John Grant '79

Written by Tatiana '22
At age six, he watched as his oldest sister boarded an ocean-liner to the UK to begin her year in Switzerland. Two other sisters followed by plane when he was eleven, and fifteen years old. Then, in September of 1978, Mr. John Grant of Toronto, began an NJC adventure of his own. Mr. Grant was part of the 23rd group of pupils to walk through the doors of our beloved Foyer. Thanks to his aforementioned sister's years and the various visits he made to them, he knew what he would be offered that year and what he wanted out of the experience. More than that, though, he knew he only had one year. It's a bittersweet note the school bears, but one that only makes NJC all the more special.
In an interview with Mr. Grant, he spoke fondly of the people and places he got to know during his year. Visions of visits to Morocco and Spain with people from across Canada painted a smile on his face. These experiences abroad helped him to foster a “sense of fearlessness”. After graduating from Year 13 at NJC, Mr. Grant obtained his degree in Commerce and Economics at the University of Toronto, before travelling to England. There, he studied at the London School of Economics and got his Masters degree in Accounting and Finance. While at NJC, he learned that travelling is something you just have to embrace: worry about the logistics later and really appreciate the opportunity.

 Every year, groups of teenagers across the world ponder the questions that kept the philosophers awake at night. . “What am I here for?”, ''What can I do for my world?”, “Who am I?”. Everyone comes up with different answers, and some have no answers at all. Mr. Grant wondered this, and came up with two ideas. First, we are here to be a better people than the day before. We work for these opportunities and are privileged enough to be given top-notch teaching and cultural experiences. From incredibly intelligent staff to the pensions that open their homes to the students each year, to the once-in-a-lifetime trips that are organized each year, we must make the most of our opportunity. This school is a rare experience, we must make the most of it and learn how to be a good person 

Second, time is of the essence. This is what Mr. Grant, and every student who walks out of the foyer for the last time in June, learns over those ten months. “There is only one September, only one October,” said Mr. Grant. In many ways, knowing you only have ten months is what makes our time here special. You learn to never say no, take every opportunity handed to you, and never stop learning.

I was reflecting upon the questions I wrote out in preparation for my interview. It occurred to me, in a rather melancholic fit of nostalgia, that my year will soon be as over as those who graduated decades ago. I found myself relating to much of what Mr. Grant said. How nice it was to feel like an adult, having drinks and grown-up conversations with interesting people. How valuable it was to explore cultures you never would've thought you'd see. How important it is to learn to develop new relationships with people. When I began my interview with Mr. Grant, I expected to hear about the differences between our experiences, the changes the school had gone through. On the contrary: upon conversing with him, I found more similarities between us and our years here, even 42 years apart. That is what is so special about this school. Years can go by and still, what this school is made up of, at its very core, is curious teenagers with an affinity for travel.
Neuchâtel Junior College offers the unique opportunity to study Canadian curriculum abroad. While living in Switzerland in a French community, students enjoy an international education through travel and experiential learning in Europe. Gap year and Grade 12  high school students gain international experience and develop independence and life skills that prepare them for university and the global workplace.

A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap