Alumni in the Spotlight – Elysia Glover

The United World Challenge is raising money for scholarships to attend UWCs. Attending a UWC can change the course of a life. We’re presenting a series; Alumni in the Spotlight – to show the transformative effect a globally focused education can have.

Elysia Glover

UWCSEA 2004-2006

What made you want to go to UWC in the first place?

I grew up in a home where public radio was always on and books were everywhere and I really loved learning. In high school my mom told me I should check out Pearson College as friends of ours were also applying and I remember sitting in our computer lab at school looking through the websites of IB schools around the world and thinking “I could do that”. I didn’t have a passport but it just seemed like the right thing to do for me.

Was there anything that you got out of your experience at UWC that you didn’t expect to?

I did not expect to confront myself, my anger, my strength and my beauty, to the extent that I did. My time in the UWC community held a powerful mirror up to all of that and I am grateful for it.

How do you think your life would be different if you didn’t go to UWC?

I grew up in a working class family who experienced housing insecurity and other challenges. UWC opened up a literal world of opportunity I would not have had otherwise. From completing an IB diploma, to training as an ESL teacher, to developing community legal education in Cambodia, to accessing a funded opportunity to attend college in the US, every major development in my work and learning life since attending UWCSEA can be traced back to that initial chance to attend a UWC.

More generally, had I not gone to UWC, I would not have so quickly developed the global perspective that informs my approach now, nor have been pushed to ground that perspective in efforts that have local impact in the way UWC pushed us to do.

What’s your job/vocation/career?

I am currently the Executive Director of Community Micro Lending, a non-profit society offering financial literacy and business training to communities facing barriers to economic independence. I just ran (and won) a municipal election campaign in B.C, Canada. I also produce a youth spoken word festival and coordinate a poets in schools program. Before this I was the Executive Director to the leader of the Green Party of Canada.

What advice would you give to your pre-UWC self?

You have no idea what you’re getting into, you will be your biggest challenge, but this will be the best thing you ever said yes to.

What does the UWC Challenge mean to you?

Its Terrence’s way of using the skills, capacity and courage he has to raise awareness of, and funds for, a life changing opportunity. (Just don’t die, Tez.)

Elysia doing what she does best – facilitating community workshops, with a smile on her dial

Inside the Endurance Athlete’s Mind

Ever wonder how endurance athletes just keep going? Curious what techniques we use to stay focused, positive, and making progress?

Spoiler: the secret sauce isn’t muscle or fitness. In fact, the longer the challenge, the more important are your attitude, emotional awareness, and mental resilience.

I’ve been invited to give a TED-style talk this coming week on how I’ve learned to cultivate these skills over ten years as an endurance athlete.

Titled Moving through Pain: Mental Techniques to Excel in Sport and Life, the talk introduces three techniques I’m using to prepare for the UWC Challenge – techniques you can use to achieve your own goals, too.

Stay tuned for the recording! In the meantime, you can get a preview from the storyboard.



What you see below: Rather than memorize the talk, I sketched images of each building block. I use the note cards to recall each image, see its place in the story arc, and then speak naturally and improvise about that moment. Public speaking trick!

Full storyboard (reads left-to-right starting at the top row)
The Power to Choose (featured in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
Mantras (every warrior runs with a slogan)
Did you know, more people have been to space than rowed the Atlantic?
The miles ticked along… 110, 120, 130

Nothing can prepare you to row an ocean – but…

But you STILL have to prepare!

And preparation takes time. That’s why with 417 days before the start of the 2019 Atlantic Challenge, today I began training with the elite rowing coach, Lauren Rubini of CrossFit Roots.

In our first hour, Lauren corrected two movements in my stroke. This feedback is critical to become as efficient as possible, since during the race, I’ll row 2 marathons a day for 2 months.

I’ll work with Lauren each Saturday to improve my technique and will also participate in CrossFit Roots’ annual 100km Erg Challenge from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day.

This week is a landmark for second reason: It’s exactly two years since I attended the Ocean Film Festival in London, where Sarah Outen and Justine Curgenven’s film “Kayaking the Aleutians” inspired me to imagine myself rowing an ocean.

Sarah made a small, passing comment that seized my attention. She explained that the rowboat she used on the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would self-right if capsized, but kayaks do not. I think she meant to imply that kayaking the Aleutians was insanely difficult – but with some optimistic zeal, I interpreted her statement to mean that ocean rowing is something a novice can learn to do. Turns out, I was right.

That’s the magical paradox of ocean rowing: nothing can prepare you for the challenge – it’s too unique – which means there’s nothing holding you back but yourself.

Fast forward two years, and here we are: growing the United World Challenge. Learning to prepare for an experience that’s almost impossible to comprehend before doing it. Preparing as best I can, one day at a time.

Trailer of the film that inspired the United World Challenge

Opening Entry for UWC Day

Ahoy, and welcome to the Opening Entry in the Captain’s Log.

Why start today? Because it’s UWC Day, the International Day of Peace – a day to inspire action.

That’s why I organized a trash cleanup in Denver, and together with fellow UWC alumni from Oman and Canada picked up rubbish from the banks of the Platte River. Part of the UWC Day of Service, this small gesture sits within a larger global movement of people taking action.

You don’t have to row an ocean or raise a scholarship to improve the world. What action would you take in your own community?

Expect more posts in the coming weeks sharing “behind the scenes” views of the UWC Challenge. Until then, feel free to say sign the Captain’s Log below.

Wishing you smooth seas,