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Come To Your Senses – Getting out of the office and spending time with students

Marie Vivas is the IB Americas University Relations Manager. She has overall responsibility for university recognition in the Americas region, working closely with admissions professionals counseling university bound students.

By Marie Vivas

Come To Your SensesOne thing I can safely say about the IB staff is that we all enjoy interacting with students. I don’t frequently have that pleasure since my work is mostly supporting schools and universities. However, during the last weekend in April I was invited to take part in the sixth annual IB Atlantic Coast Conference. It was the highlight of my month!

Over 250 students from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island came together for two days to explore university options and share stories and information about their experiences as IB students. They also invited younger students to learn more about the IB and to encourage them to take on the Diploma Programme.

The conference was organized by IB Diploma students from Parkview Education Centre in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and they chose the theme “The Power of Perception”.  They organized the schedule, invited a host of regional universities, found sponsors, and recruited a number of engaging speakers including a Canadian Olympian, a former member of the French Resistance, two local mayors, and two provincial ministers. I was honored to be one of the speakers with this extremely accomplished group.

But even though the speakers were great and the university reps were enthusiastic and informative, the students were the real rock stars. Their energy, passion, generosity and vision set the tone for the rest of us. When M. Pierre Allain, an 86 year old French Resistance fighter finished regaling us with stories, in French, of his time ferrying refugees across the Loire, he complimented students for asking great questions.  He encouraged them to never stop learning, and he was especially enthusiastic about the fact that every young person in that room spoke at least two languages. Oh, yes, did I forget to mention that the conference was run in French and English?

I want to give a special shout out to the university reps who rolled up their sleeves and fired up the students during the opening evening’s University Games. A sort of color Olympics/university application workshop/trivia bowl event had students and admissions officers running around the Parkview Education Centre Campus, making up cheers and collecting knowledge points. The high energy carried over into the next morning with students cheering their university speakers as the workshops began. By the end of the event, the camaraderie between the students and the university admissions officers was palpable.

This is the extraordinary fact about IB students in general, and about the students at the ACC in particular: they genuinely embrace the IB learner profile and inspire us to do our daily work. Whether we are IB staff, IB school counselors or admissions recruiters, we are invigorated when we spend time with these remarkable young people. It is easy to see that the future is in good hands as they become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

Before I sign off I would like to thank David Cook and Charlotte Brooks, the adults who lend their support and encouragement year after year, and the universities who generously sponsored the event and gave their time and considerable energy:

Acadia University
Cape Breton University
Crandall University
Dalhousie University
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Mount Allison University
Mount Saint Vincent University
Saint Mary’s University
St. Francis Xavier University
St. Thomas University
Université de Moncton
Université Sainte-Anne
University of King’s College, Halifax
University of New Brunswick
University of Prince Edward Island

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