Intercultural Understanding: Finding My Path

Submission by Chris Kim, Wellness Peer and PPEC Representative

I came to UBC to become a doctor. I think I told myself I wanted to help people, but that sounds too altruistic to be me. The real reason had to do with two big influences on my life: Parents and society. They formed an unrivaled partnership of direct and indirect pressure; my teenage mind was convinced.

All the little things in university drove me nuts. Why couldn’t I do laundry? Why had I just realized how competitive med school was? Why didn’t I learn anything useful in high school? Looking back, all I did was think about myself.

I have grown a lot in the past 4 years and I’ve found something I really love to do; fortunately, it doesn’t involve med school. This development came from a mental adjustment; I started thinking more openly and with greater empathy, which accelerated my learning and propelled me to try many new things. The greatest impact it had was on my understanding of diversity. People always say diversity is important and it’s part of the Canadian way, but diversity is commonly seen as a barrier. Not just ethnic diversity, but diversity in all forms. Like personality differences in teams, ‘how do we include that quiet guy?’

Instead of seeing it as a barrier, I’m starting to see diversity as a learning opportunity. Any differences in opinion, beliefs, and experiences are chances to mutually learn. This idea of intercultural understanding can be difficult at times, but being open-minded and seeing diversity in a new light has made me a better person. In keeping with this mindset and in the spirit of UBC Thrive, I have taken on a couple new things the past month like mentorship and stress breaks. Having mentors helped me realize I learn best verbally and through conversation. The stress breaks is an idea I got from a friend, where I stop thinking about everything and enjoy nature for 15 minutes. Both have helped my well-being and both are a result of thinking interculturally.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Equity Ambassadors at the Ropes Course!

Check out the Equity Ambassadors getting to know each other at the Ropes Course!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Little Mermaid of The Jewish Genesis

A wide-eyed wild child,

Sprung from the rib of her brother,
The first woman was born free.
Shackled simply by her love for her father.
Burdened only by her insatiable curiosity.

Was the little mermaid of the Jewish Genesis! Fiercely independent!
She sought wisdom the way a child seeks affection, Uninhibited.
Uncaring of the consequences of her desire,
Was unafraid.

Made to be obedient.
But destined to be a rebel legend.
She bent the rules like molten metal!
Molding it in her mind – it made sense…
“Father would want me to know the difference between good and evil…”

So foraging for forbidden fruit,
She took the fate of the world in her fist.
Pioneering the very concept of the calculated risk, Eve…
Was unafraid.

But the world is far too harsh a thing to hold.
For human hands made so kind… so gentle,
Like fine-feathered-fingers grasping at cold… hard… metal.

It would fall in hands of anyone.
We would have fallen in the hands of anyone…

So don’t think about throwing your blame,
Like a skipping stone over still water,
Believing that it doesn’t hurt her,
It isn’t fair.
Yes… it bounces off of Eve; she’s a fairytale,
But the blame has to sink somewhere.


Right down the cascades of her bright red hair.
To her daughters,
Your daughters,
Our daughters, and sisters and mothers.

We watch them and guard them and treat them like they can’t do these things for themselves.

Like if we avert our eyes for a second it will make a catastrophic cast out of Eden difference.
That they’ll eat from a tree that no longer exists…
Put down the whip!
The horse is dead!
The fruit is gone!
That was circa… Genesis!!!

Let my sisters be!
Support their autonomy!
Don’t question their authority!
Don’t stifle their independence!

Forsake the lens of Adam!
A man too proud, too jealous to thank his sister…
For his wisdom…

Thank you Eve.



Submission by Ivan Leonce, Pride UBC Peer Counselling/On-the-DL Facilitator

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sign the Diversity Pledge!


UBC is an enormous university. It’s home to a colourful mosaic of cultures, beliefs, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages and appearances. However it is a sad reality that within this rich environment prejudice exists.

Acts of discrimination on campus are not always intentional. Often they are due to an innocent lack of understanding, by someone not thinking about how the words they say will affect others, or by people not speaking up when they should.

When someone refers to something negative as “gay”, or when someone makes a sexist joke, they are being discriminatory. It might not seem like a big deal, but these actions can hurt. It can make others feel excluded, and affect their ability to take part in all that UBC offers. It will affect you too, as you miss out on the opportunity to learn from a wide variety of individual experiences.

As an Equity Ambassador, I dream of an inclusive campus where all students feel welcome. For this reason, I am signing the diversity pledge.

By doing so, I have committed to taking steps towards learning about others, thinking about my words and speaking out when I witness discrimination.

I hope you can join me.


Sign the pledge and share it with your friends.

Posted originally on UBC FYI.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Witnesses: A TRC-related Reflection by Cicely Blain

Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools

The Belkin Art Gallery @ UBC

The Morris and Helen Belkin art gallery situated on the Vancouver campus of UBC, on unceded Musqueam territory, is hosting an exhibition named Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools to portray and depict the experiences of Canada’s First Nations people during the time of residential schools. In honour of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it was a popular destination on September 18th (it runs until December 1st) and many students took the cancellation of classes as a great opportunity to visit and explore the exhibit.

The name Witnesses is an interesting concept because it tells us that in some way we, Canadian citizens, residents or visitors, are all witnesses to the era of residential schools. The artists are from all over British Columbia and Canada; some experienced life in the schools while others just remark on the aftermath and resulting effects on society since their complete closure in 1996. As visitors to the gallery, we witness the often repressed expression of First Nations artists.

For me, as a non-Canadian, the event was particularly interesting because most things were new concepts. For example, an installation piece named The Lesson by Joane Cardinal Schubert (pictured at bottom) was striking in many ways. The piece is a classroom set up with small, old-fashioned wooden school chairs, painted black and tied together at the legs with rope. On each chair there is a rotting red apple. The walls are painted as black chalk boards and written across them is partly a lesson in the form of a story from within a residential school and partly names, quotes, messages, signatures and cries for help by different people. The concept of the piece is interesting, because unlike someof the art work in the exhibition, it does not immediately scream horror and oppression. Instead there is an eerie sense of entrapment which enables the audience to understand the mind frame of the children in residential schools and the First Nations people as a whole in a colonised land. We are reminded, or perhaps told for the first time, about how the residential school system has had a generational effect throughout Canada by the scrawls on the blackboard, asking ‘Why?’ and lamenting for lost children. The bareness of the classroom is ghostly – this grave era of very recent history still looms over all of us today. Either we are victims, perpetrators or witnesses of these events.

In contrast to the stillness is Lisa Jackson’s video Savage in which a young First Nations girl is portrayed being removed from her mother and taken to a residential school. The students, with zombie-like grey faces, suddenly perform a dance while the teacher is absent. The mother at home is singing which turns into a wail of sadness and frustration at the loss of her daughter to the residential school system. The dancing and singing, to me, symbolise a form of expression and release which has been noted as common in many colonised and oppressed cultures across the world. Often, when everything is taken from you, all you have left is your own culture and it is important to keep it alive with mediums such as song, dance, art and story-telling. The video is a clever contemporary medium that people of today can relate to and helps a naive audience, uneducated about First Nations art and culture like myself, to break the preconceived notion that the First Nations people are behind the times and reminds us that traditional is not synonymous with out-dated. The modern-ness of the video, filmed in such crisp, clear quality, with quirky sound, lighting, music and direction enables viewers to see he First Nations people as equals on the world stage of film and media, especially when we learn, as I only just did, that a film festival in Toronto celebrating First Nations films (the imagineNATIVE Festival) is reaching its tenth year. Savage was presented there in 2009.

Film as a medium is so often associated with Hollywood, the West and America that we begin to merge the idea of ‘film’ and ‘movie’ and forget that they are two very different things – one has become a global sensation that dangerously affects the views, actions and ideologies of people all over the globe while the other is an art form that often documents or symbolises realities such as the despicable treatment of First Nations people in history and today.

Like the video by Lisa Jackson, most pieces in this exhibition are a scary reminder of how ignorant and closed-minded we, as outsiders to First Nations communities, can be. The content of the work is unimaginably varied from religion, to treatment of children, to living conditions, to post-residential school effects and the format of the work was amazingly diverse. Aside from the aforementioned film and installation pieces, works also include sculpture, photography, audio, water colour paint, acrylic paint, print, stone, text, drawing and mixed media. The exhibition has such variety of pieces that everyone can find at least one thing that captures them. Even if you are not usually interested by art, this exhibition will completely broaden your horizons and open your mind to the amazing depths of artistic talent and creativity present in First Nations communities. It will sadden you, yes, and some pieces may horrify you, but that is only testament to the genius of the artists and curators at the Belkin Art Gallery. You will leave more enlightened, open-minded and knowledgeable than you arrived.

The show runs until December 1st 2013, don’t miss it!

The Lesson by Cardinal Shubert


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring 2013 – International Women’s Day at UBC!

by Elaine Lin

This year on March 8 in Irving K. Barber, the UBC Equity Ambassadors put together another International Women’s (IWD) Day event once again to raise awareness of this important day and to celebrate women. We focused our event this year on positive body image to celebrate real and natural beauties, regardless of shape, size, gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, age, class, ability, economic background, or religious belief. We have seen, time and time again, mainstream media featuring bodies, particularly women’s bodies, that have been severely Photoshopped and embellished upon.

We have seen the ways in which bodies, especially women’s bodies, have been sexually objectified in mainstream media. We hoped that by organizing this IWD event, we can encourage people to love themselves and their bodies and to deconstruct the media’s image of women as sexual objects. We also hoped to empower women and people in general, so that they can be confident of who they are instead of judging themselves according to societal expectations.

Our event booth featured:

  • A fun IWD-themed photo booth for taking cool and memorable photos
  • Inspirational take-away bookmarks with quotes
  • Real-life stories of women
  • A recycle box to throw away insecurities and things people dislike about their bodies or themselves in general
  • Free treats

The takeaway bookmarks with body positive quotes were empowering and meaningful. The display board with colourful photos depicting diverse forms of women raised awareness and started conversations. Further, the photobooth questions and quotes got people thinking and engaged with the event theme. Having our friends who were willing to write their own personal stories and posting their photos was inspiring for people to see. It made the whole idea of feminism and gender equality seem more relatable. Lastly, we raised awareness amongst males as well.

