The Island Life

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - By: Clayton Johnston

My job requires me to travel around this planet each year– both head to toe, as well as around its belly. While exhausting, I never underestimate how lucky I am to do this: to meet such amazing people in the most intriguing and exhilarating cultures. It has changed me and has made our school more diverse.

On these recruiting trips, I meet scores of people from all walks of life. It is hard to describe the depth of pride people justifiably feel for their nations; the richness and intensity of these cultures are indescribable. Suffice it to say that each smell, taste and immaculate sunrise is indelibly inscribed on my brain. As tacky as it sounds, I love this planet and its people.

Like most people, I have immense national pride; being Canadian is an important part of my being. Being from British Columbia, specifically Vancouver Island, is even more impactful; it represents something innately powerful to me. After long trips there is no better feeling than landing at Victoria International Airport. The long awaited trip ends with my last boarding pass: Destination: YYJ.

Ahh… YYJ.

In rain, snow, sun or darkness, I don’t know how many times I’ve landed here. Each time I am greeted with familiar faces and an almost sedate, über-friendly and provincial calmness. YYJ seems familial. Even folks from big cities comment on its quaintness, in that ‘Oh my, this is so parochial!’ kind of tone. They don’t entirely get it.

Unlike most airports with their stressed out patrons and disgruntled employees, with their jet fuel smells and fast food stalls, Victoria International offers a different sensation upon landing: breathe in… ocean, grass, kelp and salt. Home.

Then there is the journey from the airport to Brentwood. Initially, one is ‘put out’ by the 50-minute drive ahead. Inward mumbles of ‘I just want to get home’… blah, blah, blah.But, to be clear, it is not the 401 through Toronto nor is it anywhere near the frenetic causeways surrounding LAX or LaGuardia. No matter how impatient is the journey to get home, calmness soon returns as one gazes out at the beauty that flies by the window.

The Malahat mountain pass. The trees and their foliage. The stunning vistas.

It can overtake one’s senses and there is nothing left to do but to sit back and reflect on the sheer beauty of it all.

Then here is home: the unfettered, fresh-aired-joy of driving down Mt. Baker Road toBrentwood College School with the ocean and Mt. Baker as its backdrop! There is no school setting like it.

We lack for nothing at Brentwood and appreciate each day on this campus. We have no smog, no traffic congestion or political strife, no threat of imprisonment or violent coup. People treat each other kindly here; nobody cowers nor averts her eyes because of veiled threats. There is no bullying, nor poisonous stares or accusatory glances. There is no religious intolerance and narrow-minded judgment. Doors are rarely locked and the windows need no screens. At Brentwood, like our airport and our town of Mill Bay, one is simply and warmly ‘welcomed’ with a genuine smile and a wave.

Welcome to Brentwood. Welcome home.

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