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Thursday, February 3, 2011

  • Lunar new year introduces the Rabbit
  • CIGI partnership aims at 'new thinking'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Placards in English and French]

The Egyptian Student Association mounted a demonstration in the arts quadrangle during yesterday's snow, calling attention to the dramatic protests under way in their homeland this week. "Thirty years of Mubarak is enough," says the French-language sign at centre, referring to authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, whose departure has been demanded by crowds in the streets of Cairo.

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Lunar new year introduces the Rabbit

Today marks the first day of the lunar new year, as most East Asian cultures mark what’s sometimes called the “spring festival” in the midst of Ontario snow. Meals and parties on campus and across the world mark the date, as the “year of the rabbit”, one of a dozen animals that make up the East Asian calendar, began with the coming of the new moon last night. Observances for the start of year 4708 will continue until the Lantern Festival, two weeks away.

[Rabbit with calligraphy]The conventional cry is the Chinese words for a happy new year — “Gung hai fat choi!” — but the festival isn't just a Chinese one. The lunar new year (so called because it’s signaled by the phases of the moon) is observed by overlapping communities that include Chinese (themselves speakers of two main languages, Mandarin and Cantonese) and a dozen or more other groups.

Although the most prominent East Asian population in Kitchener-Waterloo as a whole is Vietnamese, on campus the largest group is Mandarin-speaking Chinese. Mandarin is the national language of China, the tongue spoken in Beijing, Nanjing and other mainland regions, and also in Taiwan. Another large group of Chinese at the university speaks the country’s second main language, Cantonese, which predominates in southern regions such as Guangzhou as well as the autonomous region of Hong Kong.

“The Spring Festival is the most important festival celebrated by Chinese,” says Maggie Xiaohui Liang of the university’s International Student Office. “It is also celebrated in many Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam.” As for the rabbit who presides over the year ahead, “It is supposed to be a peaceful year, very much welcomed and desired after the fierce year of the tiger.”

Major celebrations of the festival usually extend over the first three days of the two-week “festival”, Liang said. “The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important meal of the year when students and workers from far away need to go home and reunite with family members.” (She confides that some East Asians on campus would have welcomed a snow day yesterday to provide a little extra time for family celebrations.)

Waterloo, she estimates, has “around 3,000” international students and permanent residents from East Asian countries. And that’s not counting Canadians who can trace family roots to those lands and so “may inherit this tradition from their parents and celebrate it too.”

[Emcee and female singer]The result: “There are lot of formal and informal celebration in students’ groups and faculties. For example, on January 21 the Chinese Scholars and Students Association held its spring festival gala (left). It has become a tradition for the CSSA for the last decade.”

Liang says such celebrations have special importance for students who find themselves half a world away from family members. “Having a party with other east Asian students can help them feel less homesick,” she says, “that they have a place and time to celebrate it in Canada. Hagey Hall was packed with around 700 people. There was dancing, singing, comedy shows and games. Students were very excited to participate and show their talents in different activities.”

Other celebrations are also scheduled, she said, including a Chinese meal in the faculty of environment tomorrow, and a party organized by the Chinese Professors Association on February 12. On February 14, the Nanjing University Traditional Instrument Orchestra from China will give a concert at Federation Hall, sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Renison College. Admission to the 7 p.m. event is free.

[Calligraphy with brushes and red paper]Says Liang: “I am happy to attend different activities held by people from East Asian countries and Canadians. Although many of us can not go back to our hometown to enjoy the celebration, I together with many other people feel that some forms of celebrations such as parties, presentations and dinners make us feel that spring festival is a very important festival in Canada and my culture is valued and respected.”

Her own contribution to the new year celebration was a lunchtime event on Tuesday (right) in the Waterloo International meeting room, under the title “What is Chinese New Year?”. Traditional snacks such as lucky candies and sesame cookies were served, members of the Hu Lu Si club sang, and there was a chance to try out Chinese crafts: “People were very happy to get some festival blessing phrases such as ‘ten thousand good wishes’ in Chinese calligraphy,” Liang says. “They were so interested in learning about our culture and our customs. We are happy to share with them and let everybody know that spring festival is an important part of our life no matter where we are in the world.”

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CIGI partnership aims at 'new thinking'

The Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation has announced “a new partnership” with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, a nonprofit organization founded in New York two years ago. The arrangement, “aimed at furthering their complementary missions”, was announced in Switzerland during the high-profile World Economic Forum in Davos. 

Under the agreement, CIGI will provide $25 million over five years to support joint CIGI-INET activities. “Both organizations,” says a news release, “are committed to broadening and accelerating the development of innovative thinking that will lead to insights and solutions for the great economic and governance challenges of the 21st century.”

The release explains that INET, “founded in 2009 in response to the global financial crisis, is a non-profit organization providing fresh insight and thinking to promote changes in economic theory and practice through conferences, grants and education initiatives.

“CIGI, founded in 2001, is an independent, nonpartisan think tank addressing international governance challenges through research and policy development. It aims to develop policy innovations, create capacity and build networks, all to contribute to the achievement of a more prosperous, sustainable, equitable and peaceful world.”

Says George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC and founding sponsor of INET: “The partnership between CIGI and INET is a very fortunate one because both organizations are guided by the same respect for integrity and impartiality in research. This partnership will expand INET’s programs into Canada and function as a catalyst for and the development of research in economics and governance worldwide.”

Meanwhile, CIGI founder and chair Jim Balsillie says: “I think this partnership has enormous potential for two world-class organizations to bring together their unique areas of strength. Each of us brings something different to the table, CIGI with its focus on global governance and INET with its focus on rethinking our economic models. It’s a perfect fit.”

INET’s initiatives include research grants designed to harness the new economic thinking that is crucial to effecting change; a campus outreach program that sees Nobel Laureates and world-renowned scholars visiting graduate students in economics to promote education, discourse and the sharing of new ideas; and an events program aimed at fostering open discussion, transparency and the amplification of fresh ideas.

Under the new partnership, the news release says, these activities — including the grants and campus outreach — would be extended to Canada. “As well, CIGI and INET are exploring a joint conference on the global economy to be held at CIGI’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. As the partnership develops, CIGI and INET will consider additional joint activities to further their common mission.”

Says CIGI executive director Thomas A. Bernes: “I think this is a highly complementary partnership between CIGI and INET that will enhance the capacity of both institutions to make a major contribution toward finding solutions for the global challenges we face.”

CIGI, based in the landmark Seagram building at the corner of Erb and Caroline Streets, is independent of the University of Waterloo, but has close links, and the two institutions, along with Wilfrid Laurier University, jointly operate the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

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[Showing the moves on a lecture hall floor]

That's FASS, if you can overlook the absence of costumes and scenery, the use of a lecture hall for rehearsal instead of the Humanities Theatre stage, and of course the music that you can't hear right now. It'll all come together, including the bad jokes, as "FASS of the Titans" hits the stage in four performances tonight through Saturday. There's no more venerable Waterloo tradition, as the FASS Theatre Company has been doing what it does since 1962. Whatever that is.


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Link of the day

The day the music died

When and where

Employer interviews for spring term co-op jobs (“main” group of students) through February 16. Ranking opens February 16 at 1 p.m., closes February 18 2 p.m., results available 4 p.m.. Details.

Canadian Association of Planning Students annual national conference at Waterloo Thursday-Saturday. Details.

Imaginus Poster Sale today 9 to 8, Friday 9 to 5, Student Life Centre.

Chinese New Year lunch 11:30 to 1:30, Bon Appetit cafeteria, Davis Centre.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Teaching-Based Research” 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

UW Sustainability Project planning meeting for June 17 conference, 7:00, UWSP office, Student Life Centre.

Warrior men’s hockey at Guelph 7:30 p.m.

Rockstar karaoke at the Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre, from 8 p.m.

Distinguished Teacher Award nominations due Friday. Details.

‘Fourth Natures: Mediated Landscapes’ conference at Architecture building, Cambridge, Friday-Saturday, public welcome. Details.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Shawn Winnington-Ball, “Cfengine Configuration Management on Linux” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” February 4 and March 4 at 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Superbowl lunch at  Festival Fare cafeteria, South Campus Hall,  Friday 11:00 to 1:45.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Scott Sloka, Grand River Hospital, “Integrating Imaging, Medicine and Science” Friday 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

Philosophy colloquium: Marguerite Deslauriers, McGill University, “Aristotle’s Objections to Socratic Proposals on Women” Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest to choose spring term courses, February 7-12. Open enrolment begins February 14. Details.

Frank Esch and Andy Newman, plant operations, retirement reception Monday 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP ext. 36822.

Treat-a-gram delivery in support of Keystone Campaign, order deadline February 8, delivery on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Details.

Federation of Students annual election, polls open February 8 (9 a.m.) through February 10 (9 p.m.). Details.

School of Accounting and Finance Sun Life Financial Lecture: Deborah Moor, president, Lloyd’s Canada, “The Aftermath of the Financial Crisis” February 15, 4:30, Hagey Hall room 1101, reception follows. Register.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Director of advancement and public affairs, Stratford campus, USG 14
• Admissions assistant, registrar's office, USG 5
• Manager, continuing professional education, school of pharmacy, USG 12
• Medial microbiology lab instructor/ coordinator, school of pharmacy, USG 10
• Institutional analyst, institutional analysis and planning, USG 10-12
• Undergraduate advisor/ coordinator (computer engineering), electrical and computer engineering, USG 5 (13-month secondment or contract)

['Stubborn to a fault since 1957']

Spotted outside the Grad House yesterday, when some things across the campus were in less than full operation. The university remained open through the snowstorm, but the Job Fair was cancelled, and late in the day so was the community "update" event to be held by the Stratford campus. It'll be rescheduled.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin