In honour of Dr, Donald Wehrung

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I was invited to attend a ceremony to celebrate Don Wehrung’s contribution to the International Student Initiative at UBC. It was an incredible ceremony and all the speakers did a fantastic job of highlighting what a great man Don truly is.

Don is the person who was asked to head the International Student Initiative when it started back in 1996. The goals of the program was to increase the number of international students at UBC. Don has been incredibly successful, around 10 percent of UBC students at the moment being international. One of the most important contributions that Don made (at least as it applies to me) is starting the International Leader of Tomorrow (ILOT) Award . He lobbied the university for money to provide what has become the most generous international scholarship program in Canada. At the ceremony Karen McKellin the Associate Director of the International Student Initiative told the Audience that Don risked his job to provide international scholarships at UBC. Some of the most important people at UBC including the Dean of Arts and VP Academic both told stories of how Don personally fought for funding on a case by case basis for ILOT winners. The dedication, care and selflessness that he has shown concerning less privileged international students is remarkable.

Don’s actions and initiatives have shaped almost every aspect of my life. The staff that he hired and the recruitment program that he developed have directly influenced how I see the university and what I have experienced. Damara Klaassen who came to my school in Ghana and showed me all the pretty pictures that sold me on UBC. Badre Hassani, who on my first day at UBC made me feel so completely at home, taking me into his office, serving me tea and even giving me an international calling card so that I could contact my parents. Karen McKellin who on my third day alone in this strange country/city/campus helped me to transport all of my possessions from one side of campus to the other. All these people, Don’s staff, their kindness and caring created a love and awe for UBC that lingers with me still.

The ILOT award that I was lucky enough to receive has allowed me to come here, to form this great life that I have. At UBC I have found new passions, friends and interests, all of which are incredibly dear to me. Everything that I own, everything that I do, all the relationships that I have made would not have been possible without Don, his staff and their never-ending commitment to my success. I lack the  necessary eloquence to truly describe just how grateful I  am to them for all that I have. That gratitude is there though, in overwhelming amounts for not only me, but also for the many other students that he has helped.

Thank you Don.

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In the Summer Time!

Summer has just started and I am already finding it to be perfectly fantastic.

The first new development of my Summer was moving out of traditional dormitory style residence into Suite style residence… aka… an apartment. I now have a kitchen to cook in (an activity that I really need a lot more practice with), a lounge and bathrooms all to myself and my two roommates instead of an entire floor of 22 people. I also get to share this apartment with the lovely Miss Amy Tipton, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

The other great part about summer is that you just get to do more of the stuff that you should be doing during the year. I’ve got to spend a lot of time with so many friends that I never had time to hang out with while advising in Place Vanier.

Rock Climbing

I’ve been rock climbing and reading and watching movies (MacKenzie left me a great list of must watch movies that I am slowly making my way through). Being able to read for pleasure again is something that I am particularly happy about. I went to the second hand bookstore and bought an armful of books that I will soon add to my LibraryThing.

My Summer work term at OLT is also kicking into gear. All the students for this term have been hired and we are in the process of finalizing what everyone will be working on. I think my main focus will be on using WordPress Mu as a content management system… so expect some cool hacks and plugins to be written as a result. It is so exciting to think that when I start school again in the summer that there will be a number of UBC web services out there that I have helped to create.

Opening the Irving K. Barber Learning Center

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Julie Mitchel if I would be able to speak at the opening of the Irving K. Barber Learning Center. She wanted me to give a student’s perspective of what the Learning Center means to the students of UBC. I accepted, not really understanding what I was getting myself into. As the weeks went by subsequent meetings with Julie made me see that the ceremony was a lot more important than I ever could have imagined. For a great description of what the ceremony was actually about, Phillip Jeffrey wrote an excellent post here. I am still unable to express just how terrifying it was to speak after people like Professor Stephen Toope and Gordon Campbell. It went off pretty well though and I think my speech was well received. Pictures of the event (courtesy of Philip Jeffrey) can be found here. A video of it can also be found here (I talk right at the end).

It was an amazing experience and I feel so honored to have been a part of it.

Facebook Tip… make your profile more presentable

So after Looking at Mackenzie and Ciara’s Facebook profiles I saw that they both look much better than most people’s. The reason being that instead of having comma denominated lists like “Interests: running, swimming, hiking, hockey…” they put them in an actual list form like so:






Ciara even adds breaks using dashes. I did the same and now my profile is no longer a jumbled mess… yay!

In fact it looks so good I’ll just include it on my about page on this site.

Getting the creepy out of Facebook

Facebook ModelThis was supposed to be a long and intense post, blending many different discussions that I’ve had over the past week, but I don’t have time and since I just got my new WordPress site, I need to write! (I’ll get the rest of it up some other time).

Here is the Jist of it:

I have spoken to so many people who tell me that “Facebook is creepy”. One of the biggest taboos here is to say “oh, I saw it on your mini-feed”. People get all weirded out as if they didn’t know that one of the key reasons of Facebook’s success is the fact that it is so good at distributing your information to those who know you.
Jocelyn and Ciara... Ballas
Jocelyn and Ciara (my resident Facebook experts) were lamenting that fact with me and we came up with the idea that maybe the problem is just the language that has evolved around Facebook. We put information on Facebook for people to see. We have complete control over who can see that information. It’s like creating a poster about yourself. It isn’t creepy looking at someone’s poster. Jocelyn and Ciara came up with some alternative names. They suggested something like “exploring” or “learning”. I think of it as “researching your personal social network”. Someone reading your profile is a good thing… it helps them to know you better. Someone reading your wall-to-wall with someone else is also a good thing. It’s flattering. Someone cares enough to read about you. If there is something that you don’t want people to read about you… you shouldn’t publish it and if you have to tell somebody something private… that’s what private messages are for.