Thursday, February 7, 2008

  • All ready for the year of the rat
  • Progress on an Abu Dhabi campus
  • Drama students explore Caledonia
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Ford]Retired prof is mourned

James Douglas (Jim) Ford, who taught chemical engineering at UW from 1959 to 1961 and again from 1964 to his retirement in 1995, died Sunday. A native of Barbados with degrees from McGill and Toronto, Ford (photo, 1980) was a specialist in heat transfer and solid-gas reactions. He served eight years as director of the first-year engineering program. A memorial service will be held Friday at 3:00 at the Erb & Good Funeral Home on King Street, with visitation preceding the service at 2:00.

Link of the day

Chinese immigration to Canada

When and where

Slave auction fundraiser in support of engineering Iron Ring Stag 11:30, Carl Pollock Hall foyer.

New faculty lunch-and-learn: “Seeking and Using Mid-Course Feedback” 11:45, Math and Computer room 4051, by invitation.

Technical speaker competition for engineering students, sponsored by Sandford Fleming Foundation, 12:30 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Toronto Futures colloquium on sustainable urban architecture, 1:00 to 9:00, Architecture building, Cambridge, details online.

Career workshop: "Work Search Strategies" 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Discussions Without Borders weekly group on international development topics, 5:30, Student Life Centre room 3103, sponsored by Engineers Without Borders.

UW Choir auditions for soloists Thursday evening; sign up at music office, Conrad Grebel room 1302; performance of "Israel in Egypt" is Sunday, April 6.

[FASS participant in cynical T-shirt]
FASS 2008:
"Global Warming: Kiss Your FASS Goodbye" February 7 and 9 at 8:00, February 8 at 7:00 and 10:00, Humanities Theatre, tickets $7 Thursday, $9 Friday and Saturday from Humanities box office, 519-888-4908.

Warrior sports: Women’s basketball vs. Royal Military College 6:00, Physical Activities Complex (rescheduled from February 1). • Men’s hockey vs. Laurier 7:30, Icefield.

Exceptional Teaching by a Student Award nomination deadline for 2008 is Friday.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: "Remote Assistance Using Bomgar" Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

‘Effects of Minority Government in Canada Since 2004’ political science symposium, with launch of Two Cheers for Minority Government by Peter Russell, Friday at Wilfrid Laurier University, details online.

Black history discussion Friday 2:00, Student Life Centre great hall, discussing black community in media and real life; panelists include Toronto deputy police chief Keith Ford, spoken word artist Travis Blackman, Marlene Griffith Wrubel of UW organizational and human development office, plus students.

St. Jerome’s University presents Louise Fréchette, former Deputy Secretary General of the United Natons, “Empowering Women: A Sound Investment” (2007-08 Teresa Dease Lecture), Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s.

Warrior Weekend alcohol-free activities in the Student Life Centre Friday and Saturday evenings, including “Speed Meet New People”, crafts, ice cream sundaes (Friday) and pizza (Saturday), and movies (“Good Luck Chuck” Friday 11:00, “Bee Movie” Saturday 9:00, “Michael Clayton” Saturday 11:00), details online.

Going Green workshop series sponsored by Grand House Student Co-operative: Solar Power workshop Saturday 9:00 to 12:00, Waterloo Region council chambers, 150 Frederick Street, Kitchener, details online.

Class enrolment appointments for spring term undergraduate courses February 11-16; open enrolment begins February 19.

Women in Mathematics “Integrated Monday” tea and cookies for women students and faculty (bring your lunch), Monday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5136.

Blood donor clinic February 13 and 14 (10:00 to 4:00) and February 15 (9:00 to 3:00), Student Life Centre, book appointments at Student Life Centre.

Alumni networking workshop offered by Career Services, Tuesday, March 4, 6:00 to 9:00, cost $20, registration online.

International Women’s Day dinner: “Celebrate women mentoring women,” Thursday, March 6, 5:00, University Club. Speakers are Emerance Baker (aboriginal services coordinator) and Susan Tighe (civil and environmental engineering); tickets $30 at Humanities box office.

UW alumni night at Toronto Raptors game Friday, March 7, 7:00 p.m.. Tickets $35 (including bus transportation from UW to Air Canada Centre and back) from alumni affairs office, details online.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 21-24; submissions welcome now for oral or poster presentations, deadline for abstracts February 8, details online.

[The moment before the applause]

“Busy Cowboy” was one of the acts during a new year celebration in the Humanities Theatre January 25, sponsored by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. Photo by Boyuan Zhang.

All ready for the year of the rat

Celebrations of the new year are in full swing this week, as the “year of the rat”, one of a dozen animals that make up the oriental zodiac, began with the coming of the new moon late last night. Celebrations for the beginning of year 4706 in the East Asian calendar have been going on since late January, and the new year season continues until the Lantern Festival, which this year falls on February 20.

[Trinh]The conventional cry is “Gung hai fat choi!” — happy new year — but it’s a mistake to think of the festival as just a “Chinese” new year, says Johnny Trinh (left) of UW’s student life office, whose work includes involvement with dozens of ethnic clubs across campus, and whose personal background is a mixture of Vietnamese and Chinese.

He points out that the lunar new year (so called because it’s signaled by the phases of the moon) is observed by overlapping communities that include not just Chinese — themselves speakers of two different languages — but Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino and other groups.

Nobody tries to keep figures on how many of UW’s students have East Asian backgrounds, but "many members of the UW community", says Trinh, will be celebrating the new year. Although the most prominent East Asian population in Kitchener-Waterloo as a whole is Vietnamese, on campus the largest group is Mandarin-speaking Chinese. Mandarin is the national language of China, the form of Chinese spoken in Beijing, Nanjing and other mainland regions, and also in Taiwan.

Another large group of Chinese at UW speaks the country’s second main language, Cantonese, which predominates in southern regions such as Guangzhou as well as the autonomous region of Hong Kong. Trinh points out that until a decade or so ago, Cantonese speakers dominated among the Chinese in Toronto and Vancouver, and on the UW campus, but the balance has since shifted toward Mandarin.

At least 20 recognized student organizations represent various East Asian groups. Students choose an organization (or more than one organization) based on language, religious views and special interests, as a list prepared by Trinh’s office makes clear. For instance, the Korean Students Association, largely made up of people who are actually from Korea, wouldn’t necessarily draw the same participants as the Korean Christian Fellowship, which emphasizes religion and a multi-generation heritage. There’s one Filipino Association and one Vietnamese Students Association, plus Konnichiwa Japan, which includes students from the homeland but is predominantly made up of Canadian students interested in Japanese culture and involved in exchange programs.

Among Chinese speakers, there’s both a Chinese Students Association (where the Cantonese speakers are likely to be found) and a Chinese Students and Scholars Association (where the language is Mandarin). Beyond that, some groups are religious (the Chinese Christian Fellowship, the Chinese Catholic Community, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Relief Organization, and the Cantonese Chinese Christian Fellowship, which held a new year’s coffeehouse last night in Environmental Studies). Then some have other emphases: the Chinese Debating Club, the Chinese Drama Club, the Falun Gong Club, UW Dimensions (which publishes a Chinese-language magazine for the campus). There’s a Mandarin Students Union and a Taiwanese Students Association.

The list is rounded out with the Asian Christian Fellowship, the Canadian Asian Students Association, and Asian Focus. And an umbrella group for some of the clubs, called Cube, will be organizing "Lunarfest" next week, with a food fair on Tuesday and a fashion show on Wednesday.

Stir-fried prawns with broccoli and wasabi mashed potato are among the menu items for today's lunch buffet at the University Club. • The international spouses group will hear about Chinese new year and try some refreshments starting at 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre (children welcome; for information e-mail • The holiday is marked with an open house at Waterloo International, with information about UW partners in East Asia, 3:00 to 5:00 today in Needles Hall room 1101 (RSVP ext. 38350).

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Progress on an Abu Dhabi campus

“We’re into nitty-gritty matters,” provost Amit Chakma told UW’s board of governors Tuesday in a brief update about a proposal to open a campus in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, offering a selection of UW programs in engineering and mathematics.

He said a delegation of three academic officials will make a week-long trip to Abu Dhabi later this month to talk with Waterloo’s partners there about “curriculum-related matters” as the planning moves ahead. The delegation will include Leo Rothenburg, chair of civil engineering (who will be acting dean of engineering in 2008-09), chemical engineering chair Tom Duever, and the director of math and business programs, Peter Wood.

“This visit is critical,” said Chakma, noting that UW is hoping to avoid delays, despite the complications of a new accreditation system that was recently introduced by the Emirates as a number of universities from North America and Europe move to create specialized campuses in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and elsewhere.

“We have literally 20-plus people working towards preparing a package of our accreditation application,” the provost said.

“We remain enthused about the project,” he added, noting that if all goes well with the academics’ visit this month, trips are in the future for representatives of the registrar’s office, the co-op department, and student services, as well as the vice-president (administration and finance) or someone from his organization who will work with local authorities on the construction of buildings for UW to use.

There remain some issues to be looked into, the provost told the board, noting that UW has expectations about academic freedom, human rights issues, and matters as ordinary as whether students in the Emirates will be allowed to publish a newspaper the way they do on the Waterloo campus.

Creating an Abu Dhabi presence “will carry more risk than any project we could contemplate here,” he said. But: “this project, executed well, will bring in about $22 million a year, and we’re going to use all this money to strengthen quality on our main campus.”

At steady state, the Abu Dhabi campus would take in about 200 students a year, making a total enrolment of about 800, he noted.

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Drama students explore Caledonia

A new play opens tonight— not only performed, but also “researched and relived” by students of the UW drama department.

Its title is “Differ/End: The Caledonia Project”, and the credits include “Text by Gilbert Garratt, Directed by Andy Houston, Dramaturgy by Lisa O’Connell, Music and Soundscape by Colin Labadie, Film and Visual Documentation by Peter Mabrucco.”

The show’s background is right out of the nightly news. “As the mist rose early in the morning of April 20, 2006,” a news release recalls, “Ontario Provincial Police officers attempted to end a 52-day land-claim occupation of a southwestern Ontario construction site by members of the Six Nations reserve. Armed with M16 rifles, tear gas, pepper spray and Tasers, the OPP moved in and arrested 16 people.

“By 9 a.m. hundreds of protestors returned to the site. Fires were set. Roads were blocked. Protestors climbed on vehicles and waved Mohawk flags while police helicopters roared overhead. ‘As long as it takes,’ vowed a protestor. A call was sent out to other reserves to send more demonstrators. As night fell, busloads of supporters arrived at the site, the newly developed subdivision of Douglas Creek Estates, in the small town of Caledonia, Ontario.

“Today the land stands empty, the existing homes struck down, their infrastructure torn out. Even the topsoil has been removed and sold off. Twisted and broken lamp standards guard paved roads that negotiate the land of this stillborn suburb and lead to nowhere.

“How could this happen? How could a burgeoning subdivision in a bedroom community become the battleground for a 200-year-old land claim dispute? Could it happen in your neighbourhood? Is the land under your home disputed? In our modern democracy where differences are acknowledged and even celebrated, how could this happen?

“These were a few of the questions asked by the student-researchers from the University of Waterloo’s Drama Department as they made their way to Caledonia during the fall of 2007.

“Over a period of several months, under the supervision of Professor Andy Houston, twenty-five students conducted extensive first-hand research. They spent time with and interviewed people of the town of Caledonia, people of the Six Nations Reserve, native historians, people who watched the dispute from their backyards, and people who have travelled from outlying communities drawn to issues of land and justice. Now the students are ready to share their experiences and discoveries with all of us who share the land.”

The show is being performed in Studio 180 of the Humanities building, at 7:00 tonight through Saturday and again February 14-16. Tickets are $12 general, $10 seniors and students, from the Humanities box office (519-888-4908).


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