Category Archives: Campus Corner

Apathy in politics: Case Study the UBCSUO election 2016.

suoAre elections really the best way of choosing representatives in leadership? Should there be a mandatory percentage turnout to make an election valid? These were the questions that came to mind when I pondered over the immediate past UBCSUO elections that were held in mid-March, which brings us to the theme of this article, apathy in student politics.

Most of us are guilty of it, myself included, failing to realize the extent to which our inconsideration affects our long term benefit. Across various electoral boards, the phrase, “it makes no difference”, is the excuse many give for their non participation. The belief that individual votes do not really count, in the grand scheme of things, is in itself detrimental to the concept of democracy.

What interested me the most about this particular election was the social media buzz which came with it. Yik Yak, a platform that has some ‘Twitter-esque’ features with an anonymous identity option, was the go to for many keyboard warriors. Refreshing the app every other hour, a plethora of different sentiment could be seen; from the good, to the bad to the ugly.  In some cases people advocated for change while others propagated hateful comments, but the most popular ‘Yaks’ were mainly attacks on the Student Union. The legitimacy of the union was questioned in multiple instances barring an allegedly rigged election, which I personally also found interesting.

The fact of the matter is, under 1,500 people voted. Less than 20% of our student body decided who runs our student union and this is an increase as opposed to the under 10% turnout in previous years. This real question of representation, because can we say the views of under 20% account for the full campus population? Can we truly say democracy is functional in this setting? Could the apathy be a sign that we need to work on building the credibility of our union so students actually feel the system works? I think so. I believe the union can do a lot more to show what they do and how they do it, so students know the importance of having a voice in campus affairs and the benefits of unionization. Also I believe campaigns where students can collaborate with the union to further the campus society and local talent in our small community can also help alleviate this issue.

I will end this piece with one of my favourite quotes from, in my view, one of America’s greatest Presidents:

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Syrian Relief Charity Gala

Everyone is aware of the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis that has unfolded as a result. We all have read about the plight of the refugees, the reluctance of some nations to embrace them and the willingness of some to welcome them. Seeing such tragedy makes many of us want to help in any way possible. But we often don’t have that opportunity because we cannot physically go there and help. However, an opportunity was created by the Syrian Charity Gala which was held on 10th March in Laurel Packinghouse in downtown Kelowna. The event was organized by Fatima Zahra Sentissi, in support with UBC Students Union Okanagan (UBCSUO) and International Programs and Services (IPS).

Fatima is a 4th year Management student from Morocco. When she read about all that was happening to Syrians, she wanted to do something to help. She approached Romey Jaswal of UBCSUO. Romey was leading a Syrian Medical Relief Drive, raising money to collect medical supplies to send to field hospitals in Syria. He had successfully collected over $20,000 in retail worth of medical supplies from different individuals and entities in Kelowna. Fatima wanted to contribute to this initiative. She came up with the idea of organizing a Syrian Relief Charity Gala, which would not only raise money through donations and ticket sales but also create more awareness about the situation.

With financial and logistical support from UBCSUO and IPS, Fatima put together the gala. On the night of March 10th, Laurel Packinghouse was packed with UBCO students and individuals from the Kelowna community, including the Mayor of Kelowna. Every individual who bought a ticket to the event or made a donation did so because it gave them the opportunity to finally help in this crisis.

The event included some phenomenal performances from UBCO students and clubs such as UBCO Beats, Asian Student Association, African-Carribbean Club, Nosa and Czarina. Two performances that were particularly moving were a spoken word poem and a presentation, both done by Syrian undergraduate students at UBCO.

The poetry was recited by Marya Atassi. Through her performance, Marya conveyed the bitter truth about how refugees are viewed as outcasts no matter where they are. She wanted to convey that the victims of the war are the refugees who have lost their homes, how they are human beings just like us and wanted to belong to a community just like us. Her words left an impact on the audience about how the struggle for refugees doesn’t end in just reaching a safe country. It continues with making the country their new home.

On the other hand, the presentation was done by Karam Alshelh, another UBCO undergraduate student. The room went dark. Karam used visuals and sounds and explained the stark reality of the Syrian civil war. He showed pictures of his hometown before the war; it had beautiful streets and houses. But when he showed the images of the same places after the war, it sent a shiver down everyone’s spine. To see the difference and hear from a person who has lived there about his beautiful definition of home and what it had turned to, the war became that much more real.

With over 200 people attending, the gala raised $2000 in ticket sales and $500 from donations. The money was contributed towards the Syrian Medical Relief Drive. This gala enabled UBCO students and the Kelowna community to unite and show that we stand with the Syrians. We might be far away from them but we wish the best for them and hope that there is a peaceful solution to the conflict.

International Women’s Day Interviews (Part 3)

International-Womens-Day1In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!


Dushun Wilson

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

The ability to fully embody their identity. Just, the ability to completely know what they are, and not take anyone else’s perception of themselves as they take their own

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mother is exceptional because she has been able to take on roles that I feel men would typically take on, without compromising her femininity and without being shoehorned into a role that people would call manly.


Vicky Medeia

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

I think that what makes someone exceptional is being strong, being able to keep going on when everyone and everything is trying to stop you and going against you, while being selfless; caring more about how it will affect others, than how it will affect you.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum. Last year my mum was diagnosed with cancer, and when she was diagnosed, she didn’t tell me because the first thing she thought was how I was going to feel guilty of not being able to be with her. So, she waited a while and let me know that everything was fine, that she was sick and getting treatment, and that everything would be fine. Even though I know she was sad and emotionally stressed and drained, she kept thinking about how I would take it. That for me is a very strong woman.

IMG_1217 2

Karlee Friesen 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

I think to be a remarkable woman is to be someone who stands up for what you believe in, someone who is confident, you don’t have to be confident all the time, but to do what you can with the resources that you have. Being yourself and knowing who you are.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

I have a lot of self-identified women role models. Especially since there’s so many amazing women out there in pop culture right now that are taking a stand and telling it how it is, and that is really awesome, because several years ago you wouldn’t have got that in popular culture. Now it is such a big topic, which is really good, as it brings forth so many opportunities for women especially young women, because they’re the ones seeing it the most on different media. It’s a really good time to be a woman! Even though there’s still progress to be made.


Murad Alnashef

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

A woman who I think is remarkable would be my mom. The reason being that my mom has been a very hard working, dedicated, loyal and ambitious woman. Reason why I think she’s remarkable is because she is basically selfless. Her goal in life was to raise me right and do what’s best for me. She raised me with a set of values that I’ll always carry on in my entire life. And even to this day what I am and what I’ll become will always be a result of what she has done for me.

International Women’s Day Interviews (Part 2)

International-Womens-Day1In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!


Joseph Khouri

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

What makes a woman special is the achievements and goals that she puts in her mind and actually achieves them, goes for it and doesn’t hesitate when it comes to it being difficult or out of her way. A woman’s courage in society will help bring about gender equality, especially in countries that are less developed and have that issue that bring their economy down thus women play a major role in the human cycle by raising children that are well educated and self-reliant.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

I think my sister would fit the characteristics I have given because she has come to Canada all by herself and she has been doing great, going to university, studying and getting the potential that she deserves. Living along for an Arab girl this is a big step in her life especially since there aren’t many people she can rely on being away from home.


Avery Bridge 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

Confidence, and being able to follow her dreams. Someone who isn’t held back by identities and by what someone should be.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum, because she is an engineer, and people told her she shouldn’t be an engineer because she was a girl, so yeah, I think it’s cool she did it anyways.

IMG_1225 2Jessica Sulz 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

To me, even in the face of adversity, when you stand up for what you believe in is something that makes a woman remarkable.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum. I know it’s pretty cliché and many people say that, but my mum to me is really remarkable because she was a police officer and when she was going into the police industry, there wasn’t many women in there. I think that’s really inspiring to me, that she did that anyway. She ended up being singled out because she was a woman, because she was able to get pregnant and take time off work, and she ended up losing her job, but she still took a stand against this. She is now a big advocate for women, she gets recognition from others.

IMG_1222 2Mary Song 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

What makes a woman exceptional would be the things that they have encountered in their lives and things that they have pushed through and fought for. A woman that I think that has both those qualities is my mother as she’s a residential school survivor. She’s been sober now for 13 years. This past year she’s overcome so many obstacles in regards to a different way of living, learning to be around people, learning how to talk about residential school, learning how to read about it without feeling too uncomfortable and pushing it away. Learning to understand and read where I come from being her daughter and the impact it’s had on my family. She’s just really inspired me to keep pushing, to move forward with helping other families heal and other individuals who are still suffering or else live with those impacts within their own communities or family structures


Drenched in Blood stained crimson,
Embellished in Gold plated armour,
Adorned in vibrant Green raffia,
I am none other than the Black star.

I am none other than mighty Senegambia,
A valiant warrior; Asantewaa of the Gold Coast.
The Ivory that is the horn of Africa,
A son of a land I’m proud, I boast.

Oh Mother Africa, have your offspring failed you?
Running off to America, in search of a dream …
… long turned nightmare.
Our forefathers who fought for our freedom,
Turn in their graves in disdain.
But our efforts, our efforts, they are not in vain.

Compton, Detroit, Kingston, Libreville.
Brothers are bound by their unending title,
Negro, Black, Coloured, African.
A struggle for identity crucially vital.

But I dream of an Africa,
One where we aren’t marred as charity cases,
But strong, resilient, happy faces.
One where we see ourselves as a unit, one people,
UBUNTU; I am because you are.

–  Nene Azu

Nzulezo: The world heritage site on stilts.

Nzulezo-1This December break, I had the pleasure of visiting  Nzulezo, a town on stilts, located in the Western Region of Ghana. Nzulezo directly translates to ‘on the water’ in Nzema, one of the major languages in Ghana.  To get to this town you need to take an hour’s ride on a canoe, through a river that leads to the settlement: a town of about 1500 -2000 people living on water, with the closest land 15-20 kilometres away.

“According to local legend, the village was built by a group of people from Oulata, a city of the ancient Ghana Empire and in present-day Mauritania, which came about from following a snail.” (Wikipedia, 2016) . The story was further verified by our tour guide and one of the local elders who met us and greeted us with their local drink, palm wine. He told of a time when his ancesntors had to migrate from their ancestral home in the great old Mali/Ghana empire located in the regions of current Mali/Gambia Senegal region. They were conquered by the Senegalese nation and thus chased away for fear of their return. They were led by a snail god, who advised them to make rafts and go into the river until they reached a place where he would advise them how to build.Nzulezo-3

What really got to me about this place was the ambience of happiness the villagers exuded. Walking in we were met by singing and warm welcomes as the people, who normally see foreigners come in, take pictures and enjoy the experience, were shocked to see other Ghanaians coming in to appreciate their way of life.
It gave me a breath of fresh air as I realized how distant we sometimes are from our own cultures, taking vacations and safaris to other parts of the world and not critically exploring our own surroundings.  Thus, I took a keen interest in the history behind this bewildering site and listened keenly to the local elders who shared in the history.

The people there have been there since the beginning of the 14th century. They have all social amenities including a clinic, a kindergarten and primary school, night clubs, a church, chop bars (local restaurants), a community centre and even guesthouses for visitors who want to spend the night. The people seemed very friendly and were insistent on taking photos with us and welcoming us to see their residences. They spoke at length on the medicinal herbs found around and the longevity they enjoy living off land, with most people living beyond the century mark.

I brought back some souvenirs from the site, which the United Nations has dubbed a World Heritage Site. The people have also been given some land close to the settlement by the government so they can farm. Some interesting images of baby canoes which the young ones who choose to go to the local school on land use, as well as the architectural plan they use to build on the river. All in all this was an amazing experience, seeing the different local wonders of the world which are not characteristically shown on mass media. If you get the chance to visit Nzulezo, don’t pass up on it!




Should I apologize on behalf of my country?

In today’s society one can not ignore the fact that there is still constant generalization amongst all types of different nationalities. More often than not I witness individuals having to prove themselves innocent despite not being accused of anything. On countless occasions I have witnessed students saddened by their country and feeling a need to apologize to people. I have witnessed students feeling a need to explain themselves for actions their country proceeded in.

“There was a terrorist engagement in Turkey, and now everyone thinks Turkey is involved in terrorism”

I’m sorry for my country

“Even 70 years later, the Holocaust is still a very real ordeal for older citizens ”

I’m sorry for my country

“I was in a discussion last week, where my Nepalese classmate told the group that people from India were randomly shooting Nepali citizens at the border”

I’m sorry for my country

“Donald Trump is making a huge appearance in the media today about his racist remarks, and now again America is being looked at as a racist and belittling country.”

I’m sorry for my country

“Rape is a serious widespread issue in India still.”

I’m sorry for my country

“I took my very first indigenous studies course at UBCO and didn’t know any basic knowledge about indigenous peoples prior to the class.”

I’m sorry for my country

“Britain launched airstrikes in Syria, now everyone thinks it was the country’s decision, when indeed in was just the government’s decision.”

I’m sorry for my country

These are just very few examples  of students expressing their apologies about the nation they are from or consider home.

Do we need to apologize?

There is a difference between apologizing for your country and being aware of what they have done – and whether it was right or wrong.

When one apologizes it gives the impression of guilt – as if the person were a part of the act committed.

However, in saying that, I am not one that is down playing any apology. It’s still a step in the right direction. But words are powerful and can alter opinions and interpretations.

Initially, I was looking through a certain lens going into this post but after turning this topic into a debate it really fostered my understanding in terms of why people say the things you they do.

In talking with other students, I’ve learned that the impulse to apologize is not only an internal struggle but an external one as well.

Perhaps people are what they are through their country’s or community’s actions as well as through their own individualism, which is why people are driven to apologize – or, perhaps, to take action against injustice. That could even mean to participate in a healing or recovery process.

We are shaped by our environment, which includes where we are from, the events or people impacts us, and the societal beliefs and decisions made around us. We are in some ways tied to what happens – even if we are not directly responsible.




Homosexuality, Moral Panic and Politicized Homophobia in Ghana – a public talk by Dr. Wisdom Tettey

Written by Stella Mozin, Maisha Maliha Badhon and Nene M. Azu


On January 22nd the Dean of Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Wisdom Tettey, gave a talk on ‘Homosexuality, Moral Panic, and Politicized Homophobia in Ghana’.  It was a very informative talk, giving the audience an insight into the way homosexuality is perceived in Ghana. If you were unable to attend, here is a synopsis of Dr. Tettey’s valid argument.

Homosexuality is an issue that is still seen as a taboo in many non-Westernized societies. Ghana can be seen to be one of such societies where certain sects of the society may “use homosexuality as a weapon to create unnecessary moral panic, feeding on homophobia”. Dr. Tettey explained how the very right to citizenship is eroded due to the categorization of homosexuals as ‘devils’,  that makes them ‘lesser citizens’ in the eyes of many .

This is reflected in the politicized nature of the subject. From what we heard, there are three main parties of the society that propagate homophobia: the media, politicians and moral leaders. Despite the constitution of Ghana dictating that everyone is equal in front of the law, homosexuals are seemingly discriminated. Ghanaian media sets the political agenda, amplifying homosexuality as a threat to the social order and implying that it needs immediate intervention. Dr Tettey highlighted that many politicians use it as a tool in politics to smear other politicians, by depicting them as supporting homosexuals which they then have to denounce. This furthers the propaganda of the media, and other agents who benefit from the constant vilification of homosexuals. Furthermore, religious leaders have often blamed homosexuality for the many problems people face in daily lives. A pastor was quoted saying,

“God of Heaven told him that the current rationing of electricity and the water shortage situation in the country was caused by the fact that some Ghanaians were tolerating homosexuals”

The talk gave an insight into the struggles of homosexuals in the country, which can be said to be very similar to the experiences of homosexuals in other societies that have not accepted them. However we can say that even in developed countries like the US, legalization of same sex marriage only happened recently in the year 2015, 200 years after their independence. Thus it is hopeful that in time progress can be made.

Susana Baez : Life After UBCO!

We recently caught up with Susana Baez, a former student  here who hails from Columbia, and interviewed her on life after UBC-O! During her time here, Susana was one of the most influential student leaders in her class. She continues to be a purpose driven young lady, brimming with confidence and taking Canada by storm. In this article we cover her experiences at UBC-O and what she’s been up to since she graduated from UBC – O in 2014.

  • How are you finding life after UBC-O? 
  • In terms of work and social life? Life in another Canadian city in general?  How was the transition from university life into working life?

I love this question because I used to always wonder about those students who had graduated already while I was still in school. I couldn’t wait to be done with school and start my life in the “real world.” Life after school seems exciting and full of adventures, but the reality of it is that this life after school also comes with many ups and downs. I loved my time at school and I felt like I took full advantage of every experience it offered. Now it has been a couple of years since I graduated and there are new and different exciting adventures and experiences that I am taking advantage of at the moment. Although every step has been worth it, it definitely came with a lot of hard work, sacrifice, solitude, and courage. I have been with the same company for about 2.5 years and still loving it! I love the people, the challenges and the rewards.

I left Kelowna about 6 months ago now and it was by far harder than I thought it would be. Kelowna had been my home ever since I arrived to Canada about 6 years ago. It felt like I was leaving all the memories, the friendships made and my second home. But I was ready for more! I am constantly craving new adventures and new challenges and trying to succeed in whatever I set my mind to. So far, Langley has been treating me well and it soon can be considered my other second home.unnamed

  • Did you find that certain skills you learnt at UBC are being applied in your workplace?

 Absolutely! Leaving the comfort of my home to become an independent student brought many challenges with it but rewarding ones! Best useful skill was probably learning how to cook decent meals (lol). After that I would say: doing my own laundry, smart spending, open mindedness, time management, working under pressure and teamwork. Open mindedness is a very cool one. I got to meet more people like myself who come from very far to get an education in Canada. I soon learned that Canadians are really nice too! These interactions made my university experience that much better and enhanced my overall outlook on life.

  • Were there any challenges you faced during your transition? If yes, how did you manage to deal with them?

There were times where I would start to doubt if I was doing the correct thing. Sometimes I even felt like I should probably quit, since being so far from family at times got really hard. No matter the distance, talking to my family and close friends makes these kinds of changes much more bearable. My family just always somehow helps me stay grounded and helps me keep a good head on my shoulders. They are 100% supportive of all my decisions and they know that me being far away from them is one of the many sacrifices I will have to make along the way in order to fulfill my dreams. Advice: Never loose touch of your loved ones! They will always be there for you no matter what.

  • You moved from Kelowna to Langley. Do you miss anything about Kelowna?

 Kelowna will remain that one special place that watched me grow from high school graduate to university graduate and working professional. I met very important people who I will stay friends with for the rest of my life and the memories I made are irreplaceable. Yes I will miss Kelowna but that doesn’t mean I’m never coming back! I love to visit a lot. Summers are the best in Kelowna!

  • It is a known fact that you were a student leader involved in many initiatives at UBC-O. Are there any that you’re still involved in? Are you now involved in anything new?

This was a key part in my personal development at school. Not only did it help me get out of my comfort zone, but also I met my life-long friends while being involved in so many cool initiatives! Work keeps me pretty busy so for now I am solely focused on advancing my career, but I would love to set some time to volunteering in an organization outside of work!

  • Do you have any advice for current students especially the first and final year students?

Your university experience is what you make of it. Everyone has a different story to how they spent their time at school. Just make sure that by the end of it you are able to look back and say, “I took full advantage of every opportunity that came my way and I am proud of how far I have come”.

Global Fest 2015: Celebrating Diversity, Embracing Differences.


This year’s annual celebration of Global Fest was a blast!
Every year it has gotten bigger & better and this year’s edition was the best one yet! The morning session began with a special opening address from the Vice Chancellor, Deborah Buzzard and the manager of the IPS office, Leah Sanford who spoke on the importance of the diversity on our campus and the opportunities they present to learn from the different cultures.


There were presentations from different countries and regions, with memorable mentions including Chilean music + tortilla chips, having your name written in Taiwanese and dishes from different Tanzania, Nepal & different parts of the world. Many people walking through the FIPKE building, students and staff alike, sampled dishes and listened to the students and staff who represented the 26 different countries  on showcase at the event.


Global Fest Night Performance


The night section begun with a poem from the Master of Ceremony of the event, yours truly, Nene Azu and was characterized by music and dance performances that from India, Iran,  Russia, Canada & China among many others. There were also  memorable performances from Sam & Eaton (rap) ,UBCO Beats(acapella) , the ASA and the Latin Dance Club(dance) who graced us with amazing dance performances.


Overall the event was a success and the International Programs and Services Community Animators did a spectacular job at putting it together. I believe the UBC community looks forward to more events like this as it embraces our diversity and celebrates diverse cultures.