Seven Summits Centre for Learning student Hannah Klemmensen, 17, will attend the United World College International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina starting next September for grades 12 and 13.
How does a girl from Rossland end up going to school in Bosnia? Hannah explains: “I think I’m someone who’s always been active in the community, and going to Seven Summits really helped because it meant being able to volunteer was so much easier, with having a flexible learning centre”. It allowed her to explore things outside of school and enabled her to do the things she wanted to do in the community.
Going on the Rotary exchange to Brazil last year led her to realize “that internationalism and building peace was really what I was interested in and that it was also something I was capable of doing.” Hannah felt the Rotary Exchange helped the World College see her as a worthy candidate. “The whole movement of the schools is on peace and sustainability and bringing together people who want to bring about change. So it’s a really crazy cool opportunity for me to start doing the things I want to do – and being involved in international relations and working in refugee camps.” It’s also an academic program that is equally focused on volunteerism and community activism. Hannah adds: “I’m still in shock that I got in”.
The United World College motto is: Education like no other â€• We inspire our students to create a more peaceful and sustainable future through education. There are 17 schools world- wide, and although it changes from year to year and is based on funding, normally about 40 Canadians attend. About 50% of the kids they select from Canada go to Lester Pearson College on the south end of Vancouver Island. The school in Bosnia really appealed to Hannah because it’s an open campus and the goal of the school is to be a force for peace in this post-conflict society. They try to include the community in everything they do and use it as a real-life opportunity for the students to be involved.
Active in Rossland’s Interact Club, Hannah also got involved with the Rossland Youth Service (RYS) group, and BC Youth Parliament, which is a non-partisan service group. As if that wasn’t enough, she is also the youth opposition leader for the Kootenay Parliament (a branch of youth parliament), works 15 hours a week at the Rossland Museum, takes piano lessons, and makes beautiful jewelry which she has sold at the Rossland Mountain Market.
Hannah’s advice if you are interested in the World College movement: “Definitely go for it! The United World College Movement may seem unattainable but it’s not. It’s really good about keeping financial stuff and acceptance apart; it’s not about what you can afford.”
What about her parents? Hannah admits it can’t be easy letting your teenage daughter leave home, but “I hope they understand that it’s a pretty big opportunity and if I wasn’t doing this I’d be backpacking around Colombia or something. I love them and I love living with them (but) this isn’t like an exchange where I’m going to be coming home after the year.”
Her mother Elaine adds, “We think it’s awesome. We are thrilled about Hannah’s acceptance as she is very dedicated and engaged. She works very hard at anything she pursues. We know it will be a life-changing experience for her. As parents, our goal was always to prepare our kids for the world, to be able to take care of themselves, to be engaged and able to contribute to society and find their happiness. We can’t hold them back because of our own desire to keep them close and as Hannah says, we will always be close, always be there for each other and be a family regardless of where we are in the world.“
From Hannah’s perspective, “I’m very thankful to my parents for taking us (she and her brother James) travelling as it opened my eyes to the fact that there are other priorities in the world than owning a big house and a big car.” Hannah is also very thankful for growing up in Rossland. “With all the support of City Council and CBT (Columbia Basin Trust) and Rotary, there are so many people wanting young people to do great things here.”
And where does Hannah see herself in 10 years? “Maybe with a degree in International Relations – a dream job would be working for the UN, but I also want to find time to travel and continue to learn different languages.”