Persian New Year Celebrations Begin

*This post was from last year. We updated the time of Norouz – it starts at 3:45pm (Vancouver time) today.*

Norouz نوروز, the Persian New Year, takes place at 3:45pm today. The Persian New Year begins in tandem with the Spring Equinox, and the customs associated with Norouz also relate very closely with nature and the hopefulness that the beginning of Spring embodies. Many people outside of Iran, particularly residents of surrounding regions such as Afghanistan, also celebrate this holiday. The most significant symbol of Norouz, which has its origins in Zoroastarian traditions, is the haft-seen هفت‌سین table spread. The haft-seen traditionally includes seven (haft) edible items that start with “seen” (س ) an “S” sounding alphabet.  Each household normally creates a decorative haft-seen and this is left up throughout the New Year season, which lasts for 13 days.   Continue reading

A Visual on Privilege

This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege

With a recycling bin and some scrap paper.

“I once saw a high school teacher lead a simple, powerful exercise to teach his class about privilege and social mobility. He started by giving each student a scrap piece of paper and asked them to crumple it up.”

Then he moved the recycling bin to the front of the room.

He said, “The game is simple — you all represent the country’s population. And everyone in the country has a chance to become wealthy and move into the upper class.”

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Chinese-Speaking Residents at ‘Welcome Event’

More than 70 residents were in attendance; evening was entertaining as well as educational

By Ying Zhou, Chair, UNA Civic Engagement Committee

Ying June 9 tour

New Chinese-speaking residents enjoy welcoming event at The Chan Centre.
Photo credit Qiu Hong




On June 9, UBC invited members of the UNA civic engagement committee to a ‘Welcome Event’ at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

More than 70 new Chinese-speaking residents attended this event, which was preceded by a walk to the Chan from The Old Barn Community Centre led by UBC executives Alden Habacon, director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development, and Joe Stott, director of planning. They were warmly greeted at the Chan by Joyce Hinton, co-managing director.

Link to full article on Page 9:


Maclean’s March 2014: Newcomers to Canada

by Patti Ryan

Canada wants immigrants – and people from around the world want to live here. What do newcomers and Canada have to offer each other?

When people ask Alden E. Habacon why cultural diversity works in Canada in ways it doesn’t elsewhere, he has a lot to say. But it all simmers down to: “Because
it’s always been here.”

Link to full PDF: Newcomers to Canada for Maclean’s March 2014

Photo courtesy: Martin Dee

CBC On the Coast: Discrimination at UBC (April 1, 2014)

Link to digital archived audio: full text
Segment starts at 08:28

International students face discrimination at UBC, according to new research by a UBC doctoral student.

Alden Habacon, UBC’s director of intercultural understanding, says he’s not surprised by the findings.

“One of the things I’ve been working on is this strategy on intercultural understanding is a conversation around how inclusive and welcoming UBC actually is and what we’ve learned is that you can be a very multicultural, very diverse place and not be an inclusive place. And not be an intercultural place,” he said. “What this research reveals to us is that it actually proves what we were gathering in our own research in the development of that plan.”

Launch A Career in Canada: for International Students, Event of UBC, March 6, 2014 | UBC國際學生活動—— 如何在加拿大開啟職業生涯之旅

At Vancouver Public Library Conference Centre
By Boshan Wang (DAP, Sauder School of Business)

日期: 2014年3月6日
作者:王伯珊 (DAP,尚德商學院)

Launch a Career in Canada is an annual event that features a keynote presentation and interactive discussions with a variety of speakers, panelists, employers, and international alumni representing many different sectors including, but not limited to: engineering, mining, arts and entertainment, biotechnology, marketing and communications, information technology, finance and accounting. There are three rounds of interactive roundtable discussion (kind of like speed dating) that allow participants to ask questions of the mentor, followed by a networking session with the mentors, employers and international alumni.   Continue reading

Colorblind Notion Aside, Colleges Grapple With Racial Tension


ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A brochure for the University of Michigan features a vision of multicultural harmony, with a group of students from different racial backgrounds sitting on a verdant lawn, smiling and conversing.

The scene at the undergraduate library one night last week was quite different, as hundreds of students and faculty members gathered for a 12-hour “speak out” to address racial tensions brought to the fore by a party that had been planned for November and then canceled amid protests. The fraternity hosting the party, whose members are mostly Asian and white, had invited “rappers, twerkers, gangsters” and others “back to da hood again.”

For full article:

Happy Lunar New Year! 恭禧發財 and 新年快樂 | 新年快乐 (Xin Nian Kuai Le!) | 새해 복 많이 받으세요 | Chúc mừng năm mới | 明けましておめでとうございます。

Courtesy of Linda Ong and Library Communications and Marketing

A message from Alden E. Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development (February 4, 2014):

Happy Lunar New Year! Gong hey fat choy and San Nihn Faai Lok! (Cantonese), Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Mandarin), Sae Hae Bok Mani Ba Deu Se Yo! (Korean), Chúc mng năm mi! (Vietnamese), and Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu (Japanese).

This past Friday marked the beginning of the Year of the Horse for Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and many Japanese families all over the world. It is especially important for Vancouver and our community at UBC, as marked by the many celebrations on campus by various clubs and the countless activities throughout the city in the past week.

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Celebrating Lunar New Year with Foods From Different Cultures

yu sheng ingredients 2

Every year, Lunar New Year is celebrated around the globe with great fanfare: lion dances, red packets stuffed with money, and of course, 10-course banquets comprising dishes made with exquisite ingredients and brimming with symbolism–foods that are homonyms or look-alikes for gold bars, prosperity, family unity, fertility, good fortune, etc. This year, Lunar New Year falls on January 31st–it’s the year of the Horse!– and families will gather from far and wide over the next two weeks to eat dishes from long-life noodles to whole fish and fried egg rolls. Continue reading