life, Published articles

Vancouver: Greenest City on Earth

Mayor Gregor Robertson announced his green plan which intends to make Vancouver the greenest city on earth by 2020. To achieve this goal a list of guidelines has been set out. One of the suggestions proposed is to reduce water consumption by 33%. This announcement made headlines in local papers which caught my eye. Our team consisting of Brandi Cowen, Aaron Tam, Brent Wittmeier and myself set out to find the truth.

The style of this news piece is futuristic. In this broadcast you will see the what happened in the process of filming it and the challenges we had to overcome to put it together for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

http://thunderbirdtv.ca/2009/12/01/water-wise-vancouver/

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life, Published articles

Supersizing your hand bag: a health hazard

Attention fashionistas with avant- garde accessory sense. To be seen without your Prada, Gucci, Coach or Guess bag is considered a fashion faux pas and the consequence for this is an unceremonious departure out of the elitist sisterhood sorority.

Are over sized handbags a health hazard for spinal injuries ?? Our fashion police consisting of five feminist investigative journalists ( Amanda Ash, Faiza Zia Khan, Katie Hyslop, Megan Stewart and Sarah Stenabaugh) set out on a “fact or false” mission on the effects of heavy handbags on the female spinal cord.

The video is featured on the title page of the August 2009 issue of THE THUNDERBIRD. Enjoy our brainchild.

Supersized fashion maybe bad for your health

life

Satellite children: Negotiating ethnic identities

This is post is part of my preliminary research on Satellite Children (referred to as sat-kids) in Vancouver. I am interviewing several people who identify themselves as sat-kids and some of their stories are reproduced here as first hand real life experiences.

Who are they?

Ka Tat Sang, Faculty of Social work at University of Toronto writes, “Satellite children are children of ethnically Chinese immigrants to North America who have returned to their country of origin after immigration.”

There is a wide range of identity negotiating approaches in these interviews and the stats may vary as I progress further in my research. The idea came to me as a dear friend mentioned her trials and tribulations as a young Taiwanese immigrant to the luscious city of opportunity Vancouver with her younger sister. I have chronicled experiences of only two interviewees in this blog  to provide an idea about Sat-kids and what does it entail.  These individuals are very established Vancouverities and have thriving careers so in some ways these are their success stories. Yet it establishes why the issue at hand matters so much. I have many more interviews with a wide spectrum of impressions and thoughts.

On conditions of anonymity my interview subject opened up her heart to me for which I remain grateful. Never had I heard something so authentic and original in terms of feelings and emotions. As you read on bear in mind that it is a very brave attempt to convey her life story without breaking out into bouts of tears. I was teary eyed a few times during the interview but she kept a brave face and poured her thoughts out.

Some candid real life experiences:

Mary-Lou is the pseudonym I will use to refer to her, although she has an actual name. The gist of her story has roots in loss of a familial home, loss of identity and the struggle to embrace an entirely different culture and country as homeland. But the deeply embedded emotion I identified was the need to feel belonged- to claim some place as her own and carve her own niche.  I have written out her words verbatim below.

” I came here with my younger sister and my mother. My father came, stayed for a few days and left.  He is a very established Professor at a University in Taiwan. My mother is a pharmacist by profession. We are very well-0ff in terms of financial capacity.

It was a very new culture for me and my mother had to struggle to get us established. She cooked, cleaned and tried to get life together for us. I became a mother for my sister as I eventually learned to drive and had to drop her off and pick her up from school and other activities.

I do not feel that I was ever a kid, always a responsible grown up who had a child to look after. Part of the reason was that my mother could not speak the language as well as I could. She also had mobility problems and would get lost if she went too far away from home. So she stuck to friends and places where she could communicate easily.

My father would come visit every once in a while but never really enough to make me feel nutured. I always felt that he was more duty bound to come see us than anything else. I craved for a father. Luckily I had a mother and a sister, some of us here have no one at all and are completely on their own. I had a home to go at the end of the day.

I believe if my father had not sent us away we would be a normal family. But to him Canada was a land of opportunity for us. We could learn English get better education and if we chose we could c0me back whenever we wanted. But now after living here for so long I wasnt sure if I wanted to go back. As fate would have it I met my boyfriend who is from Taiwan, he moved back and that has motivated me to move back.  My sister adapted better than I did. Probably because she was younger and slipped right into her role.

My father got a mistress and when my mom found out, she was devastated. My father was not very remorseful about the break up of our family and that ate me up inside. Now I think I keep a more closer watch on my boy friend because of my experiences. You can call it insecurity if you like.”

The other interviewee is a successful, career focused individual with a well established life style in Metro Vancouver, yet memories are still fresh from being a sat-kid. Please note again that this is verbatim.

“1) Economic difficulties: My Dad was an entrepreneur in Taiwan, but did not have a formal education. So naturally, when coming to Canada, his only option was to continue with doing business. He found moderate success in his first 2 to 3 years; however, opportunities in Taiwan was still better, which eventually led him back to Taiwan.

I wouldn’t necessarily blame the government for my dad moving back to Taiwan. This is Canada….it is what it is….there’s only 33 million people in this vast land of ours. Taiwan is probably a little bigger than Vancouver Island and has a population of 23 million. The density of the population makes a big difference when considering economic opportunities. And Canada, while I’ve observed significant improvement over the last 10 years, still has a strong socialist ideology.

Everyone expects the government to feed them dinners; and the economic improvements came mostly from the new immigrants to this country. So, it was obvious that my dad would’ve found better opportunities back in Taiwan. It’s been 20 years now, and he’s been coming back two times a year. Each stay is around one week. I feel very lucky that our family is still together. The hardest was probably on my mom….now that I’m raising my own family, my mom can stay with my father three to four months of the year in Taiwan.

2) Social Issues: Never had the flashy cars….I don’t know if you can count a Honda Prelude as a flashy car….it was a gift for my acceptance to University. Definitely, the self-esteem played a factor in my highschool years. I was getting in a lot of trouble, grade 12 was the only year I was not suspended. Some of my friends ended up going to Jail….most of them had the satellite issues. I didn’t think I had a self-esteem issue in high school; I always felt super confident.

But in looking back at the things I did, I would definitely say that low self-esteem would explain a lot of my past behaviours. But at the end of the day, you make decisions for yourself…you can’t blame your parents or the environment. You choose where you want to go in life!”

Keeping these impressions in mind I want you to take away from this blog that it is not easy being the new kid on the block, especially when that “new kid” comes from a completely different culture and speaks an entirely different language.

life

Wanted: Love, online

There has been a significant uprise in the numbers on online dating polls recently in Canada as stated by Online Dating magazine.

The online dating game
The online dating game

The trend has been fast and furious in USA with the economic downturn but it seems the trend has caught up with the Canadians. With couples paying in excess of $100 for online matchmaking at websites such as Lavalife or uDate.com, still feel it is worth the effort as they do not have to face disappointment in real life.

In 1998 Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks represented the online dating notion to the world in  “You’ve got mail” through a series of emails she exchanges with Hank,  before meeting him in person. But as the online dating world became more sophisticated so did the portrayal in the movies. ” Because I said so” (2007)  showed the audiences how creating online dating profiles was the order of day as the mother of the protagonist launches her daughter in the virtual world.

“The traffic on the site is up by over 80% this year.” says Markus Frind CEO of Plenty of Fish, the free online dating website, first of its kind in Canada.

bigstockphoto_Cyber_Love_27064Melanie and Nick ( last names not mentioned due to the couple’s request for anonymity) met through an online dating service three years ago and are now getting married this August. The couple was never very motivated to meet someone online but when a friend who worked for the dating site reassured Melanie,  it is safe to join she jumped on the band wagon.

” I thought there would be weirdos and freaks on the dating website. But it wasn’t so as I met Nick. So perfect, ” says Melanie about her online dating experience.

It was not very soon that she will meet the man of her dreams. They took to online chatting and email exchanges through the dating website.

Like Melanie and Nick many couples have written their success stories on the website Plentyofffish.com. Similarly Match.com published their statistics to declare that 56 million “first emails” were sent the first half of 2009.  First emails in the online dating lingo is the first contact with a person of interest.

If the web is your domain you may get lucky in finding love- online.

life

Move over MAC, Sephora is here

As I drove by the Mall today when I left the house I saw an unusual number of cars in the parking lot. I thought for a second probably its the summer circus back in town but the place was devoid of the glittering carousel and the big tents that come with the circus package. Then it all came to me. Today is the big day.

Sephora make up line. Photo Courtesy: talkingmakeup.com
Sephora make up line. Photo Courtesy: talkingmakeup.com

Make up giant Sephora opens doors to two Vancouver locations, one in Pacific Centre (downtown) and the other in Coquitlam Centre. The third store will open in the Metrotown Mall (Burnaby) in October 2009.

Georgia Strait called it the Cosmetic Candy Store . In order to understand Sephora’s success, you need to know about the approach that’s helped it establish more than 800 stores in 14 countries.

“It’s like a beauty playground,” said spokesperson Christine Egashira, during a tour of the 5,421-square foot Coquitlam store that includes energy efficient and environmentally friendly amenities like LED lights and a recycling program.

It is a feeling of deja vu when a few years ago MAC opened its doors for the Vancouver market. Now Sephora has taken the Vancouverite fashionistas by storm.

Will I go and visit the store? Sure I will as they carry a vast variety of prestigious products. But I will not be lining up outside the malls to be amongst the first to enter the store today.