CBC radio host Shelagh Rogers will visit Trent as the Jack Matthews fellow from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2. Rogers will be delivering a number of talks and presentations at Trent University, Lakefield College, and The Canoe Museum in Peterborough.

Rogers’ visit will certainly be one of the highlights of the year. It’s also important here to note what the Jack Matthews fellowship encloses in the first place.

The Trent website reads: “The Jack Matthews Fellowship is named in honour of the founding director of the Trent International Program (TIP), who also founded Pearson United World College (UWC) in British Columbia, the Canadian Canoe Museum, and was a Headmaster of Lakefield College School. Each year, a fellow is chosen who embodies the values of those institutions, and the legendary spirit of Canadian global citizenship that was Jack Matthews’ vision.”

No written account can even get close to explaining the significance of the values that Jack Matthews embodied and that are reflected within the aforementioned institutions.

Matthews was born in Peterborough and graduated from the University of Western Ontario. From 1964 to 1971, he was Headmaster at Lakefield College. In 1974, he moved to Vancouver Island and became the founding director of the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific.

Later, he moved back to Peterborough to establish the TIP.

As an alumnus of the Lester B. Pearson College, I can surely affirm that the values predicated by Jack Matthews had an extraordinary impact on my life.

He was extremely influenced by Kurt Hahn, who was an important figure in the development of the UWC. Hahn was extremely marked by his war experiences.

The UWC movement believes education to be a force that unites people, regardless of where they come from, their religion, or their ethnicity, for peace and a sustainable future. Idealism is one the pillars of its education system, and it’s based on the belief that if we know one another, it is much easier to understand each other, and therefore, avoid conflict.

Lester B. Pearson once asked during his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture in 1957, “How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other?”

Matthews once said that Pearson College was “an experiment, after all. Put 40 students from all over the world into the same residence, put four to a room from four strikingly different cultures, and see what happens.”

According to Matthews, the values of global citizenship embodied in Pearson College as well as in Trent University were pillars for the future of education. The idea that we all live on the same planet, and that borders, nationalities, and other markers of difference are socially constructs and therefore contestable, is key to his thinking.

Pearson College is a place were people from the most diverse places come together. By living together, students get to know each other and it becomes less likely that they will violently respond to arising conflicts.

In a speech on March 20, 1975, Matthews expressed that “students drawn from all over the world, are given a two-year immersion in education designed to stretch both mind and muscle and to draw closer to their neighbours in a shrinking world on the premise that although you may not love people you know well, it’s very difficult to hate them.”

TIP also embodies these values. By connecting domestic and international students, they benefit from each other’s varying perspectives.

Trent has an important and active international student community. Through regional groups and the Trent International Student Association (TISA), all students have the opportunity to learn from one another and actively participate in a truly diverse community

The Jack Matthew’s fellowship honours the lasting contributions of Matthews, and keeps the torch of global citizenship alive through the examples of extraordinary individuals that make a difference in the world.