Ode to Nexplanon

Ode to Nexplanon by Madeline Grove


⅛ inch-wide 4-centimeter-long plastic stick

stuck in my left tricep,

like a worm, a parasite under my skin.

Only, I’m the parasite, sucking out your hormones 

for three or five years

in a vigorous attempt to avoid 

dropping out of school and working at Chipotle, 

a child waiting at home.

It’s me, my partner, and you in my bed.

That third being whose magical powers

lower the drawbridge 

onto the raging moat of anxiety

as he enters my castle. 

What would I be without you? 

Oh mighty Nexplanon.

I am the castle whose walls 

withstand torrential monthly weather. 

The rain trickles down my freckled bricks.

My wooden frames expand, spilling over my waistband 

as I submit to the cursed cravings. 

The Persistently Miserable Shitty winds 

filter their way through the cracks in my stone, 

amplified by the fluctuating pressures 

of my swinging mood. 

I caress you in the shower. 

I stare at your invisible 

worm-like body in the bathroom mirror. 

My doctor told me you once 

traveled to a blood vessel 

in someone’s lung.



Authors Note

My relationship with birth control is highly dependent on the political community within the place I live. Birth control is both a tool for female empowerment and a privilege that is afforded to some depending on place. The power of place both within society and geographically influences the range of rights women have. Birth control also influences how women react within their environment with the many symptoms we are affected by and cannot escape.

About the Contributor

Madeline Grove (She/Her) was born 54 minutes after her twin in California in 2002 and grew up in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Currently, Maddi is working toward a combined major in Creative Writing and English at UBC Okanagan. She looks forward to having more work published in the future.

Image from Unsplash by Михаил Секацкий.

Chai Patti

NEED TITLE by Shiza Maqbool

Artist Statement

Her creative illustration showcases how she senses ‘place’ by representing her home nation of Pakistan. Her piece compiles key trends and symbols such as Kashmiri chai, truck-art and her native tongue which is Urdu. All of these are very well known in Pakistani culture so she wanted to choose a place that represented the ‘non-Canadian’ side of her. She chose Pakistan since it represents her ‘home away from home’ while being a place for her to connect to her cultural roots and learn from others. She uses her experiences to reveal the diversity of her country and tell its stories through her artwork.

About the Contributor

Shiza Maqbool dabbles in the visual arts in her free time while being a first-year Arts student at UBCO. She is a self-taught artist and has been drawing since the age of four.  Shiza hopes to become a Speech-Language Pathologist in the future while still pursuing art as a finely-tuned hobby.

Illustration by Shiza Maqbool

Graduate Schools: WEIRD, Powerful Places for Inclusive Research Practices

Graduate Schools: WEIRD, Powerful Places for Inclusive Research Practices by Martin Dammert


Research conducted in UBC Graduate School, and at neighbouring graduate schools, can be tremendously WEIRD.

And most students and faculty are not oblivious to this reality. Instead, university community members are regularly faced with clear signs and symptoms of grad life’s weirdness. Students and faculty are confronted, daily, by the dominance of weird research carried often by weird academics. But is the UBC community willing to continue fighting to overcome weirdness? Can graduate schools become powerful and influential places in this odyssey? 


In 2010, Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan (all UBC faculty at the time), published a seminal article discussing assumptions and implications of the oversampling of research participants from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies across behavioural sciences.

Overwhelmingly recruiting participants from WEIRD societies meant that findings were not representative of humanity, at all. Nonetheless, results, conclusions, and implications, solely based on “outliers” (see Footnote 1), were seen as the norm and often generalized to all when examining human development, behaviour, cognitions, and emotions. Disseminating an inaccurate representation of humanity’s diversity. 


Thirteen years later, in 2023, despite rising and well intentioned (but often isolated) efforts, academia and graduate schools continue to design, conduct, and publish research focusing mainly on WEIRD samples and societies. Despite a growing awareness around the significance of the diversification of samples, a review of all articles, for example, published in Evolution and Human Behavior journal between 2015 and 2020, collecting primary data, found that most abstracts did not acknowledge participants’ country of origin and that only 14% conducted research in small-scale societies (see Footnote 2) (Clark Barrett, 2020). To what extent could these results support a deeper understanding of evolution and human behaviour? If aiming to design and conduct studies to promote meaningful conversations around human behaviour, equity, diversity, and inclusion, it would be (and still is) important for researchers to “begin to take the difficult steps to building a broader, richer, and better-grounded understanding of our species” (Henrich et al., 2010, p. 83). And especially important for graduate students currently consolidating research skills and competencies who could potentially become prominent researchers while contributing to the development of their fields of study. Even if this decision should have been made thirteen years ago. 


Gaining greater awareness of the oversampling of WEIRD participants is key across graduate schools.

However, the time has also come to thoroughly reflect on the use of binary dichotomies when categorizing subpopulations. The time to encourage graduate students to reflect on the validity, power, and implications of the everyday use of these dichotomies (e.g., WEIRD (see Footnote 3) vs. non-WEIRD, Easterners vs. Westerners, and Global North vs. Global South, to name a few) in research aiming to understand human experience and change. The time to shed light on the particularities and uniqueness of individuals and groups of people around the world. Or even, to consider whether “the time has come to reimagine the future of sample diversity” (Ghai, 2021, p. 971). But, more importantly, the time to reflect on how a deeper awareness and understanding of this phenomenon can positively impact graduate students’ future orientation in academia, academic identity, and future practice in promoting inclusive and transparent research. And, hopefully, the time to question whether the application of these dichotomies in research and practice can cause more harm to participants, subpopulations, and academia than initially anticipated by ignoring the complex and intersectional nature of human beings. As echoed by Clancy and Davis (2019), “this acronym (…), while exposing the weirdness of the WEIRD, may also contribute to the erasure of multiple groups and, in doing so, reinforce rather than disrupt the practices it aims to critique” (p. 170). Subsequently, ignoring and neglecting the perspectives and experiences of minorities, glamourizing non-WEIRD participants in research, and assuming all WEIRD and non-WEIRD participants share homogenous backgrounds and experiences (Clancy & Davis, 2019), to name a few repercussions. 

Can graduate students become key actors in this odyssey and contribute to the diversification of research usually conducted with White samples and participants from G20 countries (See Footnotes 4 and 5)?

Are graduate schools powerful enough to steer the research wheel toward a more diverse and inclusive path? Definitely. But this is no easy task. As a Peruvian educational psychologist hoping to collaborate in the diversification of research in the field of motivation to achieve a holistic understanding of motivational dynamics across diverse socio-contextual settings, I continuously try (and often fail) to conduct research beyond traditional samples (Gurven, 2018). Despite a genuine interest, my research usually ends up employing students and teachers from urban areas who fall into medium or high socioeconomic status (a Peruvian privilege and not a representation of most students and teachers in my home country). Even if recruiting non-WEIRD participants from the Global South. Despite my efforts in learning about others’ lived experiences, the combination of access to potential participants (mainly recruited by convenience sampling techniques) and a lack of resources to go beyond traditional samples often hinder this initial desire. Reminding me, frequently, that interest and effort are never enough. That this goal is extremely challenging (and not very feasible) for most graduate students. That structural and system changes in graduate schools are still needed. 


But then, what is feasible for graduate students conducting research?

Although no magic bullet seems to be readily available for students embarking on this journey, the following recommendations would facilitate the transition of graduate schools (and students) in becoming more powerful and influential when combating WEIRD oversampling. Firstly, it is essential for graduate students to recruit samples which are best suited for their research purposes (whether WEIRD or not). And of course, to employ sampling techniques and recruitment strategies that acknowledge participants’ diversity and heterogeneity, when and if relevant. Secondly, graduate students should openly share detailed information regarding participants’ characteristics (when appropriate and acknowledging ethical implications) even if not formally required to do so when disseminating findings in publications or translating knowledge. Thirdly, graduate students should regularly examine their own assumptions and expectations, which can (and will) influence their research, to facilitate transparency and sincerity as a researcher (Levitt et al., 2018). A reflexive practice throughout research stages will encourage students to be thoughtful and mindful of how to select the study’s sample, how to recruit participants, and how to recognize the implications surrounding participants’ characteristics. Fourthly, graduate schools should encourage and fund research collaborations and partnerships between graduate students, non-WEIRD colleagues, and participants, who are usually not welcomed nor embraced by academia. Particularly, if hoping to take part in participatory approaches to research with (rather than on) participants. Lastly, if willing to embrace sample diversity in research and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of humanity, graduate students and graduate schools need to remember that this journey will be long and tedious. One in which students will have to go the extra mile even when navigating an array of roles and responsibilities (e.g., building connections, recruiting participants, translating and adapting instruments) if willing to avoid conducting research with oversampled groups of people. 


Research conducted in graduate schools can and is tremendously WEIRD. But it does not have to be. It should not be.

Especially, if aiming to conduct high-quality research to support people from all around the globe and nurture a new generation of researchers. A cohort of researchers (and possibly, future leaders) who recognize and value the importance of diversity in research while aiming to better comprehend human experience and change. Graduate schools have the power to evolve into powerful places for inclusive research practices. Places leading structural changes. Places where we all acknowledge and deeply support equity, diversity, and inclusion. Places where weirdness is not the norm. Where graduate students smoothly navigate weirdness. Places where diversity in research and practice is fully embraced. A powerful, rather than WEIRD, place for inclusive research practices. 

  1.  Henrich et al. (2010) describe WEIRD participants as “outliers” given that they can be found on “the tail-ends of distributions of psychological and behavioral phenomena” (p. 76).
  2.  For example, Hadza, Tsimane, Vanuatuan, Fijian.
  3.  See Ghai (2021), for a deeper discussion on why behavioural science should retire the WEIRD dichotomy.
  4.  Clancy and Davis (2019) argue that “WEIRD is just another way of saying white” (p. 173).
  5. “The Group of Twenty (G20) comprises 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, United Kingdom and United States) and the European Union. The G20 members represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population” (G20 Secretariat, 2023).

Clancy, K. B. H., & Davis, J. L. (2019). Soylent Is People, and WEIRD Is White: Biological Anthropology, Whiteness, and the Limits of the WEIRD. Annual Review of Anthropology, 48, 169-186. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102218- 011133 

Clark Barrett, H. (2020). Deciding what to observe: Thoughts for a post-WEIRD generation. Evolution and Human Behavior, 41(5), 445-453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.05.006

G20 Secretariat (2023, March 1). About G20. India’s G20 Presidency. https://www.g20.org/en/about-g20/ 

Ghai, S. (2021). It’s time to reimagine sample diversity and retire the WEIRD dichotomy. Nature Human Behaviour, 5(8), 971–972. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01175-9 

Gurven M. D. (2018). Broadening horizons: Sample diversity and socioecological theory are essential to the future of psychological science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America115(45), 11420–11427. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1720433115

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences33(2-3), 61–135. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152X

Levitt, H. M., Bamberg, M., Creswell, J. W., Frost, D. M., Josselson, R., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for qualitative primary, qualitative meta-analytic, and mixed methods research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report. American Psychologist, 73(1), 26–46. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000151

About the Contributor

Martin Dammert | Graduate Student | Human Development, Learning, and Culture Program | Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education | Faculty of Education | UBC Vancouver 

Educational psychologist with experience in research and teaching. His research interests include social perspectives of learning and teaching, motivational phenomena across educational settings and cultures, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Through his research, he hopes to support students’ and teachers’ learning, development, and well-being. 

Image by Martin Dammert

Self-Reflection and Mindfulness

Self-Reflection and Mindfulness by Jeremy Mandy


The utility of mindfulness in improving well-being has been a hot topic recently. “Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis” published in 2013 by the Clinical Psychology Review, reviewed a total of  209 studies looking at the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions, finding significant results for the improvement of three metrics; stress, depression, and anxiety. However, mindfulness is not restricted to supplementary treatment, it can also be a vehicle for deep introspection. Specifically, it can assist us in comprehending our positionality and how our diverse backgrounds influence our views on justice, diversity, and inclusion.


Personal identity is not an inherently essential component of being. Our identity is molded and shaped by the social, cultural, and historical events we experience during development. This fluid, multidimensional, quality of self-identity is referred to as positionality. These variables that constitute identity may include things such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Our positionality affects both how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us. Our attitudes, values, and views can be shaped by it, oftentimes without our knowledge.


Through meditation and mindfulness, we can become increasingly aware of our positionality and the implicit biases that color our perspectives. A central tenet of mindfulness is the practice of applying non-judgmental conscious awareness. This means consciously experiencing our internal thoughts and emotions without judgment or fear, which can be of great use when identifying and challenging our biases.


Mindfulness can help us promote our understanding of positionality and how

 our upbringing has influenced our worldviews on diversity and inclusivity.  It can also be an effective tool for introspection and personal development. The UBCO Meditating Mindful club offers a unique opportunity to develop these integral strong mindfulness techniques, as well as meet people with similar interests and aspirations.

Our goal as a club is to both teach mindfulness and foster an open accepting community for self-discovery and growth. For any who are interested, please feel free to learn more and hopefully join through our website: https://meditatingmindfulness.com/. We are very excited to meet all of you. Let’s start this transformative journey together.



Kabat-Zinn, J. (2015). mindfulness. Mindfulness, 6(6), 1481-1483. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0456-x

Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., Chapleau, M., Paquin, K., & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-771. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2013.05.005

Learn meditation & mindfulness at ubco club: Meditating mindfulness @ UBCO. Learn Meditation & Mindfulness at UBCO Club | Meditating Mindfulness @ UBCO. (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2023, from https://meditatingmindfulness.com/


About the Contributor

Jeremy Mandy is the president and founder of UBCO Meditating Mindfullness. He studies Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBCO. UBCO Meditating Mindfulness is a new student- lead UBCO club aiming to teach young adults of all backgrounds, about the versatility and practical applications of mindfulness practices in daily life. This club was founded by 3 UBCO students, Jeremy Mandy, Priyanka Chotaila, and Amrita Mosale, with the hopes to create a positive impact on the typically stress-filled lives of university students. The UBCO Meditating Mindfulness’s goal is to empower the youth to live more fulfilling and balanced lives by punctuating their daily experience with mindfulness. According to Dr. Kabat-Zinn, the leading pioneer for mindfulness practices in the West, Mindfulness can be summarized as the conscious awareness of the thoughts, emotions, and surroundings that constitute a subjective experience. By incorporating a non-judgmental outlook on the minute events of life, a deeper sense of appreciation and wonder can be cultivated.

Image created by Andre Fortes

RESPECT X Innovate, Design, Sustain

RESPECT X Innovate, Design, Sustain by Nancy (Jiayi) Lu

Do you remember the mountain you climbed as a kid, or miss the beach where you used to spend time with family and friends? Have you ever experienced the serenity of nature or felt the indescribable pull of a special place that fills you with awe and wonder? As we journey through life, we often leave behind the places we once knew and venture forth to explore new horizons. As we live in different lands, we are influenced by the places, surroundings, and nature. All the associations and learning from various places shape our unique souls. Our diversity is making an impact on our lands, but how can we make the place we are living in better and even more powerful?

As Victoria is very progressive with its recycling program, and since the culture in Victoria is to embrace the importance of recycling, it has been deeply ingrained in me since I was young.  For that reason, I was disappointed by the state of the recycling program at UBC, especially the lack of a focus on composting.  If UBC Okanagan promotes recycling by rolling out beautiful new signs and providing plenty of compost bins, this would in my mind contribute to the power of place by showing that UBCO is a place that respects and protects the environment.

— David Ollech


I recently captured the voices from the campus waste initiative (CWI) team, a student group within the Innovation, Design, Sustain club, which aims to “transform UBCO into the campus of tomorrow through sustainable innovation.”  A couple of students interpreted ‘power of place’ in regards to recycling policies.



Campus Waste Initiatives team, a group of eight undergraduate students, is one of the only teams on campus that aims to improve the sorting of waste items on campus. In order to reduce the contamination of recyclable and compostable items, this group made an effort to redesign the waste guiding posters to deliver an easy-to-understand guideline for students to sort waste on campus. It’s my pleasure to gain an insight into recycling policy on campus by talking to them. 

The phrase ‘power of place’ could contain different meanings for everyone, let’s explore how individuals interpret it and how they not only are influenced by places but also contributing to new places?


Ryan Smith, a member of the Campus Waste Initiatives (CWI) team, is a second-year undergraduate majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. He expressed: ” ‘power of place’ seems like how your environment shapes who you are and what we can do to shape that to better protect and care for our natural environment.”


“The perception of recycling policy in Portland Oregon Northwest Oregon shifted as I was growing up from putting whatever you can in the recycling to more focusing on contamination and trying to put the best things in the recycling although as usual laws are far behind that.” His recycling experience in his hometown made him environmentally conscious. When Ryan first came to UBCO, he found that the recycling policy was very different, and he heard about the term ‘returnable’ for the first time. He turned his learning experience into real-world practice by suggesting changing the term ‘returnable’ to ‘cans and bottles’ on the waste sorting guideline posters to make it clearer to those who were confused.”


Lakshay Karnwal studies computer science at UBCO, who is also the lead of CWI. “ ‘Power of place’ means the symbiotic relationship of trust, empathy, and growth within a community/place which makes a person unique from the residents around the world,” he further elaborated.


In his hometown of Mumbai, “waste sorting at the household level is not common compared to the standards in North America. Universities in India, as far as I know, do not have stringent recycling policies. Segregating waste into recyclable and non-recyclable is the only sorting you can observe, which is not common in the first place. In fact, one of the key issues for my city is the lack of garbage bins around busy places. Due to these differences, a student coming from my city might struggle to segregate waste on campus as it’s not common for us to do so.” However, he has learned and practiced the new recycling policies in his new place, and by engaging in the new waste sorting guideline design, he aims to “work on making campus segregation more effortless and effective” for people from all different places.


David Ollech is studying management at UBCO, he is also the co-lead of CWI. He described ‘power of place’ as “The positive effect one’s surroundings can have on their mood and attitude, from the way places are designed, lit, decorated, and maintained.” 


David elucidated the difference in recycling policies of his hometown and campus, “ The compost bins are green.  At UBC, they’re yellow.  In Victoria, we do not have to sort our bottles and cans into a separate bin. In Victoria, bottles, jars, and plastics are separated out, whereas at UBC they go into a mixed recycling that includes paper.  Lastly, in Victoria we are expected to wash our plastics before putting them in the bin.  At UBC, students aren’t expected to wash plastic and are encouraged to throw dirty plastic into the garbage.” He became aware of the contrasting recycling policies between the two places that held a significant place in his memories and associations. Taking this into consideration, he aimed to enhance the waste sorting guidelines for students on campus, making them more transparent and straightforward.


Proper recycling management has the power to significantly reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators, and ultimately mitigate the environmental damage caused by waste disposal. As we settle into a new place, we often appreciate the pristine cleanliness and natural beauty of our surroundings. But have we ever considered the small yet impactful changes we can make through recycling? By bringing our diverse perspectives and knowledge to a new place, we have the potential to improve or worsen its condition. However, through continuous learning and respect for our environment, we can work towards making it a better place for all. It’s up to us to take responsibility and make a positive impact on the world around us.


About the Contributor

The interview was conducted by Nancy (Jiayi) Lu who is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology in the Faculty of Science at UBC Okanagan. The interview features the perspectives of David Ollech, Ryan Smith, and Lakshay Karnwal, members of the Innovate, Design, Sustain club at UBC Okanagan.

Image provided by Nancy (Jiayi) Lu

Occupying Spaces/Places

Occupying Spaces/Places by Adishi Gupta

When I first saw the title of this issue ‘Power of Place’, I was intrigued to say the least. It felt like something I had thought about a lot and yet, there was also something elusive about it. Something it was hinting at, that I did not yet know. What struck me particularly was the use of the word ‘place’, which inadvertently made me think of the word ‘space’. But they were different words. Right?

I wasn’t entirely sure.

So I decided to look up exactly that. What is the difference between space and place?

I did not know it then but it turned out to be a delightful Google search because of one particular result from Oxford Bibliographies:

Space is often defined by an abstract scientific, mathematical, or measurable conception while place refers to the elaborated cultural meanings people invest in or attach to a specific site or locale.

(Lawrence-Zuniga, 2017)

As a woman, taking up space has never been my strong suit. When I talk, it feels like I am talking too much. When I sit, it feels like I am spreading too much. When I lie down, it feels like my body is taking up too much space. When I walk, I feel like I am constantly in other people’s way. When I exist, I feel like I am being too much. 

Learning to take up space has been a journey of finding my place in the world.

My move to Vancouver from New Delhi in 2021 meant a lot of things. One of the biggest being that I was going to be a first-time renter in an entirely new country. I became privy to Vancouver’s infamous housing woes even before I got here. I spent days and nights trying to find reasonable accommodation so that I would have somewhere to go after I landed. Fortunately enough, I did find a space that I moved into when I got here. 

At that time, if someone had told me that I would have lived in three houses with eight different people in less than a year, I would not have believed them. In fact, I would have thought they had no idea about the kind of person I am. As a particularly recluse and reserved person, it would have been completely impossible for me to have managed anything of that sort. 

And yet, it happened. 

All of it. 

In less than a year’s time, I went from living with three strangers in a house, to five others in student accommodations (rather abruptly, but that is an entire essay in itself) and now, finally with one other person. Amidst this constant catapulting, I became aware on more than one occasion of my discomfort with taking up space.

Am I being too loud in the kitchen? On the phone? Am I being in the living room for too long? Am I doing all house chores properly? When did I last buy communal cleaning supplies? Did I clean up after myself properly?

In one of the sessions with my therapist, she noted that I seem to be apologetic of my presence, like I am causing inconvenience just by being.

The temporariness of houses and housemates has meant constantly (re)adjusting to the dynamic of co-living depending on the sensibilities of the space and the people. Finding homes in houses has been an exercise in learning to see the beauty and find belongingness in that which is undeniably transient.

And thus a lesson in life itself.

Do some of us ever truly have a place in the world if the spaces we occupy are constantly folding in on themselves?



Lawrence-Zuniga, D. (2017). Space and place. Oxford Bibliographies. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/display/document/obo-9780199766567/obo-9780199766567-0170.xml#:~:text=Space%20is%20often%20defined%20by,a%20specific%20site%20or%20locale.

About the Contributor

Writer, editor and researcher by profession, Adishi is a graduate student in the Faculty of Education at UBC Vancouver. Her work largely revolves around critical theory and pedagogy with a focus on anti-oppressive frameworks from a feminist and anti-racist lens. When she is not working, you can find her chasing blue skies and flowers.

Images provided by Adishi Gupta

No Place Without Space

No Place Without Space by Lansana Nwosu

One of the most important things a person can do in life is figure out their purpose. The sense of direction and a clear vision of where you want to go makes the trials and tribulations of life slightly more bearable. As a young black man growing up in North America and having to start out my life in some of the most notoriously dangerous neighbourhoods in Canada, the odds of me making it out of that place were close to none. Growing up I always struggled to find my place. I always knew that I wanted to play in the NBA and had a deep love and devotion towards basketball. It did not take me long to realize that the decision would have a huge impact on which places I was able to be a part of. There was a constant push and pull of wanting to fit in and doing what everyone else was doing versus striving towards my goals and doing what I felt was right. Because of that I was always isolated, the odd man out, the loner, the ‘weird kid’. I rarely felt a sense of belonging in many places, but the one place I did find comfort in was with a basketball on the basketball court. Basketball is my place, it never changes, the ball bounces up and drops back down, I shoot it and it either goes in or it misses. Basketball never cared if I was sad, happy, angry, rich, poor, hungry, in love or heartbroken. It always stayed the same. It held its place when I was successful and everyone loved me and it held its place when I was down and struggling and everyone disappeared. Basketball has taken me all over the world to cities I never thought I’d be in, has let me meet people I never thought I’d meet, and has helped me grow more than I ever thought I would. Full scholarships, long-lasting friendships, and life lessons are just a few of the things basketball has given me. 



While you’re reading this you may be asking “what exactly does the love of basketball have to do with ‘place’?” My sense of place and belonging came with wherever basketball was willing to take me. I am forever grateful to be able to continue my journey and play professionally.It is a dream come true. To me, what is most significant about ‘place’ is having a deep comfort of knowing that you belong. We all have a yearning to find the place that we fit in the most, once you’re able to find it, it is like living in bliss. Fittingly, the ‘place’ I found through basketball,  The University of British Columbia Okanagan, a ‘place’ I never thought I’d be a part of, a ‘place’ where I had the opportunity to grow as a person, and a ‘place’ to truly find out who I am.



I chose the title “No Place Without Space” because I would have never found my ‘place’ if I wasn’t isolated based off my purpose. I had a lot of time to myself at the gym, on the basketball court, recovering, and watching film allowing me to focus on my goals. I missed out on get-togethers, parties, and social events. It seemed like I had no time for anything extra that wasn’t part of my goals. For that aspect of my life I am extremely grateful because growing up it was difficult, but as I got older I started to realize that the space gave me a sense of ‘place’. The space helped me weed out people that didn’t respect or want to be a part of my ‘place’, the space gave me a wider perspective on what mattered and what did not. The isolated, odd one out, “popular loner”, weird kid was one of the best blessings because it allowed me to reach my goals and now I’m striving for more. The space allowed me to play professional basketball and I hope that it will allow me to reach my ‘place’ of playing in the NBA. 


I’m grateful that UBCO was one of the ‘places’ I encountered in my journey because it gave me a perspective that I never would have gotten otherwise.



To end it off, I’d like to finish with a small poem:

“You may work through the day, but at the end, lay with grace

Because it’s about shooting your shot, not about the misses or makes 

You will face ups and downs, pushes and pulls, gives and takes 

But for hardship and frowns it’s important to get up and end with a smile on your face

If you fall down 7 times, dust yourself off and rise for an 8th 

Because life is a celebration and sometimes the struggle is the cake 

For the times life gives you twists and turns and forces you to bend, but you will not break 

This life is a marathon, left foot in front of the right, keep the pace and tie up your lace 

Because this is your race, and you get out of it what you make 

But through the tough times it gets better, always remember: “There is no ‘place’ without space”


About the Contributor

Born in Cairo, Egypt but grew up predominantly in Toronto and graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor of Arts: Art history. Went to Eastern Florida College and Kilgore College on a full scholarship for basketball, earning two state silver medals and a silver medal at the NJCAA National Tournament. Currently, he is playing professional basketball. Outside of basketball, he is involved in music, modeling, and acting. He was featured in Vancouver clothing brand Reigning Champ’s campaign with billboards shown in a variety of places including, but not limited to: Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, and Japan. He was also featured in many commercials nationally and even had an EP “The Born Prince” reach over 100,000 streams on Spotify by the name artist name “6K”. As a hobby, he founded a clothing brand, “6K” where 15% of profits help the less fortunate.

Image provided by Lansana Nwosu

My Lost Citadel/Mi Ciudadela Perdida

My Lost Citadel/Mi Ciudadela Perdida by Valeria Díaz Cuba

This is, undeniably, a majestic city. 

Standing on an elevated platform after countless stairs, 

sick from soroche, but satisfied,

my first instinct is to capture the moment. 


The view is better than edited pictures. 

The young mountain painted in deep dark greens, 

contrasts with the light tones of infinite platforms.

The green blend highlights dim grey rock structures 

keeping the city safe, imposing like the Puma.


A ceiling of white clouds hides the future rain 

and buries the city into its own secluded space. 

The clouds like protective wings of the Cóndor,

enveloping the mountain inside

a curtain of soft feathers.


A river that marks the borders is the Serpent 

that slides around its treasure and keeps the floor stable.

Underneath are stories of a distant past 

when the city was alive. 


The city is now asleep. 

His head lies over the high ground 

facing the sun in the day and the stars at night. 

A head without a body,



Around me, people pose for pictures, 

proud to face a wonder of the world. 

A city found in ruins

that once contained priceless treasures of the past. 


My picture only faced the landscape, 

it did not include me.

I am already there. 


Truth is, the city was never lost. 

It is still there, immovable, 

guarded by its gods.

Guiding our souls back to their lost identity.


All I know is that, watching the city from above, 

I felt complete.



This is a poem I wrote in my first year for a creative writing class. I made some small changes from then on, but the idea is something that is still important for me today. The task was to describe a picture of yourself through a poem, but I chose this place instead. Because, like I said at the end, this place felt personal, linked to my heritage. I wanted to describe a very famous place without saying its name directly, but instead linking it to my personal experience and identity within it. The first and only time I visited this place, although it is probably the most famous marker of my country, I felt a connection to it that I know is only possible because of my heritage. Like I mention in the poem, I felt complete, I felt identified with this place to an overwhelming extent. Standing on the platform in front of this majestic view made me feel things I do not know how to describe. In a way, it felt mine, this feeling.

I am Peruvian, and this place is Machu Picchu. It is often called “La Ciudadela Perdida,” translated to “The Lost Citadel.” I, however, decided to name the poem “My Lost Citadel,” to express how it connects directly to my sense of identity and heritage. I wanted to convey my feeling of belonging and connection to this place. It was my first time visiting, and yet it felt familiar. This place is a source of national pride for everyone around me, but standing there certainly felt different. It was the feeling of coming back home, even if the home is new to you. This feeling of overwhelming familiarity is something that has followed me around many tourist attractions in Peru, but this time it felt more intense. Maybe it is because of its magnitude, or its fame, or simply the magic that engulfed me as I stood on the platform to watch my favourite wonder of the world, but I think it all links back to what this place means to me, in its history and its symbolic presence.

The imagery includes cultural and mythological references that I had toexplain to my workshop peers when we revised our poems in class. “Soroche” is the Quechua word borrowed into Spanish that means something along the lines of “altitude sickness,” very common when visiting the Sierra of Peru. “Young mountain” is the translation of Huayna Picchu in Quechua, the name of the big mountain that stands out in the pictures, behind the city. Machu Picchu, or “old mountain,” is the smaller one where the city is built. Additionally, I mentioned three animals: the puma, the cóndor, and the serpent. These three animals represent the three spheres of the cosmos in Inca mythology: the world above (hanan pacha, represented by the condor), our world (kay pacha, represented by the puma), and the world below (uku pacha, represented by the serpent). Finally, the personification of the mountain as a “he,” when I said, “his head lies over the high ground,” is also intentional. Whenever we see pictures of Machu Picchu, and even when we visited that time, my father never fails to mention that Huayna Picchu looks like the sideways face, and he calls it “the Inca.” These small details were added to make the experience more personal to me and my thoughts while visiting this place.

Like I mentioned, I wanted to write a poem about a place as representative of my identity. Whenever someone mentions Machu Picchu, or any other tourist attraction in Peru, I get filled by a sense of pride. This is the place of my history, my heritage, and my lived experience. The country I grew up in and which shaped who I am. And visiting such an important place in my beloved country made me feel a certain connection to everything around me, from the mountain to the river and the clouds themselves. This place, in a sense, was me, however weird it may sound. But this is how I felt, standing there for the first time. There is magic in this place, as if I could feel the weight of its history.


About the Contributor

I am an International Student at UBCO, in my third year as a Cultural Studies Major. Connecting my major to my positionality and lived experience, I developed an interest in language, heritage, and neocolonial ideologies, especially surrounding my identity as a Peruvian woman.

Image by Valeria Díaz Cuba

Chaa Da Cup

Chaa Da Cup with Harnaaz Kaur Grewal

Vancouver-based Digital Marketing Agency and Think Tank Himmat Media teamed up with University of British Columbia – Okanagan Masters in Social Work Student, Harnaaz Kaur Grewal (Naaz), to launch a first-of-its-kind research project titled “Chaa Da Cup with Harnaaz Kaur Grewal.”

The research, conducted by Grewal – founder and project lead of the project, addresses key gaps in overall social systems that marginalise vulnerable populations such as women of colour. Specifically, this project addresses key gaps in the mental health services system and within cultural society for South Asian women and highlights the need for a model focused on action-based system reform.


Key takeaways from this study include:

  • South Asians are the largest visible minority in Canada and report one of the highest rates of anxiety among minorities – however, mental health programmes are maladaptive of creating effective counselling methods and practices that block access to mental health services.
  • A lack of cultural sensitivity and awareness are fundamental reasons why women of colour are less likely to receive counselling services. Systemic factors such as racial and gender based discrimination further stigmatise women of colour and create barriers to accessing services.
  • More women of colour must be included in programme inception, development and decision making processes when it comes to designing mental health services especially those centred around supporting IBPOC women.

Above all else this project allows for its readers to learn the intricacies and connections between race, gender, generational trauma and how they intersect to influence how racialized women in Canada navigate their day to day lives. To view the project in its entirety, please view Chaa Da Cup at the link here. Alternatively, you can download the media kit for this project, including its full press release at the link here.

We are looking forward to hearing from you and have high hopes that your organisation will help us amplify and action the recommendations and critical gaps addressed in this study. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

About the Contributor

Individuals tend to consider their immediate surroundings when reflecting on the physical environment. However, I believe one’s environment goes beyond the physical space and fosters a psychological connection that influences the ways in which we form our identities. The reciprocal relationship between one’s multifaceted identity with the physical place is embedded from the day we are born. As for me, I grew up in Surrey; a city where most of the population looked like me, acted like me and partook in the same activities, events, and festivities. My environment was a place of safety and security as it nourished a physical and psychological space where I could be myself without judgment or discrimination.


In 2012, I moved away from my family to the Interior, specifically Kelowna, and Vernon. While the physical space around me was similar to Surrey, the connection to the space felt disjointed and disconnected. The Interior had so much to offer, yet I felt unwelcomed. It took some time for me to acclimate to my new surroundings and community. Over time I started to find the comfort I yearned for by visiting the local Sikh gurdwaras (temples). As I began to attend South Asian and Western events, I found a balance between the comforts of my old “place” back home and the new one in the Interior. I saw more of these events be prevalent in the physical space around me and while there was increased acceptance, I continued to see a rise in hate towards South Asian dysphoria locally and nationally.


My place of origin nurtured strong cultural ties and helped shape my identity as a Sikh Punjabi woman. Sikhs are a collectivist community; when one person is hurting, the pain causes a ripple effect through the rest of the community. So, when I started to see a rise in hate towards my fellow South Asian brothers and sisters, I knew I needed to spring into action, and that is one of the reasons why Chaa da Cup with Harnaaz Kaur Grewal was created. I spoke with various South Asian women about their experiences with racism and sexism in their places of residence, and a pattern started to emerge. The physical space that surrounded the participants informed the ways in which they interacted with their community. Some came from larger cities where diversity was prevalent. Others came from smaller urban towns where they felt disconnected like I did when I first moved to the Interior. Prior to the conversations with the participants, I never considered how much power there is in “place”.


The Power of Place plays a role in determining the symbolic efficacy of a location. It can be both a space of freedom and public constraint, just as the women discussed in the project. It is also a space that fosters one’s formation of identity. Therefore, the public space is one in which members of society must come together to share and learn from one another, to grow despite our differences, and foster a welcoming and inclusive environment. Something as simple as a cup of tea with women from various parts of Canada helped do exactly that. In the future, I hope to continue creating a safe space through the Chaa da Cup platform and similar projects in which we can celebrate our differences in origin and amplify the voices of marginalized and equity-seeking populations.


Image retrieved from  https://himmat.media/chaa-da-cup

The Power of Place in Positionality

The Power of Place in Positionality by Kelly Grace Yuste

The place I stand and view everything from is a significant factor of how I understand the world — this is what ‘Power of Place’ means to me.

My understanding of it is inspired by Sebastian Conrad’s concept of positionality, an idea that is significant to learn about in terms of understanding subjects in a global context. Conrad contends that national histories are inevitably based on “axiomatic assumptions” influenced by local beliefs (Conrad, 2016, 162-163). Similarly, I believe that an individual’s worldview is heavily influenced by the people they grew up with and by the ‘place’ they grew up in.

To illuminate ‘Power of Place’: The cultural norms in the home I grew up in were a mold that I, along with my beliefs, etiquette, and behaviour, was shaped by.

The Philippines, my home, is a Catholic-dominated nation that is not yet open to certain progressive, inclusive, and diverse ideals we enjoy here in BC or Canada. 

When I was still settling into permanent life in BC, making connections and gaining experiences, I was faced with certain situations that made me realize I had to unlearn a few toxic habits and ideologies from the place I grew up in.

One significant example is that because most Filipinos are indoctrinated into the Christian/Catholic faith by their families, churches, and/or schools, my peers and I grew up in a box believing that the Christian god was the only real god and that the Christian reality was the only reality. From my positionality at the time, I viewed the world from a Christian perspective. But when I moved here to UBC Okanagan, I saw that everyone was living their own lives with their own different beliefs. Most people I’ve met do not care for a god. It was a subtle shock to me — there is so, so much life, diversity, and adventure outside of the religion I was indoctrinated to believe in. Realizing this made me feel like I was opening up the box I was trapped in and looking around to see what else thrived in the world. These people came from ‘places’ where either another religion dominated, or no religion at all dominated.

Moreover, since I personally understand that coming from my particular hometown gave me nuanced beliefs and behaviours, I can understand that some people have their own nuances shaped by the ‘places’ they come from.

I think that understanding where someone’s ‘place’ is (or was) supports an understanding for the way they act and think.

And when we start to learn the ‘Power of Place’, we start to learn how to accept and appreciate people coming from diverse ‘places’ and positionalities.


Conrad, Sebastian. (2016). What is Global History? Princeton University Press.

About the Image

I took this photograph by the Okanagan Lake. Looking at this photo, I tell myself that this is home. And it subtly surprises me, because I only moved here in the summer of 2021. I grew up in a totally different country. I suppose I wholly accept Kelowna as my home in an attempt to deconstruct the toxic habits of my past that formed in the Philippines. To me, Kelowna represents a break from the past and a new beginning. Sometimes, what you learn from your ‘place’ needs to be unlearned.

About the Contributor

Kelly Grace Yuste (she/her) is an Art History & Visual Culture student with Chinese and Filipino cultural roots. She is passionate about decentering subjects, people, and cultures from traditional nationalistic boundaries, informed by her global art history studies which give focus to cross-cultural connections and hybridities. She is currently the President of the Asian Student Association at UBCO, celebrating Asian culture on campus.

Image by Kelly Grace Yuste

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