Nepal Symposium – Thursday, September 24th

The Centre for India and South Asia Research, UBC Nepali Students Association and Institute of Asian Research invites you to:

”SYMPOSIUM ON NEPAL: Reconstruction and Regeneration After the Earthquake”

Join us for a discussion of Nepal’s experiences with relief and reconstruction after the devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015. Speakers will give brief presentations highlighting economic, engineering, linguistic and socio-political dimensions of earthquake response in Nepal,with a focus on Vancouver-linked initiatives.Followed by discussion and dialogue: Open floor. All are welcome

UBC Nepali Students Association will be selling homemade momos (Nepali dumplings) as a fundraiser for ongoing efforts in Nepal after the discussion. Kindly RSVP.

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Time: 4:00-7:00 pm
Location: Conference room #120
C.K. Choi Building, 1855 West Mall


Dr Tsering Shakya,Institute of Asian Research, UBC


Dr Bishnu Pandey, Civil Engineering, BCIT
Dr Sara Shneiderman, Anthropology and the Institute of Asian Research, UBC
Dr Ratna Shrestha, Economics, UBC and Nepali Heritage Charity Foundation (NHCF)
Dr Mark Turin, Anthropology and First Nations and Endangered Languages Program, UBC

Divergences and Convergences of India: China Contemporary Relations – Wednesday, September 30th Ahmad Zahir Faqiri is a former Diplomat for Afghanistan and is going to be delivering a lecture in Room 120 of the C.K Choi Building, 4pm to 5:30pm on Wednesday September 30th. This lecture will focus on the dynamics and driving factors of the China -Indian relationship are with particular focus on maritime security, economics, energyscourge of regional terrorism and bilateral dialogue. Since the 1962 China -Indian War, there have been competitive elements within the China-Indian relationship.

Prior to his official visit to Beijing Prime Minister Modi in a press briefing highlighted with confidence that “My visit to China would be a new Milestone for the entire Asia”, which begs the question: What does Modi really want to bring to Asia? Mr. Faqiri has thoroughly researched India’s relationship with China and would like to share his expertise.

This is a free and open lecture to the public, so please feel free to join us. No RSVP required.

Source: Institute of Asian Research UBC

Lakehead University mandates Indigenous content in all faculties

Lakehead University is moving to make it mandatory for all undergraduate students to take indigenous education.

Taken from

Starting in 2016, studies about indigenous people and issues will be incorporated into courses in every faculty on campus.

Yolanda Wanakamik with the office of aborginal initiatives LU
Yolanda Wanakamik with the office of aboriginal initatives at Lakehead calls the move to make indigenous studies mandatory, unique. (supplied)

Yolanda Wanakamik, co-ordinator of graduate and external relations with the office of aboriginal initiatives, said it’s part of the university’s over all strategic plan.

“The idea is that any student in an undergraduate program will graduate from Lakehead with one half credit having significant indigenous knowledge,” Wanakamik said.

Teaching tailored to each student

The teaching will reflect a student’s area of study. For example, Wanakamik explained,” in natural resource management at Lakehead you will have a lot of foresters graduating that are going to have to engage First Nations communities, so they will need to understand what treaties are.”

Wanakamik pointed to graduating engineers as well, who need to go north and would have to learn about where they are going and the culture of First Nations.

Beyond raising understanding of indigenous people, Wanakamik said the intent of making these kind of studies mandatory is to talk openly about the issue of racism.

“There will be conversations in the classroom. Most people will be talking about stereotypes people have about indigenous people in northwestern Ontario, in fact across Canada,” she said.

Wanakamik called the move towards mandatory indigenous education unique, with Lakehead in her estimation being the only Canadian university that has done this, so far.

As a a former aboriginal student at Lakehead herself, Wanakamik said she’s proud of what the university is doing.

“People have responded to it. People are excited. This is a boost for students.”

The UBC Graduate Students’ Society Present: International Celebration Night

Taken directly from the GSS website.
The Facebook event link can be found here

Date: Thursday, January 29, 2015
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: GSS Thea’s Lounge (6371 Crescent Road, Vancouver)
Tickets: $5 UBC grads, $10 UBC non-grads
or in-person at the GSS front desk

It’s a world of diversity! Join your GSS for a night of globe-trotting through the senses:

  • Savour ethnic cuisines from around the world
  • Watch videos that showcase cultures from across the globe
  • Challenge yourself with trivia questions and win a prize
  • Mingle with fellow students and celebrate diversity
  • Know a video that highlights your homeland? Email us links to videos from your home country that showcases the cultural aspects of it or portray its natural beauty.


Linguistic diversity at UBC – A Ubyssey Article

We all make assumptions about those that speak differently. Researchers refer to this phenomenon as linguistic profiling, or the identification of a person’s social characteristics, such as level of intelligence, based on aspects of their speech.


Taken directly from the Ubyssey (link here).

Letter: “I can’t understand my prof”: Linguistic diversity at UBC

By: Victoria Surtees

Around this time last semester, I stumbled upon a Ubyssey article listing reasons to drop a course. One reason in particular, “I can’t understand my prof,” evoked the many challenges of linguistic diversity at UBC. As a student here, I have heard many hurtful comments about the way instructors, profs and TAs speak, particularly about those who were not born in Canada. With the drop deadline approaching, I decided to see what the research said about why people sometimes react negatively to different ways of speaking. What I found was both interesting and practical. I share a condensed version of the findings here in the hope that students will take a step back and think next time they can’t understand a prof.

We all make assumptions about those that speak differently. Researchers refer to this phenomenon as linguistic profiling, or the identification of a person’s social characteristics, such as level of intelligence, based on aspects of their speech. In the university context, linguistic profiling often surfaces in the form of negative attitudes towards instructors who speak non-standard varieties of English (think Texan English or Chinese English). Raisler (1976), for example, found that 730 students rated lectures delivered by a prof with noticeable accents as less convincing than the same lecture delivered by a standard speaker. In a similar study, students rated exactly the same science lecture as more difficult to understand when played beside a photograph of an Asian man as opposed to a white man (Kang & Rubin, 2009). What this tells us is that when we don’t understand, it’s not always about the prof — our unconscious expectations and attitudes about what “good language” sounds like and who normally speaks it also play a role.

Recently, Kang, Rubin, Lindemann (2014) found that students’ ability to understand different accents was improved through critical discussion and exposure. With that in mind, here are a couple of practical tips to take away with you as you consider which courses to keep this semester.

Put your assumptions on hold: when you first saw your instructor, what did you expect? When they spoke, what did you think? Now put your ideas aside for a moment. Give you and your instructor the benefit of the doubt: they work at UBC because they are leaders in their field. You attend UBC because you’re an amazing student.

Remind yourself that it’s useful to understand other ways of speaking: learning to communicate effectively with a variety of English speakers is one way to tap into a vast transnational network. Viewed this way, linguistic diversity is not a burden, it is an additional opportunity that UBC provides. Take advantage!

InterculturalU: Call for Art Submissions

Are you passionate about ending discrimination and celebrating diversity using your art?

Join us! We are looking forward to all kinds of artwork : song, dance, drumming, photography, painting, sculpture, slam poetry, improv, stand-up comedy….

The UBC Equity Ambassadors will hold the third annual Intercultural U on March 21st in celebration of the International Day to End Racial Discrimination. We hope to promote intercultural understanding and connections between the rich variety of cultures on campus through an evening of art showcase.

Submit your form online by  January 19th, 2015!

If you would like more information, check out or contact us at

The UBC Graduate Students’ Society Presents: A Video Clip Competition

The UBC GSS is organizing an intercultural competition in order to encourage more sharing and communication between students form different culture and countries. The main idea is to invite students to make a short video about their country and culture.

Some themes include:
a) Nature, Cities (people and architecture) and Historical monuments/sites or

b) Traditional dances, Folklore dresses and outfits, traditional Food, Wedding ceremonies and National celebrations

All the submissions will be posted online for other people to view.

There will be a competition at the end to award the most viewed videos. Also, a social dinner will be held at the end of January to have all attendees to share their culture. Each team must have at least one UBC graduate student.

You can find the detail information about this project on the GSS webpage.

Why We Came Together: #UBC4Ferguson

Written by Blessing Falayi

UBC Vancouver vigil for Michael Brown. #UBC4Ferguson

UBC Vancouver vigil for Michael Brown. #UBC4Ferguson. Photo by Sheldon Lynn.

On Friday, November 28 2014, one hundred candles shone in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri, keeping vigil for murdered eighteen year old, Michael Brown. Though the vigil came into fruition just two days prior (the Facebook event only popping up on Wednesday night), the turnout was much greater than expected.

With Monday’s grand jury verdict still fresh in our minds, we came together angry, upset, saddened, and confused, but no longer silent. We wanted to do something. We wanted to show our support, we wanted to reach out, and we knew we could no longer be complicit. This is how this vigil came to be.

The main focus of this event was to honour Michael Brown, and we did so by keeping his family’s wish of four and a half minutes of silence. Candles were lit as students kept vigil by the fountain on Main Mall. These moments of silence represented the four and a half hours that Michael’s body lay on the street in the scorching summer heat. The last words of various Black men were called out to end the quietude, to remind us of the humanity of those who lost their lives at the hands of the police. To end the vigil, Ivan Leonce – the Colour Connected Against Racism Coordinator – performed “Caribbean Sun”, a poem that celebrates his Black heritage and honours the resilience of his ancestors.

At the end of the vigil, the main idea we wanted to emphasize is systemic racism. Although mainstream media continues to push themes revolving around police brutality, it is important to acknowledge there is more to the picture than these “random” acts of violence by individuals. Rather, we recognize that police brutality is the manifestation of a violent, oppressive, anti-black, and overall racist system.

Labeling the incident as a “colourblind” one would not only be a disservice to Michael Brown, but also to more Black lives that have been lost over the years. Our law enforcement reflects our society. It is far from infallible and we are still far from equity. By tiptoeing around the issue, we lose grasp of what is truly important.

Though some may claim that UBC Vancouver is a campus of relative apathy, this event is clear proof that it is not. The activist network at UBC is dedicated, strong, and admirable. We create a powerful discussion for students to come together and create change, whether it be the changing of minds or the changing of systems. UBC students are empathetic and they are only beginning to realize the extent of their power.

But why did people care about this specific event? I speculate that the reasons are endless. Perhaps it was the fact that an eighteen year old was killed. Mike was not much younger than most of us. He was unarmed and he was also Black. We understand that this is no coincidence. A no indictment verdict made absolutely no sense to us. Darren Wilson couldn’t even be brought to trial because of conflicting evidence? We’d like to ask, “Is that justice?”

We also understand that this is not an isolated incident. Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Tamir Rice, Kendrec McDade, Jonathan Ferrell, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Aiyana Jones; these are just a few Black people who have been killed by law enforcement officers in the last fifteen years. All of them unarmed. Twelve year-old Tamir Rice was only carrying a toy gun. Did he deserve to die? Again, this is no coincidence. This is an irrevocably flawed system and UBC students know this. We understand that this same system extends into Canada. We know we are not exempt. Our indigenous population suffers heinously at the hands of this same system. This is no coincidence.
We know that we can no longer be complicit. UBC students will continue to care and we will continue the conversation. We will continue to “fight the powers that be.”

A Visual on Privilege

This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege

With a recycling bin and some scrap paper.

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

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

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

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