The UBC Name Project – Jeanie


“On my dad’s side of the family, everyone’s first names start with a J (although generally my dad and my uncles go by their middle names.) My mom was struggling to come up with a J-name, especially as my older cousin on her side had just been named Jennifer. She didn’t appreciate that her brother, who didn’t even need it, had already used “a perfectly good J-name!”. One of my mom’s coworkers at the time was named Jeanie, and after some deliberation, she went with it. She also didn’t know that Jeanie is often spelled with two “n”s, and she went with the same spelling as her co-worker.”

The UBC Name Project – Brook


BrookBrook: First of all this is Brook without an E. Adding an E is a major pet peeve of mine.

Name Project: Ok! Duly noted. So your name story?

Brook: My parents named me Brook for a couple of reasons, neither of which seem particularly interesting. First of all they were looking for a name that was modern and a little bit unique. They were also attracted to Brook because of the streams that are also called brooks. Both my parents grew up in Vancouver and as such nature was something important to them. Also, the natural beauty of a brook attracted them to this name.

The UBC Name Project – Rob


RobPeople that have interacted with me in different times call me different names. When I was young boy, people called me ‘Bobby.’ These people are mostly dead now though. *laughs* Then people started calling me ‘Bob’ in my early teens. The only time I was called ‘Robert’ was when I knew I was in for some shit. But other than that, it was a traditional thing to call me ‘Bob.’

Then at a certain point in life, almost fifteen years ago, I tried to go by ‘Rob’ as an experiment.

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed this change in culture regarding status in late 70s or early 80s. In my early life, it was a positive and traditional thing to call people by nicknames like Joe, and Mike. But then ‘Joe’ started calling themselves ‘Joseph,’ and ‘Mike’ started called themselves ‘Michael.’

I always saw formalizing names as dressing for business or success. Formalization sets in, and the old casualness has become something negative, though I don’t agree with it at all. It’s kind of like when I have a suit and a tie on, people treat me differently, more so for women if they dress differently. I read a book by David Foster Wallace, who wrote about names in an essay in his book, Consider the Lobster. He talks about how names affect your status and influence, you should read it.

Also, here’s a personal example: my sister ‘Jane’ used to be ‘Janey.’ Then at a certain point, she rejected the name ‘Janey,’ claiming that it was not dignified enough. And so, she started to use the more formal name ‘Jane’ as a status symbol. I had to train myself to not to call her Janey. It seems that she wants to go back to being ‘Janey’ as time passes however. Personally, ‘Bobby’ is sounding better and better to me as I get older and older.

See The UBC Name Project on Facebook to see the rest of Rob’s interview.

The UBC Name Project – Umang

Umang Pooja Khandelwal:


My name Umang is of Sanskrit, Indian origin, meaning ‘happiness,’ ‘hope’ and ‘enthusiasm.’ I was given this name so that I am always aware that one’s success is defined by their happiness quotient. With graduation round the corner and the dawn of a new chapter in my life, I am beginning to realize now more than ever how my name defines me and the choices that I make.

Today on International Women’s Day, I want to share how my middle name came to be. In the majority of the Indian subcontinent, naming conventions follow that a person carries their father’s name as their middle name. Living in a largely patriarchal society in India, my mother defied the existing norms and put up a strong fight against the resistance she faced by the legal system. This unprecedented act led to my middle name being my mother’s name, something I am very proud of. It is a reminder of who I am and what I stand for, and the reality that we have a long ways to go to achieve gender equality. Umang gives me the hope for a better tomorrow and Pooja inspires in me the tenacity necessary to achieve it.

Rule Out Racism 2015

Rule Out Racism bannerRule Out Racism is a week-long series of events that focuses on the need for greater literacy and conversation about race and racism within the UBC community in Okanagan and Vancouver. This year’s theme is “this is what anti-racism looks like,” and all events are from March 16-20. There are a wide range of events, from workshops, to panel discussions, to film screenings.

This year there will also be an evening featuring art that raises awareness about experiences of racism. Intercultural U is organized by UBC Equity Ambassadors and will have many interesting performers and featuring different types of art. Like all other events that are a part of Rule out Racism it is free to attend and open to everyone. Find out who is performing at Intercultural U and register here.

Rule Out Racism week is held in recognition of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which is observed annually on March 21. See below for a full list of events during Rule Out Racism 2015. Read more about each workshop and register at

  • Intercultural Fluency, Diversity, and International Peoples at UBC. Presentation on March 16, 12.30 – 2pm, in Irving K Barber Learning Centre.
  • Let’s Talk About Racism In Residence. Presentation on March 17, 12.30 – 2pm, in Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.
  • Where are we in the world? Film screening on March 18, 12 – 1 pm, in Neville Scarfe Building
  • Anti-Racism Toolbox Workshops
    • When standing in front of the room is not enough: Facilitation skills for difficult conversations. Presentation on March 18, 11 am – 12 pm, in the Food, Nutrition and Health Building.
    • More than Hammer and Nails: Having Difficult Conversations and Building Allyship. Workshop on March 18, 2 – 4 pm, in Buchanan Building Block D.
    • Addressing Racism: from deer in the headlights to effective engagement. Workshop on March 18, 2 – 4 pm, in Buchanan Building Block D.
    • Cultural competency in a diverse classroom: Critical analysis and practice. Workshop on March 18, 2 – 4 pm, in Buchanan Building Block D.
    • Revealing Conversations: an engaging tool for generating safe, meaningful discussions. Workshop on March 18, 2.30 – 3.30, in Buchanan Building Block D.
  • Intercultural U. Evening of art and awareness on March 19, 6 – 8 pm, Sty-Wet-Tan Hall at the First Nations Longhouse. Register to ensure you get food.
  • Value of Freedom: Academics VS. Expression. Panel Discussion on March 20, 10 am – 12 pm, Sty-Wet-Tan Hall at the First Nations Longhouse (Wayfinding at UBC)
    • Drawing from their own experiences and reflecting upon recent media attention on the topic, faculty will discuss the issues raised when engaging with controversial issues.

The UBC Name Project – Alexandra



I got the nickname ‘Alex’ in Grade 6. It’s so common to abbreviate names like ‘Alexandra’ to ‘Alex’ here in Canada, but when I lived in Holland, people called me ‘Alexandra.’ They were so weirded out that my nickname was ‘Alex,’ because apparently it was mostly a male name over there.

My name means ‘the defender of mankind’ or ‘the defender of warriors,’ and I think I live up to that meaning a lot. I’m a passionate social justice activist – I have worked with Me to We in Shanghai, and my goal is to make a career through creating a sustainable change.

Intercultural U 2015

Intercultural U Web Banner 2015Post by Amanda Chiu and Melody Cheung, Equity Ambassadors
Edited by Hannah Barath, Access & Diversity Co-op Student Assistant

The UBC Equity Ambassadors are hosting the third annual Intercultural U on March 19th from 6-8 pm. This event was created to acknowledge and engage with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Aiming to go beyond multiculturalism, i.e. different yet co-existing cultures, intercultural understanding focuses on making connections with and increasing our knowledge of each other’s cultures. In previous years, Intercultural U has included pecha kucha, roundtables, and panel discussions. This year we are presenting an evening of art and awareness to promote understanding between the rich varieties of cultures that every student brings to our campus.

The event is taking place in the Sty-Wet-Tan Hall in the First Nations Longhouse. By hosting Intercultural U in this space we would like to acknowledge that we are learning, working, and living on the traditional, unceded, and ancestral land of the Musqueam people. We hope that the history and beauty of the Sty-Wet-Tan Hall will help us open up a dialogue that enhances our understanding of how cultures intersect with one and another.

We would like to extend an invitation to those who are interested in attending Intercultural U and learning more about diversity and intercultural understanding. This event is open to the public and free of charge. Light refreshments will be provided. To attend, please register at If you have any dietary restrictions or need any other type of accommodation, please note these when registering. If you require accommodation please let us know at before March 5. Registration will remain open until March 16. No one will be turned away at the door, but we cannot guarantee accommodation or food unless you have registered. Make sure to check back for more information about performers and the program of the evening. Find us on Facebook and Instagram at “UBCEquityAmbassadors.”

List of performers:

  • The Forum Theatre Group, Changing the Lens
  • Spoken Word by Molly Billows
  • Spoken Word by Ivan Leonce
  • Song by Termeh
  • Original Video by Ewon Moon
  • Dance by Seri Malaysia Club
  • Paintings by Yuliya Badayeva, Pius Twumasi, Greta Taxis, Janna Kumi, and Yrenew J. K.
  • Origami Piece by Aaron Tong
  • And finally, Participatory Art by U!

The UBC Name Project – Armaan



While deciding what name to choose, my dad read an article by an author named Armin. Both of my parents immediately liked the name and went with Armaan because of its connection to the Urdu word ‘Armaan.’ ‘Armaan’ means ‘ambitions,’ ‘hopes’ or ‘wishes.'”

“Do you think your name defines you well?”

“Yes, I definitely believe so! I think that the notion of hoping or desiring implies a certain knowledge of personal goals. I definitely feel like this describes me because I am very aware of my own personal goals.

Intercultural understanding… through art!

Post by Rachel Lee, Equity Ambassador and 3rd-year Sociology Student

At the start of a new year, everyone has something to look forward to…seeing your friends on campus, summer break, that concert you’ve been waiting forever for. Well here’s something to get excited about in March!

The UBC Equity Ambassadors are planning InterculturalU in celebration of the International Day to End Racial Discrimination, an event promoting intercultural understanding through your artwork!

Going beyond multiculturalism (i.e. co-existing different cultures), intercultural understanding focuses on making connections with, and increasing our knowledge of, each other’s cultures. In the past, InterculturalU included pecha kucha, roundtables, or panel discussions. This year, we hope to present an evening of art and awareness promoting understanding between the rich variety of cultures that every student brings to our campus. And we need your art to help make this possible!

Are you an artist in the broadest, most imaginative sense?
Are you passionate about ending discrimination and celebrating diversity using your art?

Complete an online submission form to showcase your artwork. The online submission process will close on January 19th, 2015.

Here are just few of the possible mediums that your art could be: song, dance, drumming, photography, painting, sculpture, slam poetry, improv, stand-up comedy.

We look forward to all your submissions! If you have any questions please contact us at

The UBC Name Project – Mankirat



My name was uncommon in my own Punjab community at the times my parents named me. I’ve met people with the suffix ‘kirat’ like ‘Jaskirat’ and ‘Harkirat.’ but I have yet to meet another ‘Mankirat.’ My name means ‘setting your mind to something and working to achieve it,’ so it’s nice to have that inspiration when I’m doing school work or something.

When I was seven or so, I used to really hate my name, because kids in my school would always mispronounce my name, and say ‘MankiRAT’ instead of ‘Manki-rit,’ and then go ‘Haw haw, you have a ‘rat’ in your name!’ And so I would come home and demand to my parents that I get a name change immediately. I think I hurt my parents’ feelings a bit because their daughter disliked the name that they gave her. Now that I am grown up, I love my name because it allows me to share my culture when asked about its origin.