Jack Matthews: preserver and integrator of cultures in Peterborough

Laying the foundation of the Trent International Program (TIP), Jack Matthews planted the seeds of internationalization, which allowed diversity at Trent to prosper.

By doing so, the image of our university shifted and many students were benefitted by effect. Today, hundreds of international students are provided with a Canadian experience at Trent; thousands of domestic students exchange their knowledge in return. Socially, linguistically, culturally: we grow together.

Now this may seem all fine and dandy, honey-flavoured and sugar coated at the surface.

Forgive me if these remarks tend to romanticize diversity at Trent. Indeed, we are caught and yanked by different dilemmas, confronted with different challenges. Matthews recognized that among many challenges commonly faced by international – and domestic – students, is integration.

Orientation can make or break one’s initial transition to university. Language and cultural barriers pose additional challenges, especially for international students. Matthews served as Headmaster of Lakefield College School, an institution that is notoriously known for its immersion program.

From personal experience, I can confirm the effects. In November I visited Lakefield College School on behalf of the World University Service of Canada. It was apparent that for many students this was a prelude to post-secondary education. Matthews is endued gratitude for easing the process, which many international students experience.

Finally we move on to the creation of the Canadian Canoe Museum.

We all acknowledge Matthews’ contributions to the founding of the venue. Moreover, we should commend these efforts to showcase Canadianism. It is a beautiful thing that while cherishing other cultures, Matthews never forgot his own. Perhaps many Canadians can take a lesson here.

Dalal Al-Waheidi was selected to deliver the Jack Matthews Fellowship Lecture on Jan. 27. Known for her work with Free the Children, Al-Waheidi admits that she is irritated by the term ‘future leaders’ because change begins today.

I believe that change is not a hand on the clock; rather, it is a foot on the ground. Our next step forward leads us into the future. The 2016 Fellow adds another branch to the Jack Matthews tree. Pride can be drawn for the local-changes-made-global; however we should take note from these honourees in progressing forward.

Special thanks to SAAT, SAID, TISA and TCSA for this collaborative event, in addition to Trent University, Lakefield College School and Canadian Canoe Museum for continuing this tradition.

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