Guest Blog – Virtual internship with CIFOR

Students' workspaceGuest blog by Taelyr Keeley and Abbey Lin

It has officially been six months since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The global pandemic has and will change many aspects of our daily lives. Covid-19 is not only affecting the health of millions, it also has adverse effects on our global economy; specifically, development funding. In the global development sector, funding is extremely important as it allows organizations to do the work that they do; which is vital to our survival. The donor landscape for the development sector is changing rapidly as Covid-19 continues to spread throughout the globe. Many governments are cutting back the amount of funding they issue each year, with the US cutting their development funding the most. Cutting back millions of dollars of development assistance affects the livelihoods of those living throughout the global south. Many rely on the development programs that are created to provide basic services like, food, shelter and healthcare; without these programs people are left behind.

Our internship with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been very rewarding yet challenging. We were able to attend conferences, lectures and meetings that discussed food security, climate change, the changing development landscape, and the donor landscape. All of these topics also paid special attention to how they would be affected by Covid-19. Put simply, without funding from donors, programs cannot happen. When programs cannot happen, this adversely affects the citizens that require these programs.There are scientists all throughout the world working on critical projects. These projects are saving lives and providing livelihoods for millions. An example is the “Governing Multifunctional Landscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa” project led by CIFOR. This project focuses on addressing sustainability in income, food and energy in the rural communities of Kenya which heavily rely on the forests around them. As our world economy is beginning to fail, there is less funding available for government safeguards against Covid-19 let alone funding for development projects. Funding is being redirected because of the global pandemic and it may be hard to predict where the money will go. It is crucial in how we approach donors and let them know how important these projects are.  Throughout our internship, we have had the pleasure of working with different contacts within CIFOR to learn the ins and outs of the donor landscape. We have been able to learn that development programs are equally as important as government safeguards for Covid-19. Climate change is an emergency that needs to be addressed at least the same as Covid-19 or higher; if we do not there will be no planet for us to live on.

Scientists that are currