefully) helpful listening tools and strategies to help others find solutions for themselves. On several occasions, in informal situations, people have approached me with a concern in their life, and I have tried to be entirely present for them.

On a personal level, the decision to join the climb and boulder activity enriched my time here immensely. Firstly, climbing was a big challenge and something outside my comfort zone. I quickly found in it a great opportunity to gain new skills (like belaying) as well as exercise, have a lot of fun and push my limits. I enjoyed getting to know the group I climbed with, and had the chance to be in the outdoors.

One World was an incredible experience  once again, and I learned a lot helping with the spoken word/links, doing make up, and being part of choir, The Figgy, and Waka Waka. I loved babysitting M this past term and have appreciated her refreshing and enlightening attitude to life. I’m also very grateful for the yoga activity as it was a very stabilizing and rejuvenating force in my life.

Some of my most memorable experiences looking back, were bonding with my room and talking late at night, dancing in the common room, climbing trees with friends, napping and chatting on the lawn in the sunshine, and walking in the forest. I realize that most of these are not the most pivotal events of the year, instead wonderful occurrences unique to Pearson in a more human, day-to-day way. The opportunity to talk with students from areas of conflict over breakfast and jump in the bay with them afterwards – these experiences have shaped me, have opened my eyes and helped me grow. I think I am a lot more patient and open now than when I came. I consider more points of view when forming an opinion or judgment. I’m convinced now that what I know is not the truth, it is just a truth.

This term has been incredible, but not without its own challenges. One of my main difficulties was coming to terms with ‘the end.’ I found that Pearson had become such a massive part of my life; it was hard to imagine returning home. Talking this over with friends and trusted adults has helped greatly, as well as understanding that it’s not ‘the end’ but in fact a wonderful and exciting beginning. Another difficulty was finding enough time to dedicate to my academics. Considering my limited time here, I wanted to make sure that I took the time to connect with my peers and with nature. Since I spent more time going for walks and talking with friends, I had less time to devote to the IB and thus I am cognizant my academic performance has probably not been up to par this term. However, I have endeavored to do as much schoolwork as I can, but often have not managed to complete everything. I also wish I had the chance to do more outdoor expedition since throughout my two years I did not do any waterfront activities or wilderness or action project weeks. I do plan on learning how to sail before I leave and spending the most amount of time outside as I can.

Overall I feel so different to that excitable and eager first year I was, 20 months ago. I still see parts of myself in her, but I feel more grounded now. I have made my fair share of mistakes during the last two years and I have worried more people than I wanted to, but in the end I think (and hope) it has all been important and valuable. As Jennifer Edwards says, “we cannot undo what is done.” I think even if I could, I wouldn’t undo any of my time at Pearson.

 Carrying on into the future, going to university and travelling this summer, I know that Pearson has given me many gifts and presented many lessons that I will continue to reflect on. I feel more responsible for my own life, for our shared planet, and for serving other people. I think I can find humanity and compassion more easily in difficult situations. I have realized the importance of communicating and having those challenging conversations with people we live with. I have experienced joy and sorrow so deeply here.

So as I glance back on the rocky, steep, yet utterly breathtaking journey of my last term and my last two years, I acknowledge I have come a long way. But I could not have done it if it were not for the countless warm, strong, and comforting hands of this Pearson community, helping me over the slippery/muddy/scary parts. Words will never convey how indebted I feel to the people who make up this community and this organization – and the kindness, understanding, intelligence, generosity and creativity they have all offered. I know I still have many more mountains and hills ahead of me, but this experience has filled me with enough inspiration, hope, and love to carry on resiliently, wherever the path may lead.


                                         photo by larissa sayer http://www.flickr.com/photos/riss/5119321467/

Monday, April 18, 2011

Still here...still here.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
 ~Meister Eckhart

** Warning! Extremely cheesy post below.

It has been a while since I updated, and I really don't have any explanation besides being utterly consumed by the last few weeks of my Pearson experience.  As of today, April 18, I have a mere 5 weeks left here.  Even just writing that, my breath catches in my throat and a sense of dread/excitement/fear/overwhelm/panic/relief/envy and just about any other emotion humanly possible starts to rise up.  So many amazing, tiring, wonderful, sad things have happened recently I just don't know where to begin. I've been feeling really grateful lately so maybe that's how I'll structure this post...


1) Thank you for my friends and family.   It was my 19th birthday a week ago, and it was very possibly the best birthday I have ever had.  I am still very touched by all the loving and enormously kind things that people organized/did. I am so grateful to have so many inspiring, intelligent, incredible people in my life (including all those friends that take the time to read this blog).  Thank you thank you thank you thank you. You have no idea how much you mean to me.

2)  Thank you for Pearson. Today my marine science class hopped on our boat Second Nature for our final field trip to RaceRocks (the ecological reserve we often visit and study at).  It was so bittersweet, sitting there on the rocks with Laura and the class, watching the sparkling ocean and the mountains in the background.  A surreal Pearson moment.  Life here has been full of such unique and amazing experiences...I can't believe I have been lucky enough to learn like this.

3) Thank you for Nuit Blanche.  Pearson's second annual art festival of the night happened on Saturday and it was amazing.  From fire poi to laser shows, to soca raves, to cake baking, to a heart warming campfire, it was a spectacular night. Kudos to all the organizers.

4) Thank you for Pangea. Every year one floor on campus organizes a regional day/non-talent show called Pangea Day and it results in a confused, random, yet totally fun dinner/show/party....the Calgary Boys did an excellent job this year, and it was wonderful. 

5) Thank you for school.  Although I never thought I would say that, finishing my IB theatre course after a VERY challenging practical performance proposal,  I have renewed respect for the education I have been blessed to receive here.  I have started to realize how much I have learned in the last two years...

6) Thank you for this community.  Waking up every morning here, knowing the people and adventures that await, is a constant joy.

7) Thank you to McL.  We had the Golden Shoe Soccer Tournament yesterday and despite not being particularly talented at soccer, we had a blast.  I realized again how much I love our house. I love how crazy and spirited we can be, I love our strange eclectic mix, I love how much love we have for each other, I love our t-shirts, I love how we get along...

8) Thank you for sunshine. At last, the clouds have parted somewhat and the spring sun has started to show.  It has been absolutely glorious and uplifting being outside the last few days.

9) Thank you for the chance to see Elizabeth Gilbert.  I absolutely loved Eat Pray Love the book, and I had the magnificent gift from my mother of tickets to see her live in Vancouver a while back.  I also had the chance to ask her a question (I asked her what advice she would have given her 19 year old self). 

10) Thank you for the challenges.  Life at Pearson has its high highs, it also has its low lows.  I've realized that being here has taught me how to have some difficult conversations.  I've learned a little about how humans can be so very complex and simple at the same time.  I've learned about myself.  I'm thankful now for obstacles I have faced and will continue to face, because they always have a golden lesson encapsulated within.  Thank you.


As John F. Kennedy said,  "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."  So as I embark on my last 3 days of classes and the coming weeks of IB exams, I will try to live by my words (and JFKs).

Speaking of beautiful quotes, my lovely housefellow and yoga teacher often recites this lovely prayer at the end of each yoga class, and I think it's a nice place to end for today's post:

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

May all beings never be separated from the supreme joy which is beyond all suffering.
May all beings abide in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.

~Traditional Buddhist Prayer - Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek

Wishing you a wonderful week.