One of the popular bookmark quotes featured:

“Call me smart; call me sassy; call me bold; call me strong. Don’t call me hot; don’t call me sexy; don’tcall me baby. Call me by what I am, don’t call me by the narrow expectations that society has placed upon me.” – Selena Zhong

We hope that another IWD event will be hosted by Equity Ambassadors and other organizations and clubs on campus in the years to come.

For photos and more info of the IWD event, check out our Facebook event page. Be sure to “like” our  International Women’s Day @ UBC Facebook page to stay up to date about IWD- and feminism-related info.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating International Women’s Day!

Where: IKBLC main concourse.

When: 10am – 4 pm.

Every year on 8 March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD provides a common day for globally recognizing and applauding women’s achievements as well as for observing and highlighting gender inequalities and issues. But not just on IWD, but all year round, many organizations and individuals work tirelessly to support gender equality through a multitude of initiatives, causes and

According to Wikipedia,
“Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is a ‘person whose beliefs and behavior are based on feminism.'”.

…Huh? So what is feminism?
What does it mean to be a feminist? And where are the feminists? Wait, am I a feminist?

Come to know more about IWD, redefine FEMINISM with us, and as a plus… have your photo taken!!

Where: IKBLC main concourse.

When: 10am – 4 pm.

See you then! 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So as long as you can sing and dance, and look pretty, it’s okay to punch people in the face?

I know that the issue of Chris Brown being invited back to the Grammy Awards last Sunday, and being awarded no less, has been an issue that is much talked about on the internet.  But I feel that it should still be addressed here, because it is about violence against women, which is a very serious issue that should be addressed more broadly by society.  Violence against women is often ignored, because for some reason it’s a taboo subject.  And I think part of the reasons why this incident with Chris Brown happened is because violence against women is not given its due weight and attention in society.

 When I watched the Grammy’s on Sunday (I was watching for Adele, because I heart that woman!), I muted the TV when I saw Chris Brown, especially when he went onstage to accept the award for Best R&B album.  I was pissed that he gets to go to the Grammy, after what he had done to Rihanna about three years ago.  He did not deserve to be celebrated like this.  It has only been three years since Grammy has blacklisted him, and apparently Grammy has decided that three years is sufficient time for everyone to move on from it. Seriously?

 Did they think about what would it be like for Rihanna to see him onstage? And to actually get an award? Did they think about how domestic violence survivors would feel when they see him, an abuser, being celebrated?

 And actually, when the Grammy was asked about inviting back Chris Brown, their response was:

 “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years, and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened” (The Washington Post)


 The news of Chris Brown beating Rihanna broke right before the 2009 Grammy Awards.  Was scrambling to fix up the program for the 2009 Grammy so traumatic and painful that the Grammy had to be hospitalized like Rihanna did after Chris Brown beat her?

 Anyway, there is a lot more that can be said about the Grammy inviting back Chris Brown.  The power play and the reasons behind these decisions, such as perhaps they invited both Chris Brown and Rihanna to the Grammy to boost TV ratings, are disgusting.  And the Award show that night was paying tribute to Whitney Houston. 

 What I really want to talk about (I know, I’m taking a long time to get to the point) is the people’s reaction to the whole incident, which is more astonishing and frightening.  During the award show, there were women on Twitter tweeting comments like:


 Now, I am not saying that comments like these are the only ones that showed up on the internet about Chris Brown at the Grammy.  There were many, many people, thankfully, that were criticizing the Grammy and Chris Brown. But the fact that so many people actually said they are quite fine with being punched by Chris Brown, because of who he is, is well…horrifying.

 This speaks volumes about the fact that people don’t seem to understand or care about what it is like to be physically abused, or how serious an issue domestic violence actually is.  I can only think that tweets like these exist because:

  •  Domestic violence and violence against men or women are not issues people tend to talk about.
  • People don’t want to talk about it.
  • The media is pretty hush about the issue.
  • People are really desensitized to violence, because of the amount of violence on TV, in films, in video games and on the internet today.
  • Or perhaps, it’s because of the repression-by-the-people-with-power-in-this-world-against-anything-not-considered-mainstream!

 All of these reasons, plus many other reasons, can result in hurtful and insensitive actions from people like these tweets.  This ignorance is alarming and it is damaging, because as long as people ignore, choose not to care, be indifferent or pretend not to see the problems that are very much in their faces, issues of violence against men or women will continue to worsen.  This should not have to be a hush topic.  And I really don’t want to use this cliché, but ignorance is not bliss.

 And last but not least, because we “haters” seem to complain and criticize him too much, so a few days after the Grammy, Chris Brown posts on his twitter:


 Has he really changed all that much? Does he actually deserve a second chance, with responds like this? Of course, he deleted the tweet a few hours later.  But the damage is done.  Just like the fact that when people think it is okay to be punched in the face, when said puncher is a celebrity or their idol, the damage is done.

If you want to voice your support, here are a couple of petition sites:

The Grammys: Apologize to Domestic Violence Survivors

Chris Brown: Publicly apologize for beating Rihanna & return Grammy as sign of remorse


Thanks for reading,

One of the “haters” that will not f*** off


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UBC SLC 2012: Learning Through Leading

This past weekend, myself and three other Equity Ambassadors presented a workshop at the UBC Student Leadership Conference.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the SLC, it’s basically a day of attending workshops led by UBC students and faculty that you have signed up for in advance, as well as getting a chance to attend presentations by keynote speakers. It’s also, of course, about meeting new people while enjoying the lunch included in your registration -and if you’re a facilitator of a workshop the SLC is a chance to improve your skills as a leader and share your passions with fellow students.

I presented at the SLC last year with the EAs on the accessibility of sustainability- how to make a “green” lifestyle fit in with the time and resources associated with being a student. I was impressed by both the participation of the students during our workshop who took time out of their weekends to engage with the topic, and also the amount of students who showed up from many schools besides UBC.  This year I was similarly impressed, having the chance to chat with people from local high schools and colleges, as well as many UBC students.

This year, I had the privilege to present with Demi, Phoebe, and Teng Teng – three enthusiastic new EAs who were more than ready to share their passion about the “Hidden Message” in commercial advertising and the media.  Yes, our workshop was about the stereotypes about gender, sexual orientation, body type, culture, and how we as a society absorb and process these messages.

One of the highlights of our workshop that come to mind immediately for me, was the enthusiasm and desire to learn by the students who attended our workshop.  This truly made the experience worthwhile and exciting. Another highlight was the chance to learn together as a group, and not just act as facilitators but as people willing to take into consideration the diverse perspectives of the participants. 

When looking at the ads we provided as examples of stereotypes perpetuated in the media, the groups came up with many insightful points which led to further questions and insights.  When looking at one of the ads by Dolce & Gabbana depicting a woman in a sexual and submissive position surrounded by four men, someone brought up an issue beyond the obvious one of female body image and portrayal, that of the sexualized and limited representation of men in advertising. 

At the end of the workshop, we discussed the recent photo of “plus sized” model Katya Zharkova embracing a “conventional” sized model whose thin appearance is made even more jarring in contrast with Zharkova’s curvaceous figure.  Zharkova herself, at size twelve, is larger than the average plus sized model who can be as small as a size six and still fit withing this category.  Conventional models such as the one depicted in this photo with Zharkova often meet the Body Mass Index for anorexia. 

It was great to be able to bring home the workshop with a very current issue, and the short discussion we had inspires me to keep working to break stereotypes about the unattainable and unhealthy standards of beauty in society we are constantly bombarded with.  This process of learning through leading is one that inspires me, and makes me stop and realize the potential for self-growth through teaching and working with others.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Sarah Dekerf


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What’s so “Hilarious”?

I don’t know if I am over reacting or taking things too seriously, but I am sure that if I don’t write this today, I might regret it tomorrow…

The very first time I came to Canada and introduced myself to the students in UBC campus, people had various reactions…

–          Some would say, “Oh so you are from the Middle East”, when Uzbekistan is actually in Central Asia. I don’t mean to say that people should know the exact location of each country in the world. Yet, I do believe people should be more careful while making judgments or certain associations by looking at the person.  Just because I wear hijab (head scarf that Muslim females wear) doesn’t mean that I am from the Middle East.

–          Some would not be able to pronounce the name calling it UzPakistan, or Uzafghanistan… I understand that it might be hard to pronounce the name of my home country, but what stroke me the most was when I heard,

–          “Is that the country where Borat is from?” (with a sarcastic smile on their face..) and once I paused for a while, most of the people would say “I don’t mean to offend you but that’s the only time I heard about this country.. ”

All right, Uzbekistan

  • was part of the Great Silk Road,
  • was homeland for famous scholars like: Ismail-Al-Bukhari, Al-Khorezmi, Abu-Rayhon Beruniy, Alisher Navoiy and Amir Temur,
  • is the third largest cotton exporter in the world,
  • has the winner of FIDE World Chess Champion,
  • is one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world,
  • is the 13th country in the world with increasing GDP-real growth rate,

and the list is endless..

Yet, people heard of it only in Borats movies! Well Borat is a whole another issue and this is not what I am about to talk today.

The issue that worries me is, nowadays people think it is “normal” (whatever your definition of normal is..) to make fun of a whole nation and doubt the intelligence of more than 28,000,000 people just by looking at a video where 8 individuals seemed to have problems with using an escalator. Apparently, Damien Gayle, one of the editors in UK Daily Mail thinks it’s totally fine to have a couple of laughs and put “funny” captions on shots taken from the video, just like you would on pictures of animals!

First of all, anybody who pays enough attention to the video, can notice that the belt of the escalator was not working properly, which suggests that the reason why people were falling off is not because they didn’t know how to ride the escalator, but rather due to the misfunction of the escalator.

Second, even if we assume the escalator was in perfect condition, the video footage purposefully edited to show only 8 people, excluding all the other shoppers in the mall who were absolutely fine while riding the escalator.

Third, since I am Uzbek myself, I am aware of the dress code that the majority of the population follows in the cities, and by looking at the clothing one can see, that the video included only the guests who probably don’t live in the most developed parts of the cities.

The truth is, escalators are not a new finding to Uzbekistan. Yes, they are not found in all parts of the country such as in villages, because there is no necessity for it. Just like you wouldn’t see a grand shopping mall with twenty escalators in the middle of Siberia in Russia, or in the middle of some small town in the UK, they wouldn’t build big projects in the rural areas of Uzbekistan. As simple as that!

Even if escalators were unveiled to Uzbekistan very recently, and even if all the Uzbek population was struggling with riding an escalator, I don’t see the “ hilarious” part of teasing people and looking down upon them. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be wasting my time and energy to write about this issue, if it was uploaded by some youtubers just for fun and had a dozen mean comments about the individuals in the video.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only case! An article on this video was published in UK Daily Mail on 20th December 2011, where the author – Damien Gayle comedified, and hilarisified the footage, by putting sarcastic captions and by making up stories for each person. Moreover, the title of the article was “How can getting on an escalator be this hilarious? Confused Uzbeks struggle with new walkway”

Apart from the nasty sarcasm in the topic, the author generalizes the ability of riding the escalator of the whole Uzbek population, by using the word UZBEKS! On top of everything, the rude comments such as “…anyone have any footage of them using a door?” – Craig Milton, Toronto, Ontario., 20/12/2011 were accepted and got the most likes!


If such popular and official websites think it is acceptable to make fun of nations that they barely even know of… what does this suggest to the rest of the world?

Does this mean that all the people who are fed with media every single day of their life, will find it “hilarious” to watch people falling?

Does this mean that everything we learnt in high school and back when we were kids, such as: making fun of people and bullying is not right, is actually right?

So where do we draw the line between having fun and making fun of people?

There is an Uzbek saying: “Hazilning tagi zil”, which can more or less be translated to “There is truth behind every joke”.

I don’t know what is the truth behind these teasing jokes made in the mentioned article, but I know one thing, it is not acceptable!


An Uzbek girl who can perfectly ride an escalator.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Discrimination Based on Name?

Last night started off like another ordinary night. I wrote my 7pm Geography exam. Handed in the exam. Then we got our graded final essays back. I got a fantastic mark, this is not about me contesting the grade. I’m writing this because I found a comment on my essay that I was deeply offended by.

The TA wrote, “Grammar issues throughout– but I will not discount for because seem to be second language issue– but make better use of the writing centre to clean these up and improve!”

There is so much wrong with this comment. I will try my best to deconstruct why I find the comment to be racist. To further clarify, I am not accusing the TA of being racist. Please watch the following video.

I am offended that she i) assumed that I was ESL (perhaps derived from my obvious Korean name) ii) that she treated me differently based on the assumption that I was ESL

Let me elaborate:

i) I do not identify with the term ESL. I came to Canada at the age of 6. Although Korean is my “mother tongue”, I am way more proficient in English than I am in Korean. Just ask my Korean relatives who I wrote Korean Christmas cards to, they always have a great laugh at my inability to spell properly or to form correct sentence structure in Korean. I would identify with the term “Native English Speaker”. And for the record, in four years at UBC, no one else has ever accused me of writing like an ESL student.

ii) UBC should evaluate their students equally and fairly on all grounds, regardless of their ESL status. Foreign students are all required to take the LPI exam and I thought the whole point of this was to put everyone on even ground. If the TA is letting me cut corners because “I’m ESL”, I do not want those marks. If she thinks that they are legitimate grammar mistakes, she should have taken those marks off because I don’t deserve them. Then, I would have met with her to discuss those grammar errors and we would have had a discussion on grammar and grammar alone. In this case, the grammar errors that she mentions are not grammar errors. There is nothing grammatically wrong with the sentences that she circled. It is a mere writing-style preference.

This brings me to another point: How did the TA infer that “I am ESL”? I am assuming that she derived this assumption from my obvious Korean name. The header of every page had “Kyuwon Kim” written on it loud and clear. I have never met this TA. (This lack of interaction speaks volumes about the education system at UBC but that is a separate issue). I didn’t even have her email until now (I just emailed my Prof to get her email). Perhaps then it is not too unfair to assume that the reason why in four years no one had told me to go to the writing centre is because I am in the Faculty of Forestry. Forestry is a tiny faculty and this translates to smaller class sizes. I took a 400 level globalization course last year and scored the highest grade I have ever gotten in an UBC essay. Perhaps this is because the Prof knew me by name and knew that I was proficient in English. I am confident that if this essay had “Jane Smith” on the header, this TA would have never suggested “second language issues”.

Allow me digress on this name thing for a while. In my “History of Asian Immigrants in Vancouver” course we talked about names for a whole lecture. Asian immigrants chose an English name as a sign that they knew what to expect in the new world. They were making life convenient for their new neighbours by choosing a name that was easily pronounceable. The fact that I have only one Korean name and not an English name explains a lot about my personal history. My parents originally came to Canada to pursue their grad studies and the plan was to return to Korea after they were finished. Our immigration story was supposed to be a temporary one. But after the completion of their grad studies, my parents realized that it would be almost impossible for me to go back to the Korean education system—my Korean sucked, I would find it hard to fit in to the Korean culture. So we stayed in Canada. So the fact that I have only a Korean name can be explained by my family’s original plans for us to stay only a short while in Canada. That being said, I grew up embarrassed of my name, complaining to my parents to give me an English name. My parents responded by encouraging me to be confident and proud of my name.

This personal attitude change on my name has its limitations. I’ll be the first to admit that my name has become a barrier to socialization. Growing up in swimming lessons I was the kid in the class that got practice my front-glide last.  This is how it went: “Jimmy go, Amanda go, Eric go…. You (points to me) go!”. Even now as a young adult, introducing myself to people often becomes a horrifying experience. “Hey what’s your name?” “Kyuwon… like Q1.. y’know..” Try saying this in a bar with loud music… it’s a nightmare. But all humor aside, there is zero legitimacy in assuming that my foreign-name equates to me being ESL.

It would be convenient if everyone was John or Mary. But wouldn't that be so boring?

What disturbs me the most is that the TA does not see that her comment is discriminatory and offensive. She wrote it thinking she was being nice and understanding. For this reason I am excited to meet with her to tell her that I can see how she was trying to be nice, but really I find her comment to be inappropriate and offensive.

Thanks for reading,

Kyuwon Kim

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Place to Make a Difference

I have been a member of Equity Ambassadors for a year and a half, during which I got a chance to make a difference in others’ lives, as well as my own.

I learned about the peer programs by chance, when I was browsing opportunities to be involved on campus. That was when I first heard about the Equity Ambassadors, a peer program that works towards raising students’ awareness of equity and diversity, and come up with ways to make UBC a more inclusive environment. I was pleasantly surprised to find a program that centered on what I’ve been passionate about, but it took me some determination to join, as I was expecting the group meeting to be lecture-like seriousness, with lots of arguments in between. I mean, these are serious issues to talk about, so the group meeting would be stressful too, right?

I was so happy I didn’t let that thought stop me from going to the first group meeting, because it was completely opposite of all my worries! In a fun, relaxing environment, we shared our ideas about social justice while active listening to what each other has to offer with respect. Throughout the year, I was really lucky to participate in meaningful projects such as the video and poster campaigns, to raise students’ awareness on diversity and challenge discrimination based on stereotypes. I got the opportunity to develop a project that, even slightly, made others’ lives better by providing knowledge on equity and diversity, as well as resources to help students in need.

The involvement with the peer programs also made a difference in my own life. I have learned to collaborate with people from very diverse backgrounds, and appreciate ideas that were different that mine. My communication skills have improved significantly, as I had the opportunity to give a workshop at the Student Leadership Conference last year. As the representative of Equity Ambassadors, I also went to the peer programs retreat this summer. There I learn to become a student leader, and I got to know people from different peer programs and make friends that are far beyond just social networking.

The peer programs are places for learning about others and myself, and it was where I started to make a difference. It was fun and meaningful, and I’m really glad that I decided to be involved

^ Photo of the Equity Ambassadors booth at the Know Your Status (HIV) event

– Catherine Tsai, Second year Science, Equity Ambassadors

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EA fall update: Prepping for the SLC workshops

Equity Ambassadors have been busy this month, collaborating with the Wellness Peers on “Rapid HIV tests” that took place in Marine Drive and in Brock Hall. As well, our weekly Tuesday meeting have been busy with workshops from Out in Schools and YouthCO. And in between all this, we have been planning three workshops for the Student Leadership Conference in January. I have been spearheading in designing a new “Accents” workshop for SLC and that is what I’d like to elaborate on in this blog entry.

Back in March, when I joined the EA team, it was because of one simple reason: I was annoyed. I was annoyed of walking into classes taught by a Professor who had an accent and listening to the lecture hall fill with condescending snickers of students making fun of the Professor’s pronunciations. Or worse yet, having students close their ears and blatantly complain that they couldn’t learn because they couldn’t understand the Prof’s accent. “This Prof’s so dumb, I can’t understand what he’s saying”. I was annoyed of doing group projects with foreign students whose spoken English was not the best and having other group members immediately equate the student’s writing quality to the student’s spoken English. “Urgh, I’m gona have to do all the work. Do you even think that China girl can write? She can barely speak!”

This is a personal issue for me. I have this vivid memory, from four years ago, of going out for dinner with my parents. After the waitress took our drink orders, my Dad asked her to point him to the restrooms. A while later the waitress returned and started to explain the day’s specials. Then she suddenly stopped herself and turned to my Dad and asked, “Do you understand English?” At that moment, I was about to explode with anger! Does my Dad speak English? My Dad has a PhD in English Education from the University of Toronto. The waitress explained herself by saying, “Oh, just when he asked for the restrooms I heard his accent so I thought that he might not understand English”. Clearly, the waitress didn’t see anything wrong with equating someone’s speaking level with their intelligence level. This anecdote makes for a good cocktail party story. It always guarantees a few chuckles, everyone loves to laugh at the waitress’ ignorance. But as good as it is to be easy-going and to laugh, these walls-of-ignorance must be broken down. So that is why we are working on this “Accents” workshop for SLC.

Our workshop will be in “Theatre of the Oppressed” style. Basically, it means that the audience is given the opportunity to intervene in the scene. This gives the audience the chance to “be put in the character’s shoes” and ultimately to change the outcome of the play.  From our workshop, participants will learn how to transform from a passive observer to how to be an active responder when witnessing a discriminating situation.

The poster for "Us and Them"
The poster for “Us and Them”

Last weekend, Rosalind and I had the chance to see a professional “Theatre of the Oppressed” play titled “Us and Them”. The play had six characters, each experiencing alienation from society due to different reasons. There was a transgendered person, an Aboriginal person, an Egyptian immigrant, a Filipino immigrant, a hetero-sexual white male, and a person with a past criminal record trying to find employment. Through the interactions of these characters we explored many issues: racism, sexism, classism, the unjust justice system, Aboriginal land-claim issues etc. One would naturally wonder, how did a play that is 45mins in length with only six characters cover so much ground? The answer is simple. The producers of the play boiled down these issues to the very human level. The scenes were not about political bills or court cases, the scenes were about two women having coffee, a man buying a TV, and your cousin meeting your boyfriend. Because more often than not, these issues play out in our everyday lives. Sometimes the issues are so embedded in our daily lives that we have conditioned ourselves to not get so offended at discrimination. See, when I was out for dinner with my parents, I was more upset than my Dad. My Dad had simply learned over the years to expect the kinds of comments made by the waitress. But I had yet to learn. And I would like to never learn to be a passive witness to discrimination. That is why I am so grateful for “Theatre of the Oppressed” plays, it grants us the chance to be an active audience– to take the place of a character and to defend ourselves.

The Director of the “Us and Them” (David Diamond) closed the evening by saying that “Dialogue is judgment suspended in air. Thank you for risking in dialogue with us tonight.” We need to accept that there is an element of judgment associated by talking about anything, and especially if you are talking about the tough-to-talk-about-“isms” (racism, sexism etc.) But we need to acknowledge this judgment, and try our best to minimize it, and just take on the risk of dialogue.

Thanks for reading,

Kyuwon Kim

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China Hit and Run Girl Story

By now, many of us are not foreign to the recent news about a two-year old girl in Foshan City, in the southern province of Guandong who had been hit and run by a truck twice due to the car backing up and running over the girl again. After she was hit and run many people passed by, but simply ignored her. Worst of all another truck came and just simply ran over her as if there was no human being lying on the street. Finally, an old beggar woman came to help the poor girl lying on the street, but by the time help came we all knew that it was too late.

The story of the hit and run girl and China brings about so much equity issues relating to society. First of all, I find the death of this girl to be unfair as she died simply because people failed to do something that is basic human instinct such as to help someone who is in need. If someone just lent a helping hand when the girl was first ran over by the truck then maybe she wouldn’t have gotten hit the third time by the truck that simply ignored and ran over her; thus, she might have been saved. Ii is unfair for me that people suffer and die just because of human apathy. Imagine how many cases of deaths have occurred that are not caught on camera simply because people refused to extend help when it was needed. It is also odd that it was an old beggar woman who extended help to the little girl, instead of the people who are more well off and educated. It just proves to us that our education system has failed to educate citizens on how to extend help when needed. Goodness is measured not based on one’s wealth or education, but on exercising good values towards strangers. In society, we always tend to create boundaries between the rich and the poor, and asserting that the rich are better because they possess more money; however, in the end what distinguishes us from another is not through material wealth, but through possession of innate human values.

China may be known to be a sleeping tiger that will conquer the world economy within years to come; however, their citizens lack the values that will allow them to be successful in this world. China should change its policies that would allow their citizens to develop more empathy towards the needy as seen in how most people failed to help the little girl because they were afraid of being blamed for the hit and run, which can result in death penalty if convicted. In my opinion, they should probably not be so severe towards the death penalty law, so that people will be less fearful of helping the needy. I find it really sad that China had to create a law that offers money towards good Samaritans as being a good Samaritan is something that we should all strive for, and not something we should do in order to get extrinsic rewards. As equity ambassadors not only are we responsible for promoting anti-discrimination laws throughout campus, but we are also responsible for showing empathy, and extending a helping hand towards those in need.

– Demi D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transgenderism as a “disorder”?

Transgendered individuals are more vulnerable in facing ostracism and criticism from society than the so called normal “straight” individuals. It is interesting to think for children who are transgendered then, how they must feel like. Even as adults, coping with societal pressure is a rough process mentally and emotionally.  For children, I can only imagine it to be worse.

 Children who are transgendered were thought to have a mental illness of Gender Identity Disorder. Mental health professionals are looking into this now and more research has been conducted. It should not be classified as a “disorder”!

Keeping in line with this, I came across this article and I thought it would be interesting to share and to get to know your thoughts!

 – Rayna S.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Equity Ambassadors Thrive: Respectful Environment

The Thrive week is here!

Equity Ambassadors Thrive! Despite all the midterm exams and assignment deadline stress, the Equity Ambassadors are prepared to promote in building a more respectful environment with full charge!

This year, Equity Ambassadors have used their amazing time management skills and are able to present the following two events during the Thrive week:

1) Respectful Environment Workshop
The Equity Ambassadors are holding the “Respectful Environment Workshop” this year during the Thrive week on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM at CSI (Center of Student Involvement) in Brockhall.
More information can be found:;jsessionid=C4F775FDD1764E7024B2659F474450D0

2) Respectful Environment Graffiti Wall/Booth
We are going to set up a “Respectful Environment Graffiti Wall” booth at Brock Hall on 10/21 from 11:30~1:30.

Wondering what is and what makes an respecful environment? Wanting to share you ideas on the Respectful Environment Statement? Come out and visit us!

We look forward to see you there! 🙂


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EA 2010-2011: What a ride!

YouTube Preview Image

Wow! it’s been a long and interesting ride this academic year with EA! The crowning events? The busting stereotypes poster campaign and video. But if you don’t mind Let’s talk about the video, because that’s what I have been actively involved with 🙂

Wow! the video. This sounded like an amazing idea from the start. Each one of us in the group had their idea about what the videos_it was supposed to be a series of four videos_ would be like. But we all shared the same transcending vision: to __kindly, but decisively!_ thumb our nose at _yes. again!_  the infamous Too Asian MacLean’s article.

After many discussions regarding the themes and the format of the videos as well as the types of participants we wanted for each of them, we agreed on four topics (for details you all can check our facebook page D!Stereo). We _I_ were soooo excited! I even had the four videos already screening in my mind! Then, the real challenged began. We had to recruit.

Easy in principle. Not that easy when you actually try. Have you ever heard about those magical stories where hundreds of people rally a cause on facebook? Well… My fellow Equity ambassadors and I decided to use magic facebook. So, we decided to create a facebook group and we named ourselves D!Stereo (meaning D Stereotypes or Deconstruct stereotypes). We invited all our facebook friends to check it out and get involved. We also created posters that we posted on campus.

 Have you ever anxiously waited for that phonecall  that never comes? For that letter that never comes? Well, that’s kind of what happened with our recruiting. No one responded. We tried to modify our mode of recruiting in the hope to get responses but nothing substantial occurred. After few weeks, I was really starting to think that we may not make it after all. But, hey, the Equity Ambassadors are not quitters. We decided to go, camera in hand, throughout campus and to ask students for interviews on the spot. This strategy was not completely unsuccessful. We had some magic times with really enthusiastic people. But the process was slow and editing on the spot interview revealed to be difficult. We were running out of time.

After plan A, plan B and plan C had failed, we decided to organize a brunch/filming session at the occasion of which we would invited some friends. The brunch/filming session became a pizza dinner/filming session; and, as recruiting revealed to be very difficult and  time was running out,  the group members decided to be the front figures of the video. Finally, the letter that we did not expect arrived. The call we were not waiting for anymore came.  Not that we thought that the video would not get done, rather the feeling of seeing it happening afer much struggle was amazing.  The session was amazing!  We had a good time with friends. The filming went smoothly, although we had to come up with some technical adjustments. The food was delicious. And we got some good laughs.

The outcome of this session?_ and of weeks of  work!_  A video that  summarizes the idea driving the  2010-2011 EA program: Stereotypes do NOT define us!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So Funny, so True, so Sad.

Where is the fine line between prejudice and racism?YouTube Preview Image

It is called “racism.”  In a way it is, since it often targets a certain group of people. However, I doubt that most people checking their pockets, or tightening the grips on their bags around a person of African descent are “racist.”  I can tell because, I have been victim of this kind of reactions_yep little, sweet me! And not from strangers only, but from people who should know better since they are acquaintances and (obviously?) not “racist.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

We Give a Damn

YouTube Preview Image

I give a damn, do you?

Here is the link to the website:

-Michelle D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rethink. Equity. Seriously.

Photo Credit: SLC website- www.

If any of you fellow UBC students were able to attend UBC’s Student Leadership Conference last Saturday (Jan 8), I’m sure many of you found it a very insightful and humbling experience. The presentations given by the opening and closing speakers were humorous and engaging, and the keynote speakers gave fantastic talks revolving around the topic of rethinking leadership.

Amongst all of the amazing presentations I was fortunate enough to attend, I found the speech given by Donovan Tildesley to be particularly impactful. Growing up in Vancouver, Donovan was involved in all of the typical activities of a young Vancourverite – he swam in the UBC pool, skied up in Whistler during winter, and studied at UBC. However, he stood out from his peers – he was blind.

Although Donovan was born without the ability to see, he never viewed his condition as a “disability.” However, he was faced with adversity and discrimination early in his life: during Donovan’s speech, he reflected on how other people used to doubt his abilities to succeed in sports, particularly competitive swimming due to his condition. However, with the support of his family, he was able to continue training, and is the current world record holder for the 800m freestyle and 1500m freestyle.

To those of you that were not able to attend the SLC and hear Donovan’s inspirational story, I hope my short summary gives you a glimpse into what individuals can achieve with passion, determination, and a strong will to succeed.

-Lingsa J.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment