Eva Cowley was planning to return to Maple Ridge from a Rotary youth exchange trip and finish her final year of high school.
Instead, the 18-year-old Maple Ridge secondary student found herself accepted into a prestigious program at United World Colleges – a global education movement that strives to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
The central belief of the institution is that education can bring together young people from all backgrounds on the basis of their shared humanity to engage with the possibility of social change through courageous action, personal example and selfless leadership.
The UWC has 17 schools and colleges in 17 countries on four continents. Around 9,500 students attend each year.
Cowley was accepted to UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands. It was founded in 2009 and has 915 students and boasts an integrated, multicultural school for students of different educational and socio-economic backgrounds and operates within the Dutch public educational system, subsidized by the government.
Cowley was accepted on almost a full-scholarship for the two-year program and will be doing the equivalent of Grade 12 and Grade 13 there. She is one of only four Canadians at the school.
“There are very few people selected throughout the country to go to these,” explained her father, Christian Cowley, who heads up the CEED Centre in Maple Ridge.
“You have to demonstrate not only scholastic ability, but a lot of social awareness and participation and you’re considered to represent your country, so you are always an ambassador to Canada while you are at the school,” he said.
She is taking courses in design and technology, film, Spanish and English, among others.
Eva Cowley applied to the program after learning about it from a senior at the CEED Centre whose own daughter went through the program.
“The graduates from the United World Colleges you will find them in many of the embassies, you’ll find them in many international positions, the UN, in our consulates and embassies across the world, you’ll find them in Ottawa,” said her father.
Cowley is already fluent in French, and just spent 11 months in Taipei learning Chinese through Rotary. She also knows a “smattering” of Japanese from attending school locally and will be learning Spanish.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and we’re incredibly delighted that she is able to take advantage of it,” said her dad.