Tuesday, March 4, 2008

  • Carbon footprint calculator is launched
  • Student found Japan 'very different'
  • More today (may contain chocolate)
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Link of the day

Better English for you and I

When and where

Career workshop: “Business Etiquette and Professionalism” 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

‘Can men be feminist?’ panel marking International Women’s Week, 1:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre room 2134.

Institute for Computer Research presents Eric Sutherland, TD Securities, “An Insider’s Perspective on TD Bank Financial Group”, 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

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

Mathematics Endowment Fund celebrates reaching Pi Million Dollars in its endowment, cake and presentation, Wednesday 12:30 to 2:00, Math and Computer building third floor.

‘From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion’ documentary film sponsored by Women’s Centre, Wednesday 1:00, Student Life Centre room 2134.

Larry Bricker, co-op education and career services, reception to mark retirement after 39 years, Wednesday 3:30 to 5:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, RSVP ext. 36624.

Author Alayna Munce reads from her work Wednesday 4:00, St. Jerome’s University room 3012.

Perimeter Institute presents Neil Turok, Cambridge University, “What Banged?” (new view of the initial singularity that began the universe), Wednesday 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute, ticket information online.

Apple’s new iMac lunch-and-learn session sponsored by Campus TechShop, Thursday 12:00 noon, Math and Computer room 2066, RSVP ext. 36143.

Introduction to Spanish brown-bag language lesson with Mario Boido to mark International Celebrations Week, Thursday 12:00, Environmental Studies I room 350.

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

Faculty of Arts presents strategist and entrepreneur David Nostbakken, “The Power of Peace in an Information Age”, Thursday 6:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Global Citizenship Conference at Wilfrid Laurier University Friday-Sunday, details online; keynote speaker Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire, Friday 7 p.m., WLU athletic complex, tickets $15.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, with Guelph Chamber Choir, “Two — A Second Glance”, Saturday 8:00 p.m., St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Kitchener, tickets $20 (students $15).

March break open house for future students (formerly Campus Day) Tuesday, March 11, details online.

National curling championships for Canadian Interuniversity Sport and Canadian Curling Association, hosted by UW at Guelph and Elora Curling Clubs, March 12-16, details online.

Blood donor clinic March 17-19 (10:00 to 4:00) and March 20 (9:00 to 3:00), Student Life Centre, appointments at turnkey desk.

Good Friday holiday Friday, March 21, classes cancelled, UW offices and most services closed (libraries open 12:00 to 6:00).

One click away

UW science student on 'The Price Is Right' next week
Rehashing and dissecting the CKMS referendum campaign
'Are we aware?' Imprint editor reflects
UW faculty contribute to book on microwelding
Among this year's ECE student projects: the Bench Buddy
New 'guide to engineering for high school girls'
U of Guelph centre to study mobile devices in education
York U pushing its proposal for medical school
Provincial education ministers want more money from Ottawa
'Canada's mishmash of student aid programs' (University Affairs)
McMaster claims 'top academic library in North America'
New book on 'Teaching, Learning, Assessing'
The switch to digital television: Industry Canada summary
Nominations due for 'promotion of sustainable housing' awards
Gates in the Globe and Mail: what's right with young people today
Scholarships available for students with Crohn's, rheumatoid arthritis
Province kicks in $15 million for Robarts Library expansion
$1,000 prize for 'exactly 100 words' on science
York U gets funding for 'centre of excellence' in French education
Margaret Beckman, former UW and U of Guelph librarian

Carbon footprint calculator is launched

by Andrew Smith, faculty of environmental studies

The faculties of Applied Health Sciences and Environmental Studies are competing for bragging rights using a new university-wide tool for calculating carbon footprints.

Patti Cook, alumni officer in ES, has been co-ordinating the project and explains that “the Zerofootprint University of Waterloo Calculator will allow UW students, staff, and faculty to determine their carbon footprint — the impact we each make on the environment based on our lifestyle.”

The official UW Zerofootprint launch is Thursday at 2:00 p.m. in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. All UW students, staff, and faculty are invited to attend and enjoy refreshments. Deep Saini, Dean of Environmental Studies, and Roger Mannell, Dean of AHS, will be co-hosting the event along with special guest Ron Dembo, engineering alumnus and president of Zerofootprint.

Members of the UW community are being encouraged to register for the online calculator. Once the calculator has quantified your footprint, the website offers advice on how to reduce it through tips. You will be able to run "what-if" scenarios based on the tips you like. These simulations will illustrate the reduction in your footprint. It will allow you to compare your achievements with other individuals or groups, and will enable you to form or join groups that set goals and challenges. Most importantly, the Calculator will enable you to see what an enormous impact the small changes that you make can have when aggregated with those of others.

"Carbon footprint" is a measure of the greenhouse gases an individual, population, product or activity emits. The "carbon" refers to carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gases in general (which are converted to carbon dioxide equivalents for convenience of calculation), the accumulation of which in the atmosphere leads to global warming and climate change.

We produce CO2 emissions, directly or indirectly, whenever we drive our cars, heat our homes, or in a hundred other ways as we go about our daily lives. The primary cause of CO2 emissions is the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, while deforestation for logging or farming is responsible for about a quarter of all emissions. The carbon footprint, calculated in tonnes of CO2, gives us a measure of how much we are contributing to global warming, and enables us to set goals for reducing our emissions and tracking our success.

Back to top

[Her smile and her students' smiles]
Student found Japan 'very different'

by Brandi Cowen, from the Inside Scoop newsletter for co-op students

Phung Lam (pictured), a 4A geography student, spent eight months roaming the Japanese countryside last year. But she wasn’t just taking time out from student life to travel; she was teaching English in rural classrooms as part of the Co-op Japan program.

“My employer was a company called KTC Foreign Language Institute,” Lam explains. “Their main office is in Nagoya, Japan, and they have over 1,200 individual classrooms throughout the country.” Teaching English overseas is something she has always wanted to try, but she’d considered it something to do in between completing her undergraduate degree and attending teachers’ college. When the opportunity to fulfill a dream while earning work term credit presented itself, she jumped at the chance and set off for an unforgettable work term.

“My main responsibility was to teach written and oral English, specifically conversational English, to children between the ages of 3 and 16,” she states, noting that the unique opportunity to work with such a broad range of students was one of the highlights of her term. “I’d teach at four different classrooms a month, which would mean I’d rotate between different classrooms. Overall, I’d see about 300 students a month.”

Another highlight of Lam’s time in Japan might take some people by surprise, but for her, being in rural areas instead of major cities is one of the best parts of the term. “Because the classrooms were located in rural areas, I really got to know what the people were like, learning about their culture and participating in their cultural activities. Japanese are more reserved and they don’t allow anyone, even people they’ve known for years, into their homes. The biggest perk was being able to interact intimately with the students, the parents and the communities I was living in; I got the chance to be in their homes and participate in things that I couldn’t ever possibly do if I were just a tourist there.”

But Lam is quick to note that being in rural areas of Japan also presented challenges that she hadn’t anticipated: “I’d traveled before, and I’d been to places like Hong Kong and had no problems getting by with English. But Japan is very different — you don’t meet a lot of people who can speak English unless you’re in major cities. And so I was there completely on my own; I didn’t know a word of Japanese and that was hard, especially communicating with the students.” Once she settled in, it didn’t take long for her to enrol in Japanese conversation classes, which enabled her to get by in day-to-day life and reminded her of the challenges her students faced when trying to learn a new language.

Although she would love to teach English overseas again, she would be hesitant to return to the KTC Foreign Language Institute. “The experience was so positive and I made so many lasting friendships, I’d always compare it to the last experience and it’s never going to live up to the one that I want it to be. So I would never want to be in a position where I was comparing it, but I would go with a different company.” Considering the unique work experience she had in Japan, her advice to her fellow co-op students isn’t surprising: “Keep an open mind. Be flexible about where you end up because you know that once you’re there, you’ll love it. The experience is what you make of it.”

Back to top

More today (may contain chocolate)

A general meeting of the UW staff association is under way this morning, with an agenda that involves constitutional changes and a boost in the membership fees. The proposal from the association's executive is to introduce a three-tiered fee, depending on the individual member's job classification (and thus, roughly speaking, his or her salary). Those in the highest group would be paying $15 a month, three times the current fee. Association president Jesse Rodgers said yesterday that a couple of hundred proxy forms had come in, representing staff who can't be at the meeting in person but want to be counted in the vote. That's a considerably larger involvement than staff association meetings have often had in the past, and presumably reflects the urgency some staff see in launching the association in a new direction. No, I'm not liveblogging this morning's meeting, but should be able to report tomorrow on how things went.

[Airmail envelope advertises South American cuisine]International Celebrations Week continues, and it sounds as though much of the action today will be at Renison College, with a poster contest display all day in the cafeteria, an "international scavenger quiz" in the same location at noontime, and "free Mexican hot chocolate and treats" from 2:00 to 3:00 at Renison's Ministry Centre. The recently created Waterloo International, a central office for UW's manifold international links and programs, will hold an open house for staff, faculty and students from 1:00 to 3:00 on the first floor of Needles Hall: hors d'oeuvres and desserts from around the world, information about international exchanges and volunteer opportunities. Finally, tonight there's Cultural Caravan with performances from Serbian, Ismaili, Vietnamese, Caribbean, Polish and other student clubs, plus ethnic food and displays, running from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre.

"National Engineers Without Borders Day is March 6, 2008," writes Robin Jardin of the local EWB student chapter. The group "is planning several activities including the opportunity to 'dress down' for the day to support student volunteers travelling overseas this summer. All faculty and staff are encouraged to be orange by purchasing and wearing a fair trade T-shirt. Be Orange is a unique marketing campaign designed to connect socially engaged actions and citizens with the colour orange (similar to that of the environmental movement and the colour green). Three basic ideas are associated with the colour orange: making responsible and ethical consumer choices, taking appropriate civil action, and sharing socially responsible values at home and work. Details on what it means to be orange can be found at online. Be Orange T-shirts are available for $15, and should be pre-ordered online. Shirts can be picked up on March 6 in the Carl Pollock Hall foyer."

The Rainbow Reels “Queer Film Festival”, which starts tomorrow, isn’t being held on campus this year, but is still co-sponsored by the UW-based Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, along with the King Street Theatre Centre. Instead, the 8th annual Rainbow Reels will take place at KSTC’s premises at 36 King Street West in downtown Kitchener. The festival “is sure to add a splash of colour to the local community,” a news release says. “Get ready for five days filled with internationally acclaimed films, like the Italian lesbian drama ‘Shelter Me’, the transgender documentary ‘Boy I Am’, and the spunky rabblerousing ‘Itty Bitty Titty Committee’. Of course the action isn't just in the movies. Opening night is getting a stylish operatic makeover. March 6 starting at 7 p.m., get your chic on for this night of avant-garde entertainment featuring a screening of ‘Puccini for Beginners’. After the show, take in the ‘Love Makes a Family’ exhibit and opening gala with live music, prizes and more. Rainbow Reels is aimed at educating and challenging perceptions of the queer community while bringing some entertainment to people of all orientations.” There’s more information online.

Last Thursday's Daily Bulletin included an article by investment advisor and UW alumnus Parvez Patel with some advice for students facing the need to file income tax returns for 2007. Some of the information in the article, it turns out, was slightly out of date, thanks to a change in federal tax laws that received final approval just before Christmas but was late in being added to the Canada Revenue Agency's web site. The effective value of tax credits for tuition fees and the so-called "education credit" had been 15.25 per cent, as the article said, but is now reduced to 15.0 per cent. Not mentioned in the article at all was the recently created credit for textbook costs, which in effect adds 15 per cent of $65 a month (or $20 a month for part-time students) to the existing education credit. I'm grateful to second-year accounting and financial management student Sarah Chau, who's currently on a work term in the field of tax accounting, and who drew these details to my attention. She also notes a pitfall that some students may encounter in the Ontario property tax credit, one of the many appendages to the tax return. "Students who live on campus in residence," she explains, "can only claim a maximum amount of $25. Students renting out their own places, off campus, can declare the full amount of rent paid."


Back to top

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin