Does this sound familiar? Youâ€™re studying for a calculus exam when youâ€™d rather beÂ stalking cats on the Internet. Youâ€™re stuck writing an in-class essay when youâ€™d rather be outside playing tag.Â Itâ€™s not like you havenâ€™t had these thoughts during the past four years of high school, but it seems different now.Â
On every given night in Vancouver, there are 500 to 1000 people between the ages of 16-24 living on the streets. They are in constant fear of being robbed, not having enough to eat, or wondering if they’ll be alive for another day.
These are the street-youth of Vancouver. And to know more about them, last week, I had the chance to meet with Michelle Clausius, Associate Director of Covenant House, to find out more about the situation.
According to new liquor laws, theatres with liquor licenses are now able to both screen movies and serve alcohol–just not at the same time. Furthermore, showtimes would have to be scheduled in stone, which is difficult, as live performances at venues are subject to change. Owners are still unsatisfied with the latest concession; however, it doesn’t seem to be any new news. The frustration can be traced back to nearly a century ago.
1920- After aggressive waves of the Temperance Movement, provinces finally repealed prohibition laws and allowed government stores to sell liquor.
1921- Because of the Government Liquor Act, that deemed unlicensed public consumption of alcohol illegal, many Vancouver businesses converted to “private clubs.” Members of these clubs were then allowed to consume liquor.
1971- All liquor advertising (on TV, newsprint, etc.), were banned for a short period of time.
1976- Three types of venues are prohibited from selling alcohol: arcades, businesses which cater to youth, and movie theatres.
1987- Following Expo ’86, the government begins to loosen liquor laws, even moving towardÂ privatizing liquor stores. However, the old “demon rum” attitude is not all gone, as people still did not trust the substance to be regulated by market forces.
A frequent movie-goer, Jacqueline, commented, “The only thing that concerns me about more lenient liquor laws is peoples’ behaviors during movies; however, I would encourage more lenient liquor laws.” It is, after all, an entertainment venue.
Even though liquor laws have been liberalized over the century and progress has been made, traces of an antiquated temperance movement still echo in our contemporary society. It seems like more could be done for progress to be applauded.
Photo from http://www.northhillsoap.com/
Recently, Vancouver SunÂ Op-EdÂ writer Douglas Todd sparked some controversy when heÂ advocated for the abolition of foreign signs, namely Chinese, in Richmond. On the same day of the same paper, Harvey Enchin countered the topic by stating that to restrict Chinese signs would be ‘un-Canadian‘. A few days later, Todd then shared a few letters, of which he received from people of Chinese or Asian descent, who supported his view.
However, these letters are undoubtedly from residents who have already, if not fully, integrated themselves into the English-speaking community. In simplest terms, an immigrant Â who struggles at English would most likely not be adept at drafting a response in written English to an English article.
In context though, the ones who will be affected Â are the immigrants. Richmond’s Asian population sits around 60%. The most concentrated area of Asian signage in Richmond is without question ‘Golden Village,” the well-known commercial district that houses Aberdeen Center, Parker Place, etc. For new immigrants or the Asian-Canadian population in general, it’s a haven that’s better than Chinatown. The signs in Chinese are not put up so that immigrants do not have to learn English; they are put up to make daily life more convenient for the residents, the grocery shoppers. Reading signs in English will not help the average immigrant learn the language.
Then multiculturalism comes into view, as it always does. In its ideal form, it’s about proactively accepting people and their culture into a bigger whole. But it’s certainly not assimilation pretending to be acceptance.
Growing up with immigrant parents, I can say with certainty that they have not neglected the environment that they live in. My father is fairly fluent in English and translates for a monthly community newsletter. My mother regularly attends language classes at a church. However, sometimes what’s most important is still the bits and pieces of what they’d left behind. Even if it’s as small as being able to read a sign in their native language.
The 2012 Lunar Fest is back!
Built as a festival that celebrates one of the oldest traditions for many Asian cultures – Lunar New Year. LunarFest aims to collaborate with many Asian communities and outreaches to other Canadians. Since the inception, LunarFest is also built on an important artistic element for many cultures – the lanterns.Â
Position:Â Blog writer
Organization:Â Vancouver East Cultural Centre
For more than three decades, The Cultch has offered dynamic programming in contemporary theatre, dance and music by local, national and international artists. Working to enrich the social and cultural life of Vancouver, we continue to bring world-class cultural presentations to the public, while supporting the growth of emerging artists and companies, and facilitating dialogue between groups in the Lower Mainland,
16 and Pregnant. Jersey Shore. Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Dancing With the Stars. 19 20 Kids and Counting. The Bachelor. Jon and Kate Plus 8. Admit it; if you own a TV and turn it on once in a while, youâ€™ve seen at least come across one of these shows.
Reality shows have hit a peak in ratings and primetime slots in the past few years. And by reality, the implication is that most, or at least some, of the content is scripted or staged to interest the audience. Not surprisingly, 70% of this audience is the 18-24 demographic. Teachers and educators frown upon reality television, saying that they have no educational value whatsoever. Parents panic at the mere idea of it, thinking it will â€œdumb downâ€ their kids. Of course, these statements arenâ€™t unfounded, but perhaps the general reaction is a tad exaggerated at times.
Take the show 16 and Pregnant for example. The premise is one-hour long â€œdocumentariesâ€ following teen moms in their pregnancy to post-birth stages. So should parents whose sixteen-year-old girls are watching the show worry about them following in the footsteps of these teen moms? Not quite. The show follows much of the trials and tribulations of these girls, but at the same time, amplifies the situations to make it seem comicalâ€”deliberately or indeliberately. With the tone of the show, I highly doubt that the prior decisions of teen moms in real life were made by this show.
How about The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Itâ€™s my personal shame show, and Iâ€™ve followed a few seasons on its Monday night timeslot like a dog at its masterâ€™s heels.Â But itâ€™s hard not to watch the show with a pinch of salt. I cringe every time Chris Harrison claims thatÂ each season will have the â€œmost dramatic ending in Bachelor history.â€
Nowadays, the nature of reality TV is well-known enough that youth today will be to differentiate between reality and TV, and not try to emulate the latter.
I still cannot fully wrap my head around the fact that I am applying for college. At armâ€™s length, it seems like just another stage in my life, but the choices and decisions embedded in the process can be somewhat overwhelming.
I submitted my first college application to an American institution about two weeks ago (under Early Admission), and Iâ€™m finally convinced by the reality: that Iâ€™ll be wading through a lot more in the couple of months.
Since the deadline for most American universities is in the next month or so, Iâ€™ll offer some words of wisdom of my thoughts. For those who are unfamiliar, the American and Canadian application systems are drastically different. Of course, Iâ€™m in no position to create a guide on how to get into college, and countless online articles and college consulting services are available if concrete advice is needed.Â So this article will address some of the realizations that I have come across along the way, and hopefully provide some food for thought for the Class of â€™16 applicants.
This seems straightforward enough. But if you are applying to American universities, chances are, you will be using the Common Application at some point. In addition to the Common App, most schools will ask you to write a couple more supplement essays– unlike the Canadian system, where reporting grades constitutes most of the application process. Set a tempo for your work, so that when the deadline nears, you wonâ€™t find a heap of essay prompts waiting. One student who applied last year, T, said, â€œI spent my entire winter break trying to meet the New Yearâ€™s Day deadline for American universities. I even had to pull some all-nighters the last few days.â€ Donâ€™t do that to yourself.
Compared to Canadian universities, American universities consider a lot more factors in the admission process. In the recent years, applications to U.S. universities have surged. And for applicants, One way to scare yourself to pieces is to constantly think of all your potential competition in the world. Perhaps chances of getting into a prestigious university, namely an Ivy League, may be slimmer. But that doesnâ€™t change your SAT score, or your Grade Eleven GPA. In other words, it is tedious and utterly futile to clutter your mind with factors you can no longer change. Rather, accept them as they are, and put all your effort into other variablesâ€”such as the essays. Trust me; keeping a positive attitude in the process really helps.
As soon as I finished typing that statement, I realized that a number of students will argue: “If I donâ€™t stand out, why would the school accept me?” Of course, standing out may be the key to admission; however, sometimes trying too hard to stand out may backfire. When I first wrote my personal statement, I toiled and toiled to make it unique, in terms of style, structure, and diction. I wanted the admission officers to remember the essay and remember me. For a while, I was quite proud of it, but when I revisited it, I realized that the essay said nothing about who I am. Â Donâ€™t think about standing out in thousands, because chances are, you wonâ€™t. Writing well is important, but showing people your attributes is essential. Focus on presenting your qualities in an accurate and interesting (enough) way.
When I had finally completed my first application, and was ready to hit submit, I waitedâ€”for the minute hand to land on my lucky number. But before it did, my index finger somehow, involuntarily, and mistakenly, clicked on the mouse. Of course, at the time, I had told myself that I would not get accepted because of the error. My point is: you must have worked hard on the application, so once you hit submit, just leave it alone. No amount of cerebral hypothetical scenarios will determine your acceptance or rejection. Perhaps you have more applications to wade through now, or you simply need to get your life back.
Human trafficking. Sex trade. We hear these words on the news, but most often, weÂ attach these terms to third-world countries, or places where civilizationÂ has yet to beÂ fully established. It is only in recent years however, that cases of human trafficking and illegal immigration in the lower mainland have been brought into light. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, ESL and language schools in Greater Vancouver were the ideal places to channel these dealings. To shed some light on the issue, I got a chance to talk to a consultant who previously worked at one of these language schools, who had seen the situation first-handed. To keep his anonymity, I will refer to him as C.
Can you tell us about the role of these language schools as well as your role in it?
C: The role of the ESL Colleges is to upgrade or teach the basics of English. The students primarily come from China. They are usually in high school (Gr. 10-12) or above and are here to prepare for studies in North America. I was essentially contracted to provide consulting services: curriculum and policy development, textbook selection, etc.
During your time at the school, what illegal acts were going on?
C: I saw evidence of the transfer of large sums of money from The Bank of China into specially designated accounts here in Canada. Typically the transfers were approximately $30K in Canadian funds per student. The “students” had student visas to study abroad and were registered at the college as full time enrolled students. There were in excess of 300 such student files in my time there, but only evidence of about 40 students actually attending the college. The fake documents were perfect replicas of a typical studentâ€™s file, complete with high school diplomas and transcripts.
What was the process behind the transactions?
C: The owner and his assistants sustained the transactions. The money transfer was done by direct transfer in advance from an agent in China. It was my assumption that money was paid at several different times. Essentially someone in China was paying to have the girls brought into Canada, so the college owner received the payments in exchange for providing a plausible scenario for a visa. There were shady people often at the school offices for meetings that I was not invited to. I guessed later that these meetings were about the transfers. It was a kind of network of businessmen all involved in the transfers for profit.
Who were these victims?
C: The victims were almost entirely female, age ranging from 15 to 21, and usually from smaller towns in China (according to the files). They were met at the airport by the owners of the college along with an older female representative from the school. She was there to calm the girls in case there was any difficulty. Some of the girls were taken to the college to begin their studies. The college provided housing assistance. Most of the girls never set foot in the college again after that first night. They were taken to various cities in Canada and I think the United States. They were provided with false documents and identification.
How did you find out about the situation?
C: In my consulting role, I had access to student files.Â I became suspicious when I saw that hundreds of files were maintained, but I only saw about 30 students physically in the college at any one time. I also saw copies and receipts from the money transfers. On numerous occasions, I witnessed female students coming to the college itself and asking and pleading to go home. Often the owners yelled and threatened them, saying if they were sent back they would be in serious trouble, maybe even with Canadian authorities.
At any point, did anyone try to pull you into the â€œbusinessâ€ as well?
C:Â Yes of course. It was clear after a while that my main role was to create and maintain the image of a functioning college. Since the owners were businessmen and knew nothing about education, they needed someone with the “right” credentials to provide the proper image. I was never directly involved in any phase of the transfer to Canada of money or people, but indirectly I was put in the role of maintaining the program in order to facilitate the illegal activity.
Â Iâ€™m sure thatÂ a lotÂ of Vancouverites donâ€™t believe that human trafficking exists in our part of the world, so close to us. Is there anything you would like to relay to better inform those who are relatively unaware of the situation?
C: I agree with your assumption that most people are unaware of this activity and would be shocked to see to what extent it takes place in our own backyard, so to speak. Recently, the RCMP has uncovered apartments and condos where many of the girls were housed, often next to people living in nice communities. The neighbours might appear shocked when the discovery is made, but at the same time they were aware.. People should stay aware and report unusual activity to the authorities.
Photo from: http://theinspirationroom.com
ThisÂ comes from a fairly popularÂ TedTalks video I watched a few months ago. In it, British authorÂ Ken Robinson talks about changing paradigms in education. It’s aÂ fairly unfocused and broad topic, but he manages to make a few interesting points–albeit potentially controversial ones.Â Let’s take a look first; and then decide for ourselves.
Every child around the age of six is sentÂ toÂ grade school, and from there on, go through at least twelve rigorous years of something called an “education.” Few ever wonder if there is an alternative, because everyone is on the same boat. Everyone grows up this way, often being categorized by the number of years they’ve been in school. But the concept of public education only sprouted about a hundred years ago.
Public education was introduced around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and its unique system has since stuck. Here, Robinson argues thatÂ the school was modeled on a factory assembly line, and therefore outdated for our current generation.Â Ringing bells symbolize the end of a schoolday, much like those in factories. Schoolchildren are organized by age, much like manufacturing dates on products. ButÂ is allottingÂ people based on age too arbitrary a measure? IsÂ enforcing standardized testing encouraging conformity? Are we alienating non-academicÂ kids by putting everyone in the same system?
Unlike the 20th century, ours is an intensely stimulating one, with bombardments of information on all levels, be it advertisements, the Internet, orÂ increasing accessibility to technology. Thus, according to the Robinson, we should change the education system to cater to today needs and today’sÂ easily-distracted generation. It’s harder and harder for students to keep their eyes on a textbook whenÂ an IPhone, with all its interactive programs,Â is right by their fingertips.Â Inevitably, this is where the controversy pours in. Perhaps parents and educators would vie for doing away with the distractions. And perhaps students see the reality, that these distractions aren’t going anywhere, but that new ways of learningÂ need toÂ be implemented.
We’d still be a long from change evenÂ if the majority see the need. But in the meantime, here’s a neatÂ animated versionÂ of the Ted Talk:Â Changing Education Paradigms
Public school teachers across the province have been negotiating with their employers on a contract extension since March. The negotiations themselves seem to have reached a stalemate, thus enlarging the rift between the two parties, and the imminent outcome is now job action. In short, this tentative decision calls for actions less severe than a strike, but as much as this is an employee vs. employer battle, high school students will nonetheless feel the impact.
In aÂ memoÂ that leaked from the President of the North Vancouver’s Teacher’s Association, plans of what job action would look like were revealed. The first article states that “[m]embers will not undertake any mandated supervision of students outside regularly scheduled classes.” In other words, students will most likely not have the chance to receive any out-of-class help from teachers. Although extracurricular activities are not officially on the cutting block just yet, if the situation escalates, clubs and sports may not fully run in the coming year. One high school student says, “It’s going to be disappointing if there are no more extracurriculars at school, but I also think that this is also an opportunity for students to step up and take on more leadership roles.”
Another article states: “Members will not provide administrative officers with any routine printed, written or electronic communications.” For the academically struggling, this may be a good thing; report cards won’t be issued. For the academically stellar, this will be stressful. Â However, this article does maintain that Grade 12 students will for the most part be unaffected. Marks required for graduation are still to be written. How much else they’ll get out of teachers, such as recommendation letters for scholarships and university applications, are questionable though.
Even with these plans laid out, no one will know the real courses of action and consequences until September rolls around. Standing from a student’s perspective however, I’m just hoping things will play out smoothly behind the scenes; I’m not depending on a blessing in disguise.
Photo credit:Â www.soldonroswell.com