By: Sheila Reynolds
It may look a little like Hogwarts, but Katherine Carey won’t likely meet any budding Harry Potters or learn to cast magical spells where she’s going.
Carey, 17, is heading to Wales this fall to continue her education at Atlantic College, one of 12 United World Colleges (UWC) around the globe.
Each year, just seven B.C. students are selected to attend UWC campuses, funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education. Carey, who just completed Grade 11 at Seaquam Secondary, submitted her application in February and was one of 25 chosen for an interview in Victoria in April. She found out about her acceptance the following month.
Her mom received the call at home and rushed to the coffee shop where Katherine was working to tell her the good news.
“She came into my work and she was crying. I was a little worried because I thought maybe I didn’t get in,” laughed Katherine, adding the whole experience remains a bit surreal. “It didn’t hit me – it still really hasn’t sunk in that I’m going away.”
The college is situated on a 60-acre campus in the countryside of the Vale of Glamorgan. At the centre of the school is the restored St. Donat’s Castle. The locale was Carey’s first pick of campuses, topping schools in Hong Kong, Victoria and Italy.
“The campus looks absolutely beautiful,” she said, noting she’s always had an interest in British history and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to travel abroad.
The castle, the oldest part of which dates back to the 12th century, was once owned by William Randolph Hearst. The millionaire American publisher spent a fortune renovating the castle, where he entertained many influential guests, including Charlie Chaplin, John F. Kennedy and George Bernard Shaw. Upon visiting St. Donat’s, Shaw was quoted as saying “This is what God would have built if he had the money.”
Carey doesn’t fly overseas until September, but has already connected with some of her future classmates via the social networking website Facebook.
“All the second years (students) are saying ‘you can’t understand what it’s like until you’re here.’ “
Two other Canadian teens – one from Alberta and another from Quebec – will also be starting at Atlantic this fall. Students attending UWC campuses are chosen from 75 countries. The international colleges foster strong academics, community service and international understanding. Carey said it’s the latter that appeals to her most.
“I’m just hoping to gain a better understanding of cultural differences and how a lot of the problems of the world have come about and come up with some possible solutions,” she said. “I’m not going to solve the world’s problems single-handedly, but I hope to get a greater understanding of other cultures so I can better understand my own.”
Carey plans to do some humanitarian work, perhaps in South Africa where she was born, following her two year stint at Atlantic College. She leaves for Wales Sept. 8.