Wednesday, 28 January 2015

We're Back!

Hi everyone,

For starters, I'd like to apologise for the lack of updates, but we're back (albeit a little late) for 2015! That's right, the UBC Intercultural Alliance is back for a new year of engaging events and unique conversations, all to promote interclturalism on our favourite campus.

Second, there's some changes to our system this year. We've added a few new faces to our team, who you will see lurking around on campus and at our events! They're all some amazing people, say hi when you can! And of course, we have a whole new set of amazing events coming up for you, and we can't wait to get started.

As you know, we strive to promote interculturalism on campus through two main avenues - the Intercultural Dialogues and the Intercultural Fair. The Dialogues allow us to throw light on cultural issues that often go overlooked, and engage the vast UBC intercultural community to join the conversation with us. The Fair, on the other hand, is a display and celebration of the various cultures that represented on campus, where ur member clubs gather in a giant room and display the nuances of their customs and traditions to you through dance, food, art, etc.

This blog however, works to achieve a different goal. Through submissions from students on campus, we hope to create a space where different cultures and perspectives can be highlighted through media. And so, if you write and/or find any amazing culture-related posts (whether on campus or not), please do submit them here! We look forward to expanding our own intercultural understanding, and helping others at UBC do the same.

And lastly, I just want to assure you that this blog will be an open arena to facilitate discussion, passing of information, and awakening the unaware. Don't hesitate to come to me or any of the other execs with any questions, concerns and ideas you may have.

See you all very soon!

- Payal Shah
UBCIA Director of Communications

Thursday, 3 April 2014

UBC's First Every Intercultural Fair

On March 28th 2014, in Abdul Ladha, UBC saw its first ever Intercultural Fair - and it was a huge success! After a year of planning and a lot of support from many different departments and organisations on and off campus, the UBC Intercultural Alliance opened the doors of the three storey venue to a huge crowd of students and community members eager to sample the amazing variety of food that awaited.

President, Karen, outside the fair.

Almost all the member clubs of UBC's Intercultural Alliance held booths at the fair meaning that visitors were able to sample food from all over the globe and effectively travel the world during their lunchbreak. The fair was open from 11am to 5pm meaning that people could come and go all day for only $5! Each club prepared an amazing host of food either by themselves, with friends and parents or catered by external companies and restaurants. Visitors were able to use their food tickets to try tidbits of fantastic food from countries like Russia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, India, Taiwan and Jamaica.
Food by the Russian Club

Food by the Russian Club
Food by the Ismaili Club

Furthermore, there were a whole host of wonderful performances that added to the culturally diverse atmosphere. Many cultural clubs as well as external groups and students from the English Language Institute of UBC put forward performers to showcase typical cultural dances, poems and songs. Performances included a Korean dance troop, Scottish bagpipers and a professional traditional Indian dancer from the Indian Embassy of Vancouver. 

Scottish Bagpipers

We thank everyone that attended UBC's first ever Intercultural Fair and hope that next year is even more of a success! We would especially like to thank Alba from UTown@UBC for helping us to coordinate our fair, the Equity and Inclusion office and the Global Lounge for their help and funding and all of the organisations and clubs from on and off campus who participated.


• Arab Students' Association
• Armenian Students' Association
• Caribbean African Association
• German Club
• Ismaili Students' Association
• Pakistan Students' Association
• Polish Students' Society
• Russian Club
• Saudi Arabian Students' Association
• Tamil Students' Association
• Taiwan Association
• UTSAV-Indian Students' Association 

• Middle Eastern Studies Initiative 
• Tanzania Heart Babies Project

• Consulate General of India
• Consulate General of Pakistan
• Consulate General of Poland

• AMS Innovative Projects Fund
• Global Lounge
• UBC Equity and Inclusion Office
• U-Town@UBC

Written by Cicely Blain

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Misconceptions of Poverty in Africa

The image of a healthy African girl, categorised falsely among the images of 'hungry African children'

The image of white poverty, taken from a still in a documentary about poverty in the white population in South Africa and how that is never depicted.


Submission by Pumla Maswanganyi, South Africa, Swaziland
St. Olaf CollegeMinnesota

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Face Your Fear - A Reflection

Face Your Fear 
Hi Everyone. I joined UBC for a graduate program in architecture in September 2012. I am from India. I wish to share some of my reflections on intercultural dialog at the UBC campus. 
UBC boasts of a presence of international students from around 140 countries. On the face of it, this looks as an ideal environment for getting to know different ‘cultures’ of the world or simply put – different attitudes, perceptions and realities as felt real by international students.
One should really ask if this kind of healthy exchange is happening and what really constitutes a cross-cultural dialog? If such an exchange is felt necessary for all-round development of the individual, then one should think of ways in which this can be encouraged on a daily basis – to the point of being very natural and intrinsic. 
Culture is sometimes an overly glossed term. At times it is made to advertise as a display object. In fact, I argue, sometimes the analytical discussion leads to an erosion of the meaning of what does culture really mean to students?
To me, embracing ‘other’ cultures means to understand fully, the alternative reality (thoughts, actions, assumptions, biases) embedded in them. ‘Life’ for ‘others’ is not as per standard ‘fit for all’ For some people life might be a celebration, for others, life is a burden, yet for others it is really frustrating. Are you serious enough to know the causes for such variation? There is a diversity and this can cause a lot of pain, fear and challenge to anyone who is serious enough to understand and embrace the difference. Understanding and acknowledging an unknown individual (who has a completely different outlook from yours) psychologically, emotionally, intellectually is not funny – in fact it is one of the hardest things to take on. It can expose your own shallowness of life. It can expose your own fears and biases. Please do not run away from this exposure and this is what I also tell myself every time I sense some insecurity boiling within myself. Such an exposure will offer you a chance to understand the common language of humanity and the concerns that we all share. To me, being a global citizen, means to drop out politically differentiating labels of ethnicity, religion and cultural definitions. However, to transcend such differentiation will require an individual to realize that the cultural difference is the making of our own minds (a social construct) and can only be broken by having a continuous interactions with all students, staff and faculties in UBC.
The fundamental challenge that I see here is to generate opportunities for creation of public spaces of interactions and creating a common time where each and every individual, irrespective of his/ her discipline of study and routine, come and start to talk just about anything under the sun. There must be a common space and time marked out for such interactions. This is lacking at present in UBC. With the kind of flexibility and infinite choices that are available for the individual to plan his/ her routine, are we unknowingly creating individual ghettos and forming barriers towards effective communication? As I understand, we are here in UBC to ‘relate’ to others and not be contained in our cocoons.
With that perspective, the effort taken by Intercultural Alliance is inspiring. Good to see poems, drawings, thoughts, music belonging to different cultures. That forces me to think about who I am and what connection do I have with people over here? Great job people! 
From my end, this is an open invitation to anyone who would be interested to know anything about the architecture and the culture of India. I already have a presentation on history of Indian architecture ready to be shared across. You may usually find me on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays in Ponderosa B, 2024 West Mall. 
All the best! 
Submission by Niranjan Garde, India
Candidate – Master of Advanced Studies in Architecture, UBC

Monday, 27 January 2014

Polish artworks

Wyndiwidualowalismy Sie Z Rozentuziazmogewgo Tlumu
A Polish tongue twister, one half showing the correct spelling and one half after attempting to replicate it.
Car-oh-liy-na Gorkziak
Showing the different ways the artist's name has been pronounced since coming to Canada.

Meet me na Broadwayu i pojdziemy na coffee
A play on "Poglish", or amalgamated Polish-English

Artist's detached view of religion and the strictness of the past of Poland.

"Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski" and "Pawel Wasilewski"
Showing how easily one changes their name to make it easier for others to pronounce, all while losing the identity they were born with.

Submission by Karolina Perrin, Poland.
Former UBC Polish Club President.

Monday, 20 January 2014

UBC IA: Curryoke Night

Our expert panel
Co-chairs, Efua and Ben
UBC IA recently held a Curryoke night, the first of a series of dialogues that aim to get people talking about multiculturalism at UBC. The event was a great success; almost 100 students showed up, representing the vast range of cultures and nationalities that exist on our campus. UBC IA's member clubs brought with them a delicious array of curries that allowed us to sample cuisines from all over the world as well as an appetite for great conversation and inspiring debate. The night ended with some amusing sing-along performances.

But just like any important topic, the discussion is not over! If you would like to take a look at the questions that were thought up throughout the evening, check them out here. Furthermore, if you are still interested in engaging in some discussion about something you learnt during the evening or even thought of afterwards you are welcome to contact the exec team, submit a reflection as a blog post to or start up a conversation on our Facebook Page.

The captivated audience
International curries!

UBC IA would like to thank;