Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pearson Part 2

I'm back from my trip to Vancouver Island and my visit with some of the students of Pearson College. If you really want a glimpse into what I experienced and saw at Pearson, you should take time to experience the following video.

This does some justice to how I feel about my short (too short) time at the college. On the plane home yesterday, I was reading the Times Colonist and came across the following from an Obituary:

There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept; truths we don't want to know about but have to learn; people we can't live without but have to let go... You may not think the world needed you, but it did. For you were unique: like no one that has ever been before or will come after. No one can speak with your voice; say your piece; smile your smile; or shine your light. No one can take your place for it was yours alone to fill. Because you are not here to shine your light, who knows how many travelers will lose their way as they try to pass by your empty place in the darkness... There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.."

This Obituary was for David Allen Llyod McKenzie, born December 20, 1988, died March 30, 2004. When I read this Obituary on the plane, looking at the picture of a beautiful, smiling boy, and thinking about how unique each of the youth at Pearson are, I couldn't help but cry.

I am reminded of the scene in the movie "The Constant Gardener" where Justin Quayle (played by Ralph Fiennes) is in a village with some aid workers and then a militia attacks, razing the village and killing anyone they can. Chaos is everywhere and Justin and the aid workers race to a taxiing cargo plane to escape. A small child is running towards the plane and Justin is desperate to get the child. The aid workers and some part of his own self prevent him from grabbing the child and the scene ends with the child vainly running alongside the plane.

Pearson's 200 scholarships represent a ride on that plane for many of the recipients. Without a doubt, for all of the students, it represents a gift that carries the burden of "to whom much is given, much is to be expected."

My talk was much shorter than usual (about 45 minutes) and much more focused on the actual GiveMeaning site and how the students could use it. After the talk, I spent some more time with my host and a colleague of his and then walked towards the area where by taxi would come. As I waited, a class had just gotten out and streamed past me. It was an incredibly emotional moment for me because here was this amazing student body in all of its diversity walking together, laughing and chatting with one another.

The Obituary made me desperate to go back, to show them this boy who had been taken way too early, and to plead with them not to wait, and never to waste this gift. Never before have I been exposed to so much potential. What they do with it is their decision.

But you watch the video I have linked to in this post, and you realize that many of them have already started. That there, words are not merely words but a transference of experiences, cultures and attitudes. Never before have I been so jealous of my brother Hugh (a teacher at a school in Victoria).

I have a great respect and gratitude for my hosts and the staff and students at Pearson College. To make a donation in support of their operations, please click here

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