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!

The Return of Music Monday

Music Monday, a weekly blog post I used to post during my first and second years of university is returning. There’s a purpose. Music Monday from now on will be used to feature music that reminds me of the west coast and Music Monday will soon form a collection of sounds from UBC that others can share in. I think if you are a perspective student, you may enjoy this.

Most of the sounds shared are coming from the folks at 100.5 The Peak, which is what I normally let stream from my computer while I’m studying.

This week I’m featuring Santa Fe off Beruit‘s new album that came out this year titled The Rip Tide. I like to think of Santa Fe as a pumped up twist on the Beruit classics I used to listen to in high school that were shared with me by a dear friend named Michael Tobin, who is someone I made a trip to Toronto to see the day before I moved to UBC in first year and is now at Ryerson for Radio and Television Arts. Basically, a pretty amazing dude who has always known the best music from the moment I met him. Fun fact: Tokyo Police Club comes from his home town (woah woahh blog name connections).

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PS. This is also the return of lots of new blog content for new and perspective students at UBC. Welcome back me.

I approve: New Ubyssey weekly videos and video content

This week, The Ubyssey, our campus paper, deserves to have the spotlight on them for their awesome new online video content. Big thumbs up for them. If you are a prospective UBC student or a new to UBC student, these videos will help you get that “real” look at campus you are looking for.

Here’s this week’s news update from The Ubyssey.

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Highlights: Dubstep noises, candid footage of our newspaper staff, and sweet edits that I wanna learn.


More from the paper… Engineers mix with science and start blowing stuff up!

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Highlights: The underwater explosion that made a water fountain freak out.


And lastly.. a time-lapse of the Imagine Day pep rally!

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Highlights: Those two girls sitting and talking for a long time on the red carpet. You know who I’m talking about.


Back on UBC Campus

& There are TWO awesome new UBC videos that will fill you with endless school spirit.

NUMBER ONE > Class of 2015 Imagine Day Pep Rally Video
Made by Alyssa Koehn, the person I am a mini version of. Spot me twice in the video.
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NUMBER TWO> 93 Things To Do Before You Graduate
Made by The Ubyssey, and it’s pretty amazing this year (kooodooosss).
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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.

Katika Kenya, Computers are drama couches.

It’s hard to describe what my summer has been like here in Kenya, which is partially why I have avoided blogging at all since May. It’s hard to completely explain the projects I’m working on (without making you read more than you’d want to) and It’s hard to explain the lifestyle that I’m enjoying here in Mombasa, all in a few hundred words or less. But most of all, I’ve avoided trying to put things into words because I have no idea how to explain in easy terms just how much fun living here is. [insert italtics and other normal html features in there as you see fit. I would do it for you if this computer could do that much.]

So I want to blog and I want to put something out there. Kenya’s pretty cool place, and there’s probably something I could say that would contribute to building the UBC experience (already, the greatest thing on earth). So please bare with me as I try to get back to my Tokyo Police Club in an Airport roots and producing content for this blog. So where to start? Well, my primary audience for this blog is new to UBC and prospective students, so whenever I write something here, I always try to think if there was one thing I really wanted to share with you, what that would be?

So I’ve thought of my one thing that I want to share. Everyday I make an effort to read the Globe and Mail online to keep connected to Canada. The article that really stuck out to me a few weeks ago was this one (and bare with me, I cannot hyperlink anything, so you are getting a long URL link to paste into your browser):

In short, it’s an article by Michael Ignatieff, who speaks to what our generation has become. I’ll copy the part that for me, is everything I see UBC as, and that is a community of students who know where the world is going and want to be out there “in the heart of the action.”

Dearest Iggy said,

“The next generation is quietly redefining what it means to be a Canadian. They’re ignoring the attack ads and the chatter from the schoolyard of Ottawa politics. So many of the young Canadians I meet want to be global citizens. They want to be expatriates. They want a life that includes a couple of years in Mumbai or Shanghai, a summer teaching English in Tanzania, a year or longer working for some company in South Korea.

Young Canadians know which way the world is going, and they want to be out there, at the heart of the action. They are thinking about what a good life looks like and they know a good life might take them beyond our borders. Some won’t come home again, but others will, because they realize being away made them more Canadian, not less.

If this is the way the world is going, and our identity is changing, then the job for the Canadians who stay behind will be to make sure our children do want to come home again.”

Maybe that kind of describes my summer better than a long blog post could. Even more, to me, it describes the students at UBC to me and it describes who I am as a person. Currently, I’m in Kenya for the summer and returning to UBC for a term before I take part in a Go Global exchange to Australia in term 2. I want to be out there where the action is, participating, going as many places as possible, and then when I come home I know UBC and Vancouver has become the place I want to go home to.

Maybe now that I’ve gotten started, I will blog more and share some stories before this summer is over. I do have to say, I am really excited to get back to UBC and spend another year in Totem Park. I’ve never felt more connected to a place before like I have to UBC and Vancouver (sorry Ontario).

Asante sana for coping with my URL link.