A Penticton teen will be off on an educational adventure of a lifetime in the new year.
Harper Doull, 17, has been accepted into the prestigious United World College (UWC) two-year, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
She is the only Canadian student assigned to Waterford Kamhlabla UWC in Mbabane, Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).
Eswatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa, tucked between South Africa and Mozambique. It will be a 30-hour trip.
Unknown to Harper at the time she applied was that her application to Pearson College in Victoria on Vancouver Island went to all 18 educational facilities around the world that offer the program.
“It was just surreal,” she said about getting the phone call about her acceptance and in particular, where she was going. “It really just didn’t feel real and it still doesn’t and it probably won’t hit me until I get there.
“It really is a huge achievement, it was a lot of work.”
The goal of the program is to challenge students and take them out of their comfort zone and have them become lifelong learners.
The UWC operates schools on four continents and graduates of the program are almost guaranteed a scholarship to universities in North American and Europe.
The entire UWC organization has also been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace prize.
Harper grew up in Penticton and went to Naramata Elementary School, KVR Middle School and Penticton Secondary and spent her final school year at UNISUS school in Summerland.
The criteria for being chosen includes not only academic skills, but a willingness to go out into the community to help others, a commitment to physical fitness and Harper fits the bill.
She’s a former volunteer at Critteraid, is a certified wilderness first responder and loves working out at the gym and going for runs. She’s also employed part-time at the Just Baked coffee shop in Naramata.
What is she looking forward to the most?
“Meeting new people for sure,” said Harper, who is still considering her options for life after school. “This kind of travelling and learning about new places is going to be incredible.
“I didn’t expect to get in (to the program) just because there are so many amazing kids who also applied.”
Harper is not nervous about going so far away from home, but will definitely miss her family and friends.
“It’s inevitable that I’d being going away, it was going to happen and this is going to be so cool and travelling to other places is an education in itself.”
The school semester in the city she is going to runs from mid-January to mid-November.