Thank you to all who participated in UBC Library’s first Living Library event. This website will be updated with information about our next Living Library event shortly.
About Our Living Library Event:
On Wednesday, September 22, UBC Library came alive with its first-ever “Living Library” event – an occasion that allowed participants to meet a collection of fascinating figures, including students from Afghanistan and Nigeria, gay writers, a pioneering doctor, an extreme athlete/traveller and more.
A Living Library features real, live people who are “lent out” as “books,” and speak about their lives and experiences, to interested users. So, for example, a user could sign up to talk to an Afghani student about life in Afghanistan, his wartime experiences and struggles, and his experiences coming to Canada. Someone else may want to speak to an esteemed female doctor who has been recognized for her exemplary research and her success in a male-dominated field. And yet another participant may want to talk to a writer about the creative process, and about the ways his views on identity, gender and sexuality inform his writing.
The idea is to introduce people to a collection of individuals who come from different walks of life and realities compared to their own. It’s an attempt to promote diversity and share a broad range of views and opinions – all within a context of respect and intellectual curiosity.
The event ran for three hours, and twice an hour Living Library candidates were available to talk to a member of the public for about 20 minutes.
For more information, please contact Glenn Drexhage, Communications Manager, at 604-827-3434 or email@example.com.
This year’s Living Library participants included:
- Dr. Judith Hall, a pioneering female UBC professor and physician
- Raul Pacheco-Vega, a UBC Poli Sci instructor and social media maven
- Michael V. Smith a gay interdisciplinary artist, an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at UBC Okanagan and occasional clown
- David Watmough, a long-established gay BC writer, author, critic and broadcaster
- Joanne Ursino, an advisor in UBC’s equity office, an active member of the queer community, a textile artist and a book maker
- Darrell Bailie, a librarian and extreme athlete/adventurer
- Andrew Chima Akomas, a UBC student from Nigeria who is blind
- Alyas Omeed, a UBC student from Afghanistan
- Rimple Cheema and Lisa Sun, UBC students and participants in the Social Entrepreneurship 101 program
FOR FULL BIOGRAPHIES, PLEASE SEE BELOW
Dr. Judith Hall
Dr. Judith Hall, Professor Emerita in the Departments of Medical Genetics and Pediatrics, is a pioneering UBC professor and physician. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has won the Outstanding Faculty Community Service Award, part of the 2009 UBC Alumni Achievement Awards.
Dr. Hall is a leading pediatrician and clinical geneticist who has focused her research on disorders of growth, such as dwarfism, and birth defects, such as spina bifida and congenital contractures. She is also concerned with the place of women in academia, science and medicine.
She is driven by curiosity, sees her field as an art as much as a science, and enjoys her work so much she tends to take little time off. The results have been prolific. During more than 30 years of clinical research Dr. Hall has identified many new syndromes (two bear her name) and documented the natural history of many others. She has also discovered the mechanisms behind many disorders and developed new ways to classify them. She has published more than 290 original articles – some considered classics – and 10 books, two of them award-winning. Her Handbook of Normal Physical Measurements is essential for physicians specializing in growth disturbances in children.
Dr. Hall was educated and spent her early career in the US, where she studied under Victor McKusick, widely regarded as the founder of modern medical genetics. She moved to Vancouver in 1981, becoming a UBC professor of Medical Genetics and director of Genetic Services for BC and, later, Head of the Department of Pediatrics at UBC and BC Children’s Hospital. She is based at the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia.
Although Dr. Hall is a world authority in her field, her biggest motivation has been translating discovery into clinical care and improved treatments. To this end she has devoted countless volunteer hours driving professional standards, providing advice to patients and caregivers, and developing links with lay support groups.
She has served on parent support boards, written newsletter articles in layperson’s language and been instrumental in developing the resources, services and care guidelines so vital for coping with genetic illnesses. She also advocates for research into rare disorders. Dr. Hall has been honoured with life membership in Little People of America.
Dr. Hall has also done much to set high standards for her profession. She has held many senior roles in major national and international science and medicine organizations, helping them to reshape priorities and commitments. Her volunteering includes board work for the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the International Pediatric Association, the Vancouver Foundation, the Medical Research Foundation of Canada (now the Canadian Institutes of Health Research), the US and Canadian Children’s Miracle Networks, Genome Canada, and the Canadian Council of Academies. She has received many prestigious awards including a Senior Killam Prize for Research and the Ross Award from the Canadian Pediatric Society.
Raul Pacheco-Vega is a Vancouver-based researcher, educator and consultant in environmental politics and policy. He has conducted research in the field of environmental public policy and politics for over 10 years. He studied at the Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico and at UBC, where he earned his Ph.D. in Resource Management and Environmental Studies. Pacheco-Vega is an Instructor in the Department of Political Science at UBC and the Regional Director, Western Canada, for the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP).
He began writing a personal blog in 2006 to document his comings-and-goings (he has lived in Canada, England and Mexico over the years, although he considers Vancouver his home). As his readership grew, he began exploring a number of social networking sites and now frequently speaks and consults on topics of online community-building, the use of social platforms in education and social media in public policy and politics. In addition, in 2009 his personal blog was nominated at the Canadian Blog Awards in the Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and Best Overall Blog categories in 2009.
His main teaching interests include environmental politics, public policy, water governance, urban and economic geography and comparative and global environmental politics. His geographical area of expertise is North America (Canada, US, Mexico). Pacheco-Vega’s research is broad and interdisciplinary for environmental problem-solving. He has conducted independent research on wastewater governance, comparative environmental policy in North America, urban sustainability and environmental NGO mobilizations.
Pacheco-Vega sits on the editorial board of the international, peer-reviewed journal Water International, and has conducted peer reviews for The Journal of Cleaner Production and Water Alternatives, amongst others.
Michael V. Smith
Michael V. Smith is an interdisciplinary artist who works as a writer, filmmaker, performance artist and occasional clown. He is also an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan. Smith is an MFA grad from UBC’s Creative Writing program.
His research interests include small town narratives, community building, identity & belonging, queer studies, documentary techniques in narrative film-making, performance art, gender construction, independent film and video, and DIY strategies.
As writer, Smith works with small town stories, examining issues of class, identity, community and belonging. His novel, Cumberland (Cormorant Books), was nominated for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. His first book of poetry, What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions), was nominated for the ReLit Prize. Most recently, he’s published a hybrid book of concrete poems (which are photographs) titled Body of Text, created with David Ellingsen.
Smith and Ellingsen have also been working on other hybrid works, marrying performance art with photography to examine identity.
In recent years, Smith won Vancouver’s Community Hero of the Year Award and the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Award for Emerging Gay Writers. He’s also won a Western Magazine Award for Fiction, scooped a number of short film prizes in various international festivals, and was nominated for the Journey Prize.
His videos have played around the world, in cities such as Milan, Dublin, Turin, London, New York, Toronto, Paris, Geneva, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Bombay.
Vancouver Magazine named him one of the city’s 25 most influential gay citizens and Loop Magazine listed him as one of Vancouver’s Most Dangerous People.
For more information, please visit http://michaelvsmith.com/michaelv_intro.htm
David Watmough, born in London, England, is a long-established BC writer and author of a cycle of fictions that features gay “everyman” Davey Bryant, who has appeared in 12 volumes, including No More into the Garden (1978), Unruly Skeletons (1982), The Year of Fears (1987), The Time of Kingfishers (1994) and Hunting with Diana (1996). Watmough is also a playwright, short-story writer, critic, broadcaster, and the author of nine other books. In 2008, he published his autobiography, Myself Through Others: Memoirs.
Watmough immigrated to Canada in 1960 and became a Canadian citizen in 1967. During the 1970s, he performed widely, and wrote and published several collections of short stories and monodramas. He made an LP recording entitled Pictures from a Dying Landscape and received a Canada Council Senior Arts award in 1976. From 1979 to 1981, he hosted his own arts programme, ArtsLib, for CBC Television. He edited the Vancouver Fiction anthology and wrote The Unlikely Pioneer, a history of Western Canadian opera centering on Irving Guttman, with both books appearing in 1985.
In the 1980s, Watmough contributed to a number of anthologies, published a second novel – The Year of Fears – and continued to write numerous short stories, some of which were published in three collections: The Connecticut Countess, Fury and Vibrations in Time. The latter was also released as a recording on compact disc and cassette.
From 1991 to 1993 he was a regular columnist for Vancouver’s Step magazine. He completed a third novel published in 1992 (Thy Mother’s Glass) published a fourth in 1994 (The Time of the Kingfishers) and continued to write short stories. Watmough recently published two volumes of sonnets (Coming Down the Pike and Eyes and Ears of Boundary Bay), published by Ekstasis Editions. Ekstasis will bring out Watmough’s novel, To Each An Albatross, in 2011.
For more than half a century, Watmough has been engaged in writing not only as an author and activist, but also as a correspondent with many literary figures, notably W. H. Auden, Margaret Laurence, Timothy Findley, Maria Tippett and Jane Rule, as well as visual artists such as John Koerner and Gordon Smith.
Awards recognizing Watmough’s literary contributions include Canada Council senior arts grants in 1976 and 1986; and a Province of British Columbia Arts Award for creative writing, 1994-95.
Joanne Ursino joined UBC’s Equity Office in April 2009. She brought over 20 years of experience in employment equity, having previously worked with the Federal Labour Program both nationally and regionally. Active in the trade union movement, Ursino was a National Officer with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), and has developed and facilitated numerous workshops on employment equity and human rights, most recently with the Joint Learning Program, a partnership between the PSAC and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
Ursino is also an out and active member of the queer community in Vancouver. She participated in the first Pride Conferences organized by the Canadian Labour Conference and later by the PSAC.
Ursino played a leadership role in building a more inclusive union movement – these efforts included constitutional changes, changes to budgets, strategic planning and the implementation of a wide range of equity initiatives. She was also involved in political action – including building occupations, strikes and other demonstrations.
As an Equity Advisor with a focus on Employment Equity, Ursino’s role includes working with members of the University community in the development and implementation of the UBC Employment Equity Plan and related initiatives to assist UBC in meeting the requirements of the Federal Contractor’s Program. She also is one of five facilitators in the UBC Positive Space campaign.
Ursino is a graduate of Brock University, with a major in Politics specializing in International Relations. She undertook graduate studies at Carleton University in Conflict Analysis, and studied at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Ursino is also a textile artist – contributing to political expression through the creation of quilts. The first in a series of three large, signature quilts hangs on the ground floor of the PSAC office in Ottawa. These quilts represent the expressions of more than 2,000 trade unionists, feminists and queer activists at the turn of the millennium in Canada. She also designs, makes and binds books by hand.
She is a past member of the Board of Pride in Art and a contributor to the 2008 PIA Festival: Gender Twist.
Darrell Bailie is a reference librarian at UBCs Koerner Library who covers the Classics, Religion and Economics. But that’s just the beginning – he’s also an extreme athlete and traveller. Bailie is a 17-time Ironman competitor (this intense triathlon consists of a near four-kilometre swim, a 180-plus kilometre bike ride and a marathon). He is a two-time Olympic triathlon distance competitor at the age-group world championship, and has also completed about 60 marathons. He has participated in ski races, canoe races, all sorts of running races and many triathlons of varying distances.
Bailie’s passion for mountain and volcano climbing has also enabled him to travel to some fantastic locations including Aconcagua and Cotopaxi in the Andes, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Illiniza Norte in Ecuador, Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus mountain range and many others.
Andrew Chima Akomas (who goes by Chima) was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba but grew up in Umuahia, a town in southeastern Nigeria, West Africa. His parents returned to Nigeria with him and his two older siblings after completing their graduate studies at the University of Manitoba.
Life in Nigeria seemed normal to Chima, but in retrospect it was quite a struggle – and one that his parents, who were civil servants, took on while caring for a family of six.
Chima returned to Canada in 2003 to continue his education and weigh the possibility of a career in Canada. He was interested in jazz and business. After having one foot in each camp at school, he ended up majoring in Commerce when he came to UBC in 2007. Chima recently declared his specialization in human resources management, with hopes of graduating in 2011. He would love to work for Export Development Canada; he likes international trade, international finance, international politics, international business –anything with an “international” aspect.
Chima has had three major transforming experiences in his life: the transition from Nigeria to Canada; the transition from being sighted to being blind; and the transition from having few health problems to recovering from life-threatening surgeries.
“When I arrived in Vancouver in the summer of 2007, it was a bit of a shock to me,” explains Chima. “The people looked different, they spoke different, they ate different, they had a different sense of humor and they socialized differently. They wore different clothes, and had different interests and passions and jobs. And finally, the climate was certainly different.”
As Chima endeavored to be more “Canadian” and started adapting, he also started losing sight of everything…literally. He started to go blind.
He says he could (and hopefully will, someday) write a book about his experiences being blind. For now, he is glad that he’s in Canada where there is the science, technology, support and opportunities for blind persons and people with disabilities to lead a “normal” life.
Chima, who has been blind for three years, says he visualizes things based on other types of sensory information he receives. “I see things differently now, more of what I want to see – I create my own world in my head, and combined with what is happening around me, it’s real!”
When he was in Nigeria, Chima was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissue. As a result, he has undergone some major operations in Canada, which he says is the reason he is still alive. He has successfully recovered and remains dedicated to pursuing his Bachelor of Commerce degree. He wants the hard-copy proof of his hard work, persistence and determination.
Chima is always positive and cheerful, and says his drive comes from within. “It could be God, or my passions, or maybe both!” he explains. “I want to keep moving on, taking the next step, you know? Just keep it going; do the best I can, given my circumstances.”
Rimple Cheema and Lisa Sun
Rimple Cheema and Lisa Sun are both UBC students and participants in the SE101 program (aka Social Entrepreneurship 101) from the Sauder School of Business. This is a three-week course where students from UBC and Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, teach young Kenyans how to write business plans (more information is at www.africa.sauder.ubc.ca)
Rimple Cheema was born and raised in Abbotsford, BC. She is in her fourth year at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, specializing in accounting. Cheema hopes to pursue a career as a Chartered Accountant and has gained experience in the accounting field. She has a strong interest in helping those in need, especially youth, and has been involved in a youth improvement program called the Abbotsford Youth Commission. Currently, Cheema is part of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) where she helps out at the front desk and is involved in organizing CCS fundraisers. She was thrilled to use the skills she has obtained in her four years at Sauder to make a difference in Kenya alongside her SE101 2010 teammates.
Lisa Sun was born in South Africa, and came with her family to Canada when she was four years old. She is in her second year at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, specializing in accounting. She has been actively involved at UBC and in the community, and is currently an assistant director of the Nitobe Basketball League at UBC REC and is the treasurer of ICON (aka I-Connect, an AMS club). Last year Sun was the Logistics Associate for the Collegiate Sports Business Conference. She has been a basketball coach and loves playing competitive team sports, particularly basketball and ultimate frisbee. Because of her passion to help others, Sun has always wanted to go on a trip that makes a positive social change abroad, and SE101 turned this dream into a reality. During the project, she learned more about the culture, business practices and the impact of microfinancing on start-up businesses in Kenya. Sun was excited to be a part of this team and to make a difference in the lives of Kenyan youth.
The Living Library concept dates to 2000, when the first such event was organized in Denmark. For more information, please visit http://humanlibrary.org .
UBC Library would like to acknowledge the input and assistance from Douglas College and the Coquitlam Public Library for this special event.