UBC NOW — 2015

December 14, 2015

Opera Warriors

Dr. Siyuan Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at UBC, recently traveled to Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, where the Shanxi Academy of Arts and its affiliated Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble are located, to learn more about the ensemble’s latest production. During his visit, Dr. Liu was impressed with the stories of the dancers’ “ingenuity and perseverance as well as their tremendous creativity and talent.”

We go behind-the-scenes with Dr. Liu to find out about his experience with the Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble and his upcoming lecture series to be held before the performances of Opera Warriors this coming January in Vancouver.

Q: How did you become involved with Opera Warriors?

The show’s promoters wanted someone from UBC who is familiar with Chinese performance to talk about the show before the performances. Since I teach and research Chinese theatre, I was asked get involved.

Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble

Photo credit: Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble

Q: As a specialist in Asian theatre in UBC’s Department of Theatre and Film, what insights will you be sharing with the audience during your lectures before the performances of Opera Warriors?

The play is a wonderful combination of Chinese “classical dance” and traditional theatre, specifically jingju or Beijing opera. As a performance genre, classical dance was created in the 1950s based on dance elements of traditional theatre and martial arts, with additional techniques and performance structures from ballet. As such, the form becomes a perfect vehicle for this play. It uses non-theatrical dance to perform the love intrigues of actors in a jingju troupe of the early 20th century, while showcasing a number of fantastic combat and acrobat scenes from well-known jingju plays. The play also depicts other aspects of theatre troupes of the era, including strenuous training routines and exquisite skill displays such as the extremely difficult performance of the qiao, which are small wooden stilts that imitate bound feet. The qiao performance on top of an armchair, accompanied by the spectacular long-sleeve dance, is one of the showstoppers in Act 2.

In my lecture I will definitely highlight these showstoppers, although I will also discuss how they are ingeniously integral to the plot development, resulting in dance drama that is both stunningly beautiful and fast paced.

Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble

Photo credit: Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble

Q: Would you encourage students to attend and if so, what would you expect them to take away from the experience?

I’ll indeed encourage my students to go see the play and ask them to focus on its depictions of Chinese theatre training, specifically its emphasis on dance and acrobatics. These physical elements are just as important as speech and singing in Chinese theatre, in contrast to the general emphasis in Western theatre on speech delivery over movement and dance.

Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble

Photo credit: Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble

Q: What is significant about Opera Warriorsin terms of its historical context, performance and production?

I want to emphasize two points about the play’s creative process.

The first is the close relationship between jingju and dance in this drama. The play is inspired by the memoir of Gai Jiaotian [1888-1971], one of the most famous jingju actors of the “military male” or wusheng role. It started in the 1990s when Gai’s grandson Zhang Shanlin, the best Gai-style actor of his generation, introduced the book to the play’s creator Xing Shimiao, one of the best-known choreographers in China.

In the early 2000s Xing recruited Hong Kong writer Pik-Wah Li, known as the scriptwriter for the film Farewell My Concubine which is also about the lives of jingju actors, to write the script for the play. Zhang Shanlin also served as the jingju coach for the play. This symbiotic relationship between jingju and dance has created both the core storyline and strikingly gorgeous dance scenes in the Opera Warriors production.

The second significant element about the production is its combination of top-notch choreographers/designers with faculty and students from Shanxi Art Institute’s Huajin Dance Company. Although only a decade old, the company has been nothing short of a miracle, having shocked China’s dance world in 2004 with its premiere dance drama Forbidden Fruit Under the Great Wall. As its second production, Opera Warriors premiered in 2011 and has since won the nation's highest professional arts accolade, the Wenhua Grand Prize and many other awards.

To find out more about Opera Warriors or to purchase tickets, please visit http://operawarriors.com/.

November 23, 2015

Cleaning UBC’s biggest skeleton

November 23, 2015

Setting the stage for Graduation

November 9, 2015

Ayesha S. Chaudhry and Rumee Ahmed: Academic Fellowships and Research Interests

Faculty of Arts professors, Ayesha S. Chaudhry and Rumee Ahmed are both scholars of Islamic studies at UBC. They have each been awarded competitive international academic fellowships: Dr. Chaudhry at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Dr. Ahmed at Stanford University’s Humanities Centre. As life partners whose research builds on their shared conversations, they hope to contribute to an improved religious literacy through their upcoming book projects. We caught up with them for coffee just prior to their departure for their U.S. fellowships.

October 26, 2015

Beat the flu! Get vaccinated. Join the resistance.

Flu Shot Clinic

July 20, 2015

Science at Sea

By Diane Hanano, Project Manager, Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, UBC Faculty of Science

Bay of Bengal

Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean. Photo by Sonja Storm

Sailing on a boat with 120 strangers and no land in sight for 2 months might be a nightmare for some, but for me it was a dream come true.

I have wanted to sail on the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific drilling ship that operates for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), ever since starting my MSc degree at UBC studying ocean island volcanoes like Hawaii. I now work for UBC’s Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research where I focus on science management, communications at outreach. So when the opportunity came up to apply to sail as an Education Officer on an upcoming IODP expedition, I jumped at the chance.

I boarded the ship in Singapore at the end of January and we set off through the Straight of Malacca, notorious for its history of piracy, to the Indian Ocean. We were drilling in almost 4 kilometers of water into the bottom of the Bay of Bengal where a massive deposit of sediments, called the Bengal Fan, has been slowly accumulating over the last ~40 million years. These sediments are eroded from the mighty Himalayas, the highest mountains on Earth. In the ship’s laboratories, the scientists uncovered clues hidden within the sediments to learn more about how mountains are built, destroyed and affect climate.

Sedimentology team meeting during shift cross-over

Sedimentology team meeting during shift cross-over. Photo by Tim Fulton (IODP/TAMU)

Scientists discuss sampling in the core lab

Scientists discuss sampling in the core lab. Photo by Petra Dekens

As an Education Officer, I had the exciting and challenging task of telling this story to audiences around the world through blogs, social media and live video broadcasts. The broadcasts were the highlight of my day (or should I say night, as I started my shift at midnight). In total we held 60 broadcasts with schools and museums in 17 different countries. Each one was a unique experience — what would the students be like, what would they ask? From the 4th graders in New Zealand, to the teenagers in Malaysia and the university students in Nepal, their eager participation and seemingly endless questions were a constant source of motivation.

Describing core for students during a live video broadcast

Describing core for students during a live video broadcast. Photo by Tim Fulton (IODP)

Live tour of the core receiving platform

Live tour of the core receiving platform. Photo by Lisa Strong

Life on board is hard work. Everyone works a 12-hour shift everyday for 60 days. Drill pipes need to be assembled, cores need to be retrieved, and sediments need to be described, sampled and analysed. But it wasn’t all work. During our time off, we’d watch the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets, compete in the ship’s pool tournament, and have movie nights. And we weren’t completely alone. Every now and then we would be visited by dolphins, squid, flying fish, and even a giant manta ray. Fishing boats from Sri Lanka also stopped by to say hello (and try to sell us fish).

Sunset over the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean

Sunset over the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean. Photo by Michael Weber

A giant oceanic manta ray pays us a visit

A giant oceanic manta ray pays us a visit. Photo by Wania Duleba

I’ve been home for almost 3 months now. Looking back, I realize how much I gained by participating in this expedition. Not a day went by when there wasn’t something new or interesting to learn. I got to interact with an amazing group of kind, funny, intelligent people who quickly became my friends. The best part? Probably knowing that I was making a difference and helping inspire over 3000 students. It was incredibly satisfying to read that students were “buzzing for ages afterwards” and still had “a zillion questions,” or that we have “launched a whole new crop of ocean scientists.” Who knows, maybe one day some of these students will sail on the JOIDES Resolution and help us discover more about this wonderful planet of ours.

Diane Hanano

Diane Hanano

View from the derrick of the JOIDES Resolution

View from the derrick of the JOIDES Resolution. Photo by Hannah Kastor

The JOIDES Resolution departing Honolulu, Hawaii

The JOIDES Resolution departing Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by William Crawford (IODP/TAMU)

Letters from the River

Ngaio Hotte and Harry Nelson

About Letters from the River

Their first date was in a canoe so it is no surprise Ngaio Hotte, a Resource Economist at UBC and Harry Nelson, an assistant professor in the UBC Faculty of Forestry are taking to the river this summer before they get married in September. A longtime dream of Hotte’s, their journey begins in the Rocky Mountains along the Bow River on the outskirts of Lake Louise before passing through Banff and Calgary, then out the open Prairies. Their route will pass by small towns and cities including Medicine Hat, Fort Qu’Appelle, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg before ending in Kenora, Ontario in late August.

Follow their incredible journey over the summer as they post letters from the river. For day-to-day adventures on the river, follow Ngaio Hotte on Twitter.

Chapter 2: We knew when we started this trip that there would be highs and lows, but we never expected that they would come so early on. What a roller coaster this week has been.

July 6, 2015

We first put our paddles in the water at Lake Louise just over a week ago. From there, we had a leisurely float down the Bow River past Castle Junction to Johnston Creek canoe campground, then on to Banff the following day. The Banff town site materialized suddenly, as if out of nowhere in the middle of the mountains. Our first portage of the trip, around Bow Falls, went smoothly, despite one of our water jugs rolling into the river and another being stolen from beside the pathway. From our map, we had expected to find a campground on the outskirts of town, but when we saw none we decided to paddle on to Bow River Campground just past Canmore. We followed the river along below the Three Sisters and Ha Ling Peak, illuminated in the twilight, and arrived at the campground just as night began to fall. The campground was full, but a friendly couple allowed us to squat on the edge of their site for the night.

We awoke the next morning expecting that our day would be occupied by a long, painful portage around the Bearspaw, Kananaskis and Horseshoe Dams. Fate had other plans.

We put into the water after a lazy breakfast and floated along, reaching a fork in the river about a kilometer downstream from the campsite. We agreed that the right side of the fork looked like the correct route to follow. We swung around toward the outside of the fork to avoid a fallen tree in the river; what we didn't notice was that the current was carrying us toward another tree jutting out from the left side of the riverbank.

