The fire-crackers were ready, the bands were in tune and the traditional lion dancers were in place on the red carpet. This was to be no ordinary ceremony.
The guests of honour on that warm day in spring were from the University of Victoria, led by President David Strong, and they were being welcomed to the New Century School in Dongguan, China--about one hours drive north of Hong Kong.
In the 40-degree heat, Strong joined New Century officials in signing a formal partnership agreement which sees the UVic faculty of education developing and implementing a kindergarten to Grade 8 English and computer science curriculum.
Two thousand students--from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore-- attend the private residential school. Many of them were on hand to welcome the guests from UVic.
Jim Griffith, the universitys executive director of external relations, was amazed by the reception received by the UVic delegation. When I saw what this partnership meant to them I was basically humbled.
The days events included a gala concert in which the UVic Chamber Singers, conducted by Bruce More, performed with students of the school.
No one has done anything quite like this before, says Dr. Anthony Welch, UVics executive director of international affairs. He and board of governors member Brian Lo initiated the project after visiting the school late last year. Theres enormous research potential for the education faculty. It will give New Century students comfort in English and strong computer skills. Its not an ESL program but could be more closely compared to an English immersion program.
The challenge is to teach English as both a pure language and as an applied language thats used both in the sciences and the arts, and to teach computing to a level that enables the students to function fluently in a digital environment, says Dr. Geoffrey Potter of the faculty of education. This presents an opportunity to conduct research on how Chinese youngsters learn, which has implications for linguistics, ESL teachers and curriculum specialists.
The New Century School partnership results from UVics concerted effort to develop international relations. A university is able to generate trust and goodwill the way governments or corporations arent necessarily able to do, says Allan Berezny, UVics manager of international fundraising.
Dr. Jack Petersen--UVic and Victoria College physician for the better part of 40 years--retired in June.
When he arrived he was earning $6.50 an hour. Through his career Peterson witnessed the growth of the university while thousands of students came to him with everything from routine cold and flu ailments to food poisoning (a 1984 outbreak sent 300 patients to the clinic).
In the early 60s, the clinic made the controversial decision to distribute birth control pills. Our first year we allowed it only if the request was accompanied with a letter of consent from the students mother, says Petersen. We had more of a parental role then.
Now, Petersen says, students expect and get a more holistic approach to their health. Theyre usually of above average intelligence and interested in their own health. Theyre a bright bunch who play a role in their own care.
He really set the tone for the clinic, says head nurse Donna Denman, who worked alongside Petersen for 22 years. He has a strong sense of caring and a wonderful sense of humour. He had an open door policy so everyone had input into the clinics operation. Well really miss him. Well miss his laughter.
The clinic, with up to 1,600 patients a month, has been renamed the Jack Petersen Health Centre and the UVic Alumni Association has recognized the doctors contribution to UVic by naming him an honorary alumnus.
The world of a UVic student ambassador has its unexpected hurdles. Just try explaining the location of Victoria to your colleagues from the U.S.
At a recent conference in Chicago, fellow ambassadors from universities across the states were suitably impressed with the fundraising presentation by UVic students Thomas Boivie, Jaclyn Staples and Clear Lee--it was the geography they couldnt quite grasp. We had to convince them that theres an island northwest of Seattle, says association president, Boivie.
Someone asked us if we were close to Hawaii, adds Lee.
But if they dont immediately recognize UVic, other student ambassadors are taking notice of the upstart association and its goal of building school spirit among students, alumni, faculty and administration.
In its three years of existence, the UVic Student Ambassador Association has put itself on solid financial footing, thanks mainly to growing sales of diploma frames and flowers to graduates and their families at convocation ceremonies.
The ambassadors are a motivated group of about 20 students, volunteering up to 30 or 40 hours a week. All faculties are represented in the association, providing a good mix of perspectives.
Its also chance to gain real world experience. In my first week (with the association) I became vice president of marketing, says Staples, who finds the ambassadors role a good complement to her business studies.
The frame and flower sales, grossing about $20,000 annually, help to fund send-off parties in the home towns of students bound for UVic.
The students credit UVic alumni programs manager Nels Granewall for the success of the association. Without his vision, we wouldnt be here, says Boivie.
In February, the UVic group hosts the Canadian Student Alumni Association Network Conference with 300 delegates expected to attend. And those U.S. ambassadors? Theyve also been invited to discover the campus next door.
by Mike McNeney
When Colleen Bell was studying at UVic in the mid-80s she never really considered working in a library until a campus librarian took her under her wing and pointed her in a new career direction.
Now shes working in the University of Oregon library. Reflecting back on her days at UVic, Bell (BFA 87) remembered her mentors influence and wondered if she could have the same impact on a young person working through the rigours of course work today.
So Bell joined the new Online Community (OLC Network), an innovation developed and trademarked by the UVic alumni affairs office.
Its a really great way to give back to the university if you cant contribute financially.
Bell is one of more than 2,000 graduates, faculty members, senior students and others who have joined the network to provide advice to students and recent graduates.
Some time ago I entered a mentor profile and was contacted by a student who was interested in library science and had seen my profile. She and I have been communicating off-and-on by e-mail for several months. In addition to answering her questions about the library profession, I was able to provide her with names of librarians in her community. Its been a positive experience.
Another feature of the UVic OLC Network that is proving popular is the alumni directory that allows members to update, list, or delete directory information at any time. Members are using the directory to track down old classmates or to scan the business card exchange to see where some of them wound up.
It's an easy way to stay informed, says former Victoria College student Graeme Balcom. I read the Torch when it comes, but if my name is on the e-list I feel sure someone will let me know if something important is happening.
Other options include e-mail forwarding, bulletin boards, and a relocation/travel advisory.
The year-old Web-site is capturing the attention of other universities interested in licensing the product from UVic (the University of Manitoba was the first to sign).
Visit the UVic OLC Network at http://olcnetwork.net/.
Performing the complete cycle of Beethovens string quartets is the pinnacle for a chamber-music group -- not unlike a professional theatre company performing all of Shakespeares plays.
Thats why members of the Lafayette String Quartet -- artists-in-residence at the UVic School of Music -- are thrilled about their Beethoven Cycle concert series at the University Centres Farquhar Auditorium.
The first performance (October 13) will be followed by concerts November 2 and 24, February 2 and 23, and a final performance March 26 coinciding with an international conference on the string quartets of Beethoven.
For the quartet--violinists Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violist Joanna Hood and cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni--the cycle commemorates the millennium and the great composers creative development.
The 16 quartets were written over a span of 28 years and each is unique--varying from pastoral to passionate, ferocious to intellectual.
"Beethovens quartets (encompass) all three periods of his creative life," says Elliott-Goldschmid. "The early period reflects the traditions established by Mozart and Haydn. The middle stage shows him stretching the boundaries of the classical style. And in the late quartets--when he was struggling with illness and the world around him was changing rapidly--his works reflect the turmoil and ecstasy of the period."
This Beethoven Cycle is a rare treat for Victoria audiences. The last time it was played here was more than 20 years ago.
For tickets visit the McPherson Box Office or call (250) 386-6121.
UVic in Asia:
Online Community Network:
|UVic President David Strong (above) and representatives from south Chinas New Century School cut the ribbon on a new English and computer science education partnership.|
|UVic student ambassadors: Thomas Boivie, Jaclyn Staples and Clear Lee.|
|LR: Elliott-Goldschmid, Hood, Stanis and Highbaugh Aloni (seated).|
Alumni President's Message | Feature | Ringside | Alumni Profiles | Keeping in Touch | Vox Alumni
Reach us by email