Category Archives: Involvement/Leadership

Announcing the Closure of this Blog

Recently, UBC Blog Squad has moved towards focusing its content on the new-to-UBC experience, thus removing 2nd year and contributor roles to the program. As a 4th year student, these changes have influenced my involvement with Blog Squad and has lead me to create this post announcing my decision to transition this blog from “active” to archived-form.

I began as a Blog Squad member in August 2009 while I was preparing to move across the country to begin my adventure at UBC. A lot has happened since then and I’ve been very happy to be able to share it with you. It’s been a pleasure being recognized in residence by new-to-UBC students who connected with my blog prior to coming to UBC just as I did when I was in their shoes. Blog Squad was how I found connection to UBC when I couldn’t visit the campus in person. I’m glad I’ve been able to give that same connection to others over the last 3 years.

Like all good things they must come to an end. It may not be a forever-type thing, but for now it is farewell and thank you. As I have progressed through university I have travelled more, began more time-intensive internships and summer projects, and found myself moving towards graduation–I don’t have the time to be able to maintain this blog like I use to. I don’t want to leave loose ends laying and felt this post was a proper way to conclude a defining chapter in my UBC experience.

Now for some acknowledgements. A big thank you to Janet Teasdale for always encouraging me to keep blogging. Alyssa Koehn for being my wonderful Residence Advisor turned best friend and travel companion. Megan Ritchie, Maegan Cowan, Katie Kolberg, and Lauren Kube–all of Naropa and all of Nootka 2nd 2009-2010 for that matter, thank you for enjoying what came from my blog and reinforcing the fun factor in life for me. Brian Commons for reading my blog as a way to get to know me before we started dating and for his continued readership to this present day, years later. UBC Student Recruitment and Ella Wong for giving me the opportunity to film my everyday life and share that with prospective students in Ontario. Big thanks to everyone who read my blog and told me it encouraged them to choose UBC, you brought me such happiness. Pheobe Yu for being the Blog Squad writer who gave me that connection to UBC while I was still in high school in Ontario. Nancy Delvecchio for being a silent but strong reader of my blog and the closest thing to family who has ever had the opportunity to visit me in Vancouver. Katie Fedosenko who once wrote an article for the Faculty of Arts on my experiences during the G20 riots because of a blog post I wrote, thank you. Rabi Sun who I wouldn’t of have had the pleasure of being friends and collaborating with on numerous occasions if it wasn’t for Blog Squad. Shannon Sterling for always making CSI-life sparkle, thank you. Kait Hazzard for all her love and support through my years in Totem, many thanks. The two floors I had the pleasure of advising in Totem Park, thank you. All my friends on UBC campus and abroad, fellow Loran Scholars, Residence Life and SLC teammates, and beyond–thank you. And last but not least, to my fellow Blog Squad members who also put in enormous amounts of effort to create content I thank you for everything you have also done to create the best university experience possible for others.

This blog will remain connected through Blog Squad as an alumni blog for future students to be able to access. I still believe there are posts and resources on this blog that showcase what UBC has to offer and I hope you explore them through my UBC 101 page and through looking at my favourite posts. As a large and wonderful university, it is often hard to connect all the dots and present everything UBC has to offer in one place. It was my goal to be able to provide that for you as much as possible.

With that, it’s time to begin my 4th year at UBC.



Part One: What has happened for the last two months?

For the last two months I’ve had summer vacation. Next week I begin classes as a Go Global exchange student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Here’s what has happened during my “summer vacation.”

Part one: January

Slept on my friend’s couch for two weeks leading up to the 2012 Student Leadership Conference (SLC), in their apartment they’ve named Naropa (named after a university in Boulder, Colorado).

My welcome letter to Naropa

Had my SLC Director make this poster for my friends:

Made this awesome video for the opening ceremonies at the 2012 Student Leadership Conference:

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Later, agreed to take a break from throwing paint at people.

Chloe, our Volunteer Coordinator getting ready to shoot the opening ceremonies video

After months and months of planning, the SLC finally happened!

The Communications and Promotions Portfolio at the SLC awards reception

Then, only 48 hours after the SLC, boarded a plane for New Zealand with Brian and Dylan. Eventually, we showed up in Auckland and took this photo in a coffee shop the day we arrived:

Brain, Dylan, and I are all past Residence Advisors and this year’s members of the SLC planning committee. It worked out well that we are all on exchange in Australia this term, that way the three of us could travel together.

Began participating in WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where we learned about sustainable and organic farming while living and working on farms on the North Island of New Zealand. Here’s a photo with one of our hosts, the Jones family, who own a dairy farm in Kerikeri. I can now add cow milking to my list of experiences.

The Jones family with Brian, Dylan, and I

Finished off the month with sea kayaking, islands, penguins, more organic farming, more weeding on organic farms, and more driving around New Zealand. Next post: what happened in month two of my “summer vacation.”

I made the “Our Campus” in the Ubyssey!

One of my proudest moments at UBC is making the “OurCampus” in the Ubyssey. For those of you who don’t know, every edition of the school paper features a new person who contributes to what UBC is today.

This year’s Faces of Today:
Videos to be released at the UBC Student Leadership Conference on January 14th, 2012 (see you then!).


Have You Been Hit?

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I just have to post this video in case some people on UBC campus have not seen it yet. As Productions Coordinator for the 2012 UBC Student Leadership Conference, I was put in charge of filming a promotional campaign for conference registration. So, here’s the final product of that! You just need to see what that turned out to be, it’s a pretty good laugh and a really fun way to spend one minute and ten seconds of your day.

Stay tuned for more video content and an extended footage version of the shoot!

Goal Setting: Want to know my goals?

My goal setting sheet, updated November 23rd, 2011. Click the image to see it in a larger size.

Have you ever thought about what you want your life to be like in 5 years, or even 10 years? lululemon athletica provides these awesome goal setting worksheets and education materials on their website. Recently, I’ve started working at their Kitsilano store and tonight at our staff meeting I’ve been asked to hand in my goals for the next ten years (don’t worry, we get to update them every month). At lululemon athletica, the people they employ in their stores have their goals posted in store for guests to see. Why would they do this? It’s simple, it keeps you accountable to your goals when you share your goals with other people who are committed to achieving their own goals and helping you achieve yours.

So, here are my goals. It’s not easy putting things like this out there because of fears for criticism, but I’m willing to take the risk and hopefully inspire someone to explore writing out their goals by doing so.

Note: goals have been updated since blog post.

Get Involved with UBC SLC 2012

What’s your breakthrough? Present a workshop or a highlighted project at UBC SLC 2012 this January 14th, 2012. Or, do you know someone who is awesome and deserves to be recognized at the SLC? Nominate them for the Faces of Today award and if they win, I get to film a profile on them to be shown at the conference. I want to meet you and your cool friends. Visit for more. Deadline to apply or nominate is Wednesday, October 12th, 2011.

UBC REC Day of the Longboat

Last weekend was UBC REC’s Day of the Longboat, which celebrated its 25th birthday. Students have an opportunity to form teams of ten and race in canoes around Jericho beach for a weekend in (optional) funny costumes or team spirited clothing. This year my floor in Totem competed in the race. We may have rowed away with a team mate hanging off the edge of the boat for a while, and we may have had another team mate swim to the beach to get a baton for us, but we made it to the finish line without capsizing. Big win. Click here to find out more about Longboat and UBC REC.

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UBC REC Day of the Longboat Wrap Up Video 2011

Nootka 2nd at Day of the Longboat 2011

PS. If you haven’t noticed, I’m the RA on the same floor I lived on in first year. Whuddup!

Flying Made Easy

I’m currently working on organizing all of my return flights to get back to Vancouver next month. In the process of this, I’ve come across some very funny web content that I’d like to share.

In the process of trying to find out East Africa’s policies on carry on liquids, I found the FAQ section of Kenya Airway’s baggage information page.  FAQ #7 reads as follows…

7. What is Kenya Airways policy on carrying dangerous items?
It is possible to carry musical instruments in the cabin only if it is within the cabin baggage allowance which is 10Kgs.

I didn’t know dangerous items instinctively meant musical instruments, but that’s cool. I never did find any information on carry on liquids allowances.

Next, I needed to find out if there was anywhere in the Nairobi Airport that I could have dinner while I had a long layover in between flights. So after a stellar Google search, I found the Kenya Airport Authority’s website and clicked on the section for Airport Services and Facilities at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. There was a long list, so I’ll share the two golden ones.

The first thing listed was “Duty Free shots.”
Another winner on the list was “airport loungas.”
Restaurants were listed somewhere on there too.

I’ll see you in a few weeks, Canada.

The Canadian Connection

Out of strange coincidence, the NGO I work for here in Kenya receives its funding from a Canadian charity called Chalice. I was matched up with my NGO through an American organization called the Foundation for Sustainable Development, based on my education, resume, and experience in my field of work, and not because of my love for the great white north.

I didn’t know anything about the Canadian connection until I walked into the sponsorship office at Camp David. I saw a mixed Canadian and Kenyan flag on the wall and thought “oh, that’s weird to find here.” Then, I saw that on their walls they have children’s drawings on “happy Mr. Beaver” (who tells children to share as often as they can) and a map of Canada also drawn by a child that completely ignores any cities between Calgary and Winnipeg that might happen to exist (sorry Saskatchewan). I quickly started to look around and thought, “oh my gosh, this entire room is Canada-themed to extensive levels.”

I quickly saw a totem pole on a shelf that my coworkers explained a visiting sponsor from Squamish, BC brought over. Apparently, it was never understood what the object was, a totem pole they asked, what was that? I tried to explain as best as I could what a totem pole represented (holla First Nations Studies major coming into use) and I got a flow of funny statements and questions in return. One person said, “I thought it was scary and didn’t understand why it would be gifted to someone.” Another asked if such creatures existed in Canada that were hybrids of each other and all attached, like what the totem pole looked like. Immediately I knew, this was going to be a good time.

Everyone was stoked I was a Canadian. There are always a lot of Americans that come through the area but rarely a Canadian. I was able to explain hockey, why the Stanley Cup riots happened, why Stephen Harper is still our Prime Minister, Canadian geography, history (and where all of our first people went), and culture. Often I have been asked, “are there tribes in Canada?” In Kenya, there are 42 tribes and associations with certain tribes caused the 2007 post-election violence and still to this day is very visible Kenyan culture.

So basically, picture being on the other side of World Vision operations.. or Plan Canada.. or any of those late night commercials you see about sponsoring a child for less than a dollar a day in Africa. That’s where I am, on the other side of that commercial. I’m on the ground in a grassroots organization that receives that money and does something positive with it. I work in the office that receives the Christmas cards, for example, from the sponsors in Canada that are going to their matched sponsor child.

I can imagine anyone’s first instinct when they want to send a Christmas card from Canada to their sponsor child in Kenya, and that would be to send something Canadian with it.

Here is a good story illustrating that. At first, the social worker for the NGO doesn’t know why the sponsor mailed their sponsor child a napkin all the way to Africa. A napkin? Why a napkin? Luckily, I can explain that the napkin has maple leaves all over it, symbolizing Canada, and why the napkin was probably placed inside the card. To my coworkers, strange, but okay, that’s cool. Conclusion to the story; we now have a napkin hanging on our office wall.

It has been fun being able to see things received here in Kenya from Canada and I’m the only person who feels connected to it. Today we received Papermate pencils, we receive labels for all of our sponsor files on Staples brand adhesive sheets, and one of the sponsors for a child we sponsor is named “A&W.” Which is fun for me, because my little brother has been a cook at our local A&W throughout high school.

Thank you to everyone who sponsors children around the world through Chalice, I’m here as a Canadian by some weird chance, and I can say that the money is being used right and well. It makes a difference and I think all of your cards are wonderful. Especially the ones with photos of the sponsors back in Canada, those are my fav.


Something I didn’t expect to find in Kenya

Let me describe last night to you. A spin class, with a trainer named Vincent (who looks like an NBA star just chilling in Mombasa), that is about to start in my small gym on the north shore. I’m in a studio that is full of people who all come from very different places in the world as Vincent turns up the jams, turns down the lights, and starts sweating buckets before he even gets on his bike. This guy is intense.

So intense that I can list the number of people who can keep up with him at the same level in the class: 0. So intense that he can yell “beat it! push those glutes back!” to MJ’s Beat It (check out those italics) and still put fear into my heart that I’m not jacked enough to even be in the same room as him. So intense that he probably catches his own dinner.

It wasn’t meeting Vincent that I didn’t expect to get out of living in Kenya, it was the experience of getting to be in the same room as Vincent, in a spin class, and being able to keep up.To all my friends reading this, I totally agree, since when do I work out?

Last year, my small team in Totem Park had me pushing around House Lounge sofa chairs to try to build up my strength to be able to do a push up. That’s the type of physical fitness I had prior to hanging out with the Kenyan NBA star.

My mother never signed me up for sports as a child. When I asked to join the rowing team at the beginning of high school, she said no out of fear that I would get “man arms” and not find a husband. So, I made a personal goal this summer to get fit. I joined a gym, along with my friends Tess and Virginia, out in an area of Mombasa called Nyali where all of the all-inclusive resorts hang out.

Yeah, it’s kind of random. I came to Mombasa to work for a NGO doing development work for the summer and I end up at a gym with an NBA star for most nights of the week. I feel like I’m finally prepared to work in a Lululemon store now that I’ve got a good story (Kenya, man arms,  NBA star, push back those glutes), if I could ever hold the level of self control needed not to spend my entire pay on items in the store.

The best part is that now that I’ve taken the time to get started and really work at becoming physically fit, I feel like it’s going to be so much easier for me once I return to campus to keep it up. I’m already interested in finding a lunchtime spin class at the SRC, trying out one of the Lululemon in-store yoga classes (I’ve never had the time or the guts), and seeing if I can run farther than a few hundred metres at a time (thanks Hannah for putting up with me in your attempts to get me to run back in first year).

So yeah, working out in Mombasa, how proud are you Shelley L, Justin G, and Ryan A?
PS Ryan,  I’m drinking so much water.