We paddled hard to avoid it, but not hard enough. The tree caught Harry in the stomach and stopped the boat dead. Realizing we were in trouble, Harry tipped backward out of the canoe, hoping that would free it. It didn't.

Ngaio Hotte and Harry Nelson

The canoe had become trapped on another branch. Harry watched helplessly from the water as the boat slowly listed to one side and flipped over, dumping Abby, our dog, and I into the frigid water.

I bobbed to the surface and looked around for Abby, but couldn't see her. I quickly realized that she must be trapped under the boat. Screaming to Harry, I frantically tried to grab the bow of the boat and drag it toward shore, but the boat was heavy and the current was strong. Harry, much taller than I, swam underneath the boat and found that he could reach the river bottom. Grabbing the gunnel of canoe, he pushed up hard and managed to flip the boat right-side up.

I watched Abby bob out from beneath the boat, looking scared but unhurt. Knowing that we needed to regain control of the canoe, I pushed myself up out of the water and back into the heavy boat. That I was able to do this from the side, without the canoe tipping, speaks to how heavy the canoe was when fully loaded with our gear. Once in the canoe, however, I could see that our situation was about to become much worse: ahead of us was a large logjam, stretching most of the way across the river.

Seeing that Abby was unable to climb up out of the water on her own, Harry hoisted her up onto a nearby log before swimming back toward me and the canoe. I tried to paddle away from the logs, but it was no use. Once again, the canoe became trapped against a log. This time, however, water began to rush in over the sides. As the canoe swamped, I fell out again and was carried downstream toward another part of the logjam.

I remembered the advice I had learned about logjams during my training as a raft guide: approach feet first and then push yourself up and on top of the logs. Fortunately, I avoided any sharp branches and climbed out of the water unhurt. Harry was washed up onto the other side of the same logjam. Quickly but cautiously, we began removing what gear we could from the canoe and lifting it to safety on logs while the water rushed through the branches below. Once we had salvaged everything we could, Harry worked on trying to dislodge the canoe. With the current pushing hard against it, there was little he could do.

Once we realized that Harry would not be able to get the canoe unstuck on his own, we decided to call for help. We were trapped in the middle of the river, with freezing cold water flooding through the trees all around us. Luckily, the dry bag with our valuables, including my cell phone, had been accessible and we had strong cellular reception. I phoned 911 and was patched through to the dispatcher in Canmore, who contacted Alberta Public Safety in Kananaskis. Again, we were lucky, because we were able to change into dry clothes and keep warm while we waited. The rescue boat arrived in less than 30 minutes and plucked us all out of the dangerous situation.

We lost our canoe, tent and gear barrel, but we were lucky to make it out alive. We spent the next several days staying with friends in Calgary while we worked with locals, guides from Canadian Rockies Rafting and Canmore Fire Rescue to see if any more of our gear could be retrieved. Several people went out to the logjam but the water was still too high to get close enough to the canoe.

When we finally accepted that it could be a very long time before we got our canoe and the rest of our gear back, if ever, we began to collect borrowed and donated gear from some of the many people who offered to help us out. I started out feeling pretty low as we began the re-grouping effort. After all, this trip has been my dream for many years: this is not the way I had envisioned it unfolding. But as we met up with one person after another, their encouragement began to lift my spirits.

Finally, the night before we were scheduled to get back on the river, we made a trip to Mountain Equipment Co-op for some supplies. As I stood in the emergency supplies section, I looked up at a fellow who was entering the checkout line and was stuck with amazement: there, in front of me, stood my canoeing idol, Karsten Heuer. Karsten and his wife, Leanne Allison, made a documentary about their own canoe trip across Canada, which retraced the footsteps of Canadian author Farley Mowat. That he would appear before me the night before we restart our journey after a major setback was nothing short of incredible.

I told Karsten the story of our journey and our accident. He was familiar with the stretch of river where it had happened and supportive of our continuing. I wrote down his email address and promised to send him updates.

Yesterday, nearly a week after the accident, we made it back onto the river. We were all still a bit shaken, but nevertheless eager to continue on our journey. Geoff MacDonald, who completed his own journey across Canada by canoe with his wife Pam just two years ago, loaned us his canoe and saw us off at the river. It was a fitting end to our week: to begin our journey anew with the support and well wishes of other dedicated Canadian paddlers. We are looking forward to what adventures lie ahead.

Special thanks to Jess and her crew at Canadian Rockies Rafting, Steve Westlake from Canmore Fire Rescue, Dan van Hout and Geoff MacDonald for helping us out and to Tavis Ford for putting us up for the duration of our stay in Calgary.

Ngaio Hotte, MFRE, P.Biol
Resource Economist & Facilitator

Chapter 1: All our bags are packed; we’re ready to go

June 10, 2015

Preparing, mapping, and packing

This is it: the last day before we leave for our cross-country canoe trip.

We’re here in Alberta staying with Harry’s family. Tomorrow, his mother will drive us down to Lake Louise and drop us off east of the town site at a spot along the Bow River where we’ll put the canoe in the water and begin our journey!

Looking back from this point, preparing for both the trip and the wedding was even more work than either of us had imagined. Would we do it differently if we could? Absolutely not.

The most difficult part of the trip planning was preparing the food and supplies to be mailed to our re-stocking locations. (Luckily for me, this was Harry’s job!) Once we had mapped out the stops along our route based on an estimated 40 kilometers of paddling per day, we made a schedule of where and when we will pass through towns and what types of supplies are available. We noted a couple of locations that will be the last stops before several daylong stretches with no access to towns or grocery stores. In the prairies, many of the towns marked on the map are ghost towns, with no shops, houses or any inhabitants at all!

Ngaio Hotte and Harry Nelson

We prepared two packages: the first, we mailed to our friends’ house in Calgary, Alberta; the second, to Douglas Provincial Park, Saskatchewan. Since these packages will contain all of our supplies for up to twelve days, we had to make sure they contained all the important things we will need, like meals (including dog food!), sunscreen, bug spray and soap. Did we remember it all? We’ll find out when we get there!

Luckily, during the first week of our trip we will pass through Banff, Canmore, Cochrane and Calgary, so if we have forgotten anything important we can make a stop in town and go to a store. By the time we get past Calgary and out into the open prairies, we should have everything we need.

Harry and I have allowed ourselves a few small indulgences for the trip: I’ve packed three waterproof journals and pencils, Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven and a tiny guitar I picked up for $5 at a thrift shop. Harry has chosen to bring a sketchpad and pencils, Hugh Brody’s Maps and Dreams and a fishing rod. We’ll share joint custody of a brand new hackey sack, though, neither of us has played in several years. I’m told that Harry has packed a few treats and surprises in the re-supply boxes as well.

Before we get on the river tomorrow, we’ll treat ourselves to some scoop ice cream in Lake Louise. It’s the little things we’ll miss the most.

Ngaio Hotte and Harry Nelson

If you could only choose three things to bring on a two-and-a-half month long canoe trip, what would they be?

Ngaio Hotte, MFRE, P.Biol
Resource Economist & Facilitator

June 1, 2015

HIRAndthere — My First Earthquake

A video blog series featuring Ryan Hirakada

In week 2 of my Japan adventure, I experience my first earthquake, try to meet a friend at the busiest train station in the world, and struggle to navigate the streets in my city.

May 22, 2015

A Gown To Fit All Ages

Margaret Brown Margaret Brown graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1923. She likely stood out in the midst of her younger classmates at the time: Margaret had a full head of grey hair, was forty-one years old, a widow and parent to five children. Margaret had been forced to delay her education several times despite having saved for it. She had been employed as a schoolteacher but hardships had forced her to spend her educational savings on the necessities of life. In the write up from the Totem yearbook of 1922, Margaret’s determination and drive are humorously revealed:

“Perhaps it is the rapidity of speech which, saving five minutes out of every ten, enables her to care for a family, get first-class marks, and have enough time to make friends. Mrs. Brown has a gift for repartee. We wonder what she said to the traffic-cop when he had the nerve to try to keep her from a nine o’clock lecture the other day.”

Described later in the Spring issue of the UBC Alumni Chronicle of 1962 as a “Granny Graduate”, Margaret nevertheless set in motion a family tradition that is being carried on by her great granddaughter, Catherine Fergusson, who is now graduating from UBC with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Asked whether a desire to learn is in her family genes, Fergusson says that she comes from a family of scholars and was “raised to value education for education’s sake and not as a means to a particular end.” She sees education as a form of empowerment and enlightenment: “It’s a gift that enriches one’s own life and the lives of those one loves.”

Each of Margaret’s (known as Nonie to her family) descendants that went on to graduate from university has worn her UBC graduation gown and had their name inscribed in yellow on a royal blue sash that is now double-sided with names. “It's a deep honour,” says Fergusson. “I think it's incredible that one silk sash can encapsulate the hard work, love, tears, pain, risk, and monumental pride of so many individuals who made their journey into education and adulthood.”

Siân Risk, a professor of English at UBC, and mother to Catherine, says that it is her great aunt-in-law that handles the complex process of getting the gown and embroidery arranged for soon-to-be-graduates in the family. After Catherine’s graduation the robe will be whisked off to Kingston, Ontario where Catherine’s cousin Kathleen will wear it at Queen’s University when she graduates.


Catherine Fergusson

Catherine Fergusson, B.F.A in Theatre

“If I could go back in time and talk to my great great grandmother, I would inform her of the term “badass” and tell her she basically invented it.”

Fergusson cites her great grandmother’s courage as inspiration not only to herself but “generations of my family, and I aspired to approach my own life with that same level of courage.”

Margaret’s legacy lives on at UBC and not just in historical records—as one of the students on the Great Trek, her spirit embodies the UBC Motto, Tuum Est, meaning ‘It is yours’ and serves as inspiration to all those seeking to improve their lives through education. As long as members of the family continue to come to UBC, there will be another embroidered name added to the row with ‘UBC’ beside it.

May 21, 2015

HIRAndthere — First Impressions of Japan

A video blog series featuring Ryan Hirakada

May 15, 2015

There and Back Again, a UBC Grad’s Tale

When I think about graduation quickly approaching, one word comes into mind: uncertainty.

Maybe anxious. And precarious. Insecure too?

Okay, many words cross my mind, but you get the idea. Many of you soon-to-be grads are surely feeling the same to a degree, and if you’re not, you may in the next couple of years. It’s almost inevitable because for the first time in 17 years (more or less), many of us will relinquish our student status.

There and Back Again, a UBC Grad's Tale
There and Back Again, a UBC Grad's Tale
There and Back Again, a UBC Grad's Tale
There and Back Again, a UBC Grad’s Tale

As I look back on the last five years of my life, I can recount a basketful of memories that truly define why these five years, were the best years. From playing sports in intramural leagues to the late night dorm room chats, to Block Parties, and from up and down the Wreck Beach stairs, I was able to pursue the hobbies that I already loved at UBC, and had the best time doing so! But these are not the memories that come to mind first when I think about my entire undergrad experience.

The memories that I hold closest and dearest all contain moments of difficulty, doubt, and obstacles. These moments were rarely comfortable, unlike pursuing all the hobbies that I was familiar with.

I successfully campaigned to be House President as a first year student, with no previous knowledge of the position or life in residence. I became a Residence Advisor in second year amidst a time of overwhelming personal and mental health challenges. But both of these moments brought upon irreplaceable and unconditional friendships, laying the relational foundation for the rest of my UBC journey.

There and Back Again, a UBC Grad’s Tale

Through International Service Learning, I worked on HIV projects in Swaziland for three months and lived with a host family, all while situated alone. With no prior experience of solo traveling or cross-cultural navigation, I doubted that my grit and resilience could overcome precarious situations. But this experience was the moment in my undergrad when I discovered my true passions, and it paved the direction of my degree.

When I accepted my first Co-op placement in cancer research, I was insecure about my skills and feared incompetency. And indeed, I made many mistakes but I also had the opportunity to contribute to healthcare research aimed to improve cancer prognosis.

There and Back Again, a UBC Grad’s Tale

When I signed up for Storm the Wall Ironwoman this past year, I wasn’t certain I could even swim any laps. But when I got over the wall, I realized that the friends I had made over these 5 years would always be with me, every leg of life’s race to help me achieve my goals.

Climbing the mountain of challenges and breaking my comfort bubble produced the most rewarding, meaningful, and gratifying memories. In fact, these moments in my five years at UBC made me a risk taker, an adventurer, a scholar, and a pathfinder. Graduation is simply another one of these moments. So alongside all the uncertainty, I’m also beyond ecstatic to see mine and every grad’s growth and potential in the next chapter.

As Bilbo would say, “I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.”

— Tina Gao

May 8, 2015

Destination UBC 2015

2,000 future students from across Canada to attend the greatest on-campus recruitment event of all

For prospective students, choosing the right university is about finding the perfect fit. UBC’s Student Recruitment and Advising team know from experience that nothing has a greater impact on a student’s decision to come to UBC than a visit to campus, especially if they make meaningful connections with current students. Of all on-campus events, the biggest is Destination UBC: every admitted student in Canada is invited to attend a full-day informational event, with all travel costs covered. This year over 1,500 students from across the country are descending on UBC’s Vancouver campus (Saturday, May 23), and over 500 on the Okanagan campus (Saturday, May 9), to experience first-hand what life at UBC will really be like.

Destination UBC is also an opportunity for our current students to share what they love about UBC. Over 175 chaperones and student volunteers on both campuses help plan, supervise, shuttle people around campus, and run social activities (trail rides, live music, improv events) over the two weekends. These students’ spirit and energy are at the heart of the event and are often the first face attendees will see as they land at the airport, board a charter bus, or arrive on campus. Many volunteers attended Destination UBC last year as high school students and credit Destination UBC as the pivotal reason for choosing to live and learn at UBC.

It is an exciting and overwhelming time for newly admitted students; ahead of them lays a new direction that is yet unknown and full of uncertainty. Destination UBC allows students to create friendships with their future classmates and make meaningful connections with their faculties — months before they arrive on campus in September.

By the end of Destination UBC, prospective students should be able to determine whether UBC is the right fit for them. They will gain a sense of belonging within the UBC community and have all the tools and resources necessary to make this important life transition as smooth as possible.

Follow along on Instagram with #DestinationUBC!

What Students had to say about Destination 2014

“I would not have even considered accepting my offer to UBC if it wasn’t for Destination UBC.”

“I was inspired by the emphasis [Destination UBC] put on learning and not just ‘getting a degree’ because it got me excited for so much more than the academic spectrum and to grow as a person and become part of the UBC community.”

Join other admitted students from across Canada at Destination UBC.

May 4, 2015

Garden Tips from Tamara Litke, UBC Botanical Garden

Garden Garden Garden

1. Decide what kind of garden you’d like to have

Do you want to beautify your porch or grow a pumpkin for Halloween? Do you want to have a perennial plant year after year or are you happy with an annual plant for just this season? Plan for resilient gardens that consider water conservation, sustainable soil management, native plants and biodiversity. Start with realistic goals so that you can enjoy your successes.

2. Know your location

How many hours of direct sunlight do you receive? Vegetables require 6 hours of full sun to mature. Plants that like shade don’t need as much water. Are you growing on a concrete balcony? Summers can be dry — you’ll have to ask a friend to water if you go on vacation. Great Plant Picks is an excellent resource for selecting ornamental plants for your specific conditions.

3. Consider your soil

Did you know that 2015 is the UN International Year of Soil? Soils are also important ecosystems for storing carbon from the atmosphere. Dig down and get a feel for what you’re growing in. Soil needs the right combination of organic matter and structure. If you take care of your soil, your garden will thrive. Rotate your crops and add compost to improve your soil quality. It’s possible to generate an abundant harvest by gardening organically without any fertilizers. 

4. Grow what you like

There is no point growing vegetables you don’t enjoy eating. Consider flowers that will bloom for long periods of time, or perhaps some tasty herbs if you like to cook.

5. Start small and simple

If you are a new gardener, you may want to buy seedlings, also known as starts, instead of seeds. Buy from local nurseries or plant sales, as they can provide good advice and plants that are selected for your local climate. Ask for plants that grown pesticide-free.

6. Raised beds and containers keep plants warmer and the soil drier

Planters or raised beds allow you to have more control over your soil composition, and can increase your options on where you can plant. This is especially important in wetter, coastal areas. Keep in mind that water needs to drain easily and that containers dry out faster and need more frequent watering.

7. Timing is everything

Many seeds like to get an early start inside. Read the backs of seed packets and plant tags that tell you the maturity or bloom times. Beware of plants on sale, as they might not ripen properly and watch maturity times — you want to plant so that you can enjoy the harvest.

8. Plan for pollinators

Bees, beetles and butterflies are needed to visit flowers to fertilize your vegetables, and require nectar to survive. To attract more local pollinators you can put out a bee bath (a low dish with fresh water and some rocks), which helps them stay hydrated, and plant pollinator-friendly plants. Earthwise had a great resource.

9. Try new things, experiment and learn by doing

Gardening is a process of discovery and adventure you won’t find in a textbook. Keep your childlike curiosity engaged. If you have kids, include them in the family garden.

10. Nature is good for you

Get out there. We know being outside is good for our brains and touching the earth keeps us grounded. Observing natural life cycles opens our senses, which has numerous benefits. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can visit a park, Botanical Garden or community green space to inspire you.

For Beginner or Experienced Gardeners: A Growing Affair

If you live in the Vancouver area, be sure to come out to the UBC Botanical Garden’s annual plant sale on Saturday May 9, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event is free. What sets this plant sale apart is the quality of both the plants and information offered. Featuring a wide selection of plants propagated by the Friends of UBC Botanical Garden, shoppers can be comfortable knowing that all of the plants for sale are well suited to our wet, coastal climate. And if you aren’t sure what to grow or how to grow it, the UBC Botanical Garden Hortline staff and Master Gardeners will be on-hand to answer your plant questions and help you make selections that will thrive in your environment. Bring the kids! The event also features a children’s activity area for the next generation of gardeners.

You can also learn more about gardening from UBC Botanical Garden by enrolling in a workshop, participating in their forums or asking questions to the Hortline.

Tamara Litke

About Tamara Litke

Tamara Litke is the Sustainability and Community Programs Assistant at the UBC Botanical Garden and has worked at VanDusen Botanical Gardens and the UBC Farm. She is a Master Gardener and volunteers at an elementary school garden, where this year they are experimenting with growing grains such as oats, barley, flax and quinoa. She has been a City of Vancouver Green Street boulevard gardener for 15 years. Tamara tries to have as many leaves as possible growing in her yard and has been gardening organically for decades. As a teenager, she would harvest over 100 varieties of organic garlic, sell them to restaurants and coordinate seed garlic distribution to organic farmers. A recent Bee School graduate, Tamara is passionate about encouraging pollinators to visit her garden.

April 24, 2015

UBC faculty members win prestigious Canada Prize in the Humanities for comprehensive history of northwest native art

Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Jennifer Kramer, and Ki-ke-in

Native Art of the Northwest Coast editors Jennifer Kramer, Ki-ke-in, and Charlotte Townsend-Gault (l-r)

Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas

Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas has won the 2015 Canada Prize in the Humanities awarded by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The book, published by UBC Press, is a collection of essays from a range of authors, each of whom examines the concept of art from his or her unique perspective.

Charlotte Townsend-Gault, a UBC professor in the Department of Art History and a faculty associate in the Department of Anthropology, one of the book’s three editors speaks to the collaboration:

History, identity and art are complex concepts, Charlotte Townsend-Gault explains, and don’t lend themselves to ‘simple definitions’. “What’s art to one person is a cultural symbol to another.”

“People are awakening to this now,” Townsend-Gault says. “Twenty-five years ago when I had the idea for this book, things were seen in much simpler terms. We know how much prejudice there is, and prejudice comes from misunderstanding, or willful misunderstanding. People don’t know enough. So putting into one book some appreciation for the diversity of ideas and peoples is what we wanted to do.”

April 13, 2015

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam time. At its mention, a collective groan can be heard back a hundred years to when students first gathered for their final exams in the shacks at the Fairview campus near Vancouver General Hospital. Students then and now may have secretly wished for some kind of epidemic to break out or at the very least, a major power outage in order to gain more time to study. Both became realities at UBC when in 1918 the Spanish Flu hit the student population and exams were postponed. Less contagious but nevertheless destructive, a tremendous windstorm howled through the Vancouver campus on December of 2002 and as many as 100 exams were affected by loss of power and had to be postponed a week.

Students have sat for exams at UBC in many locations over the years, from the cramped auditorium at the Fairview campus to the sprawling rows of desks at the old Armoury to what is now every nook and cranny available across both campuses.

But the consistent space to prepare for exams has been the library. Over the years library staff have often gone the extra mile to ensure students have all they need to prepare for finals. One staff member, however, went above and beyond when it came to exam time. Mabel Lanning, head of circulation, joined the library in 1926 and did not retire until 1961. For many years she gave up her Easter weekend to keep the Library open so that students had a quiet space to study for exams.

Herewith, a few photos of students over the years preparing for exams. Intent, focused, head down or in the case of one student from the seventies, simply lying down to achieve some state of higher learning — UBC students have inevitably found their own way to manage the pressures of exam time and have, for nearly a hundred years, come out the other side all in one piece. While exam time can be stressful, what is waiting on the other side is (for some) graduation, seeing family and friends, packing up and jumping into cars, planes or trains and heading off campus and into a waiting summer season.

If you are a student needing some tips on managing stress, be sure to check these out as you navigate the final weeks of the term.

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

Exam Time Through the Ages

April 7, 2015

Talk and Tour: UBC Wine Library

March 30, 2015

UBC Storms the Wall

UBC Storm the Wall 1985

UBC students storming the wall in 1985

For nearly four decades, tens of thousands of UBC students have scaled a 12-foot wall after completing a series of on-campus races that test their endurance. The 2015 Storm the Wall event saw over 800 teams participate, an all-time record.

UBC Recreation’s Intramural Program Manager Jason McManus shows how this year’s record number of teams practiced for the event.

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

UBC Storm the Wall 2015

March 23, 2015

Theatre UBC presents: Triumph of Love

Triumph of Love

Triumph of Love

Photos by Julia Carr

Theatre UBC is wowing audiences once again with their new musical Triumph of Love, which is currently being performed at UBC’s Frederic Wood Theatre.

Triumph of LoveDirected by Barbara Tomasic and featuring a winning cast of UBC BFA students, all of whom are in their final year of the program, Triumph of Love weaves together hilarious performances and beautiful music to tell a story about the always complex task of discovering, understanding and winning love.

Set entirely within the pristine garden of a philosophical court, Triumph of Love tells the story of Princess Leonide (played excellently by Catherine Fergusson), who yearns to win the love of the studious Agis. With the help of her quick-witted companion, Corine, Leonide pulls out all the stops in order to capture Agis’ heart and as a result, turns the court on its head. Mistaken identity, confusion and of course, declarations of love, drive the plot of this play, leaving the audience in stitches after each hilarious turn and excitedly awaiting to see how it all turns out.

Triumph of LoveHaving seen Theatre UBC’s production of Twelfth Night earlier this year, I knew I was in for an entertaining experience when I attended Triumph of Love on its opening night. From the beautiful and elegant set, to the pitch-perfect and catchy musical numbers, this production is fantastic and had the audience laughing and cheering from beginning to end. Each member of the seven-member cast delivers an excellent performance, stunning the audience with their expert timing, beautiful vocals and ability to make us laugh, cry and everything in between. Knowing that each actor is in their final year of study, it will be exciting to see where each of them takes their talent next. If their work in Triumph of Love is any indication I know they will all go onto to do great things in the theatre world!

UBCevents highly recommends Theatre UBC’s Triumph of Love. The reasonable ticket prices offer a great opportunity for a night out with friends or family (or maybe even a date night!) Additionally, you can also see the performance for free if you volunteer to usher. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Frederic Wood Theatre box-office and the show runs from March 19th-April 4th. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to witness some of UBC’s finest performers in action!

For more information about Triumph of Love and other upcoming productions by Theatre UBC, please visit the UBC Theatre and Film website and follow @TheatreUBC on Twitter!

Written and prepared by Ian Schultz, UBCevents Communications Assistant
Photos by Julia Carr

February 10, 2015

First UBC School of Nursing Director Recognized

Ethel Johns

Ethel Johns

Government of Canada commemorate Ethel Johns as a Person of National Historic Significance

With the unveiling of a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque commemorating her work, Ethel Johns (1879-1968), a nurse leader who championed the advancement of nursing education as a key strategy for improving the health of populations for over 50 years, has been named by the Canadian government as a Person of National Historic Significance. Johns will be inducted as a Person of National Historic Significance February 10th, 2015 at the UBC Vancouver campus. Johns is being recognized for improving nursing education, writing academically about public health and research in nursing, and pushing forward university study in nursing (v. care aid).

Born in Meonstoke, England, of Welsh parentage, she immigrated to Canada with her family in 1888 when her father took a mission position in the Wabigoon district of Ontario. After graduating from the Winnipeg General Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1902, Johns practiced as a nurse in Winnipeg and was a founding member of the Manitoba Association of Graduate Nurses, serving as its president in 1911, before continuing her education at the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1914/15. She then held a position in Winnipeg at superintendent of the Children’s Hospital before being appointed to the role of Director of Nursing Services and Education at Vancouver General Hospital in 1919.

In the wake of World War I, public awareness of the significant contribution of nursing to a war effort had been awakened. A global Spanish influenza epidemic the following year brought attention to the vital role played by nurses closer to home in managing public health crises within communities. Johns capitalized on this new understanding of the importance of high quality nursing as a public resource to champion for transitioning the education of the profession from the hospital to the university.

Group of nurses

As a result of Ethel Johns’ efforts the University of British Columbia became the first university in Canada to officially incorporate basic nursing education at a university degree granting level. The UBC Senate struggled with how to locate this new entity within the university structure, eventually deciding on the Faculty of Applied Science (at that time representing the Engineering profession), as what was expected to be a temporary placeholder academic home. The Department of Nursing (precursor to the School of Nursing that exists today — still within the Faculty of Applied Science) enrolled its first class of students in 1919, setting the stage in what was to become a global transition that professionalized nursing and established the scientific knowledge base for nursing practice. From its early leadership in advancing nursing education at the university level, the UBC School of Nursing has continued to serve as a beacon of academic excellence in the nursing world nationally and internationally.

The UBC School of Nursing is extraordinarily proud of the legacy of Ethel Johns, its first Director. It continues to uphold the values she set out for the School in pushing at the edges of current thought to explore new ways of approaching problems, applying a distinctly nursing angle of vision to social advocacy, championing equitable access to resources for health for all of society’s members, and building a solid evidential foundation from which to make sound public policy decision on behalf of the health of populations. It is a wonderful heritage to live up to!

Written by Professor Sally Thorne, UBC School of Nursing; edited by Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller, Communications and Marketing

January 26, 2015

Q & A with Kiara Lawson – Costume Designer, The Bacchae 2.1

Kiara Lawson

Kiara Lawson, BFA Theatre Design and Production, focusing on costume design and stage management.

What is your background in costume design and what drew you to design for this show?

KL: My interest in costume design began in high school, where I had the opportunity to design and build various costumes for school plays, and spend hours in the costume storage sorting through the stock. Since then, I’ve built up my skills by working on various independent shows and festivals. The Bacchae 2.1 is the first show I’ve costume designed for UBC Theatre, and it is the final show of my BFA career. I specifically requested to costume design this show because I loved the scope for creativity the script provided and I wanted to have the freedom to design original and unusual costumes — something that I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do for a strict period piece, for example.

What were your design influences on this show?

KL: Traditional Filipino tribal culture and Alexander McQueen were my two biggest influences when designing this show. It was really important to Dennis to incorporate aspects of his Filipino heritage into the show, and this, in part, was achieved through the costume design, which required a lot of detailed research on my part. I also found a lot of inspiration in McQueen’s designs, which are so particular and weird, yet beautiful. They possessed a unique and eccentric quality that I found useful in motivating those sensibilities within my own designs.

Dionysus costume rendering

Costume rendering by Kiara Lawson | More renderings


Photo by Tim Matheson | More Photos

What about this project excited you most? Scared you most?

KL: I loved the fact that this show is so bold and provocative — it forces its audience members to challenge their beliefs and preconceived notions of the world and how they think it should work. I believe the relationship between a show and it’s audience is a very complex and integral aspect of theatre not to be overlooked, and I found this part to be very challenging and daunting when I first began my designs — What does the audience consider to be a woman? What does the audience consider to NOT be a woman? How can I put a dozen female actors on stage and not have the audience immediately judge them and categorize them? It was integral to my design to make sure the audience felt as if the Bacchante women on stage were unfamiliar and alien, so part of my challenge was finding a way to achieve this while taking our modern audience into consideration.

How did you collaborate with the director and other designers to ensure the world was cohesive?

KL: Long before rehearsals began, Dennis (director), Eric (lighting designer), Kate (sound designer), Natalia (set designer), and I had quite a few meetings to discuss the play, what inspired us, and how we could transfer that to the stage. Each design would represent different themes and Dennis decided costumes would represent the polarities of female vs. male and east vs. west, among other things. Collaborating with lighting and projections was also very important, since the design was so bold, and affected the colours of the costumes and makeup onstage.

The Bacchae 2.1, showing January 22 to February 7, 2015.

January 12, 2015

Still Moments from the 2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

2015 Student Leadership Conference

January 12, 2015

How do you have fun on campus?

Your time at university is better when you have friends to spend it with. How did you find your place and your people at UBC?

What are you working on?

January 12, 2015

As UBC’s Horticulturist and Arboriculturist, it’s Collin Varner’s job to take care of all the trees on the Vancouver Campus. Here’s what he’s working on.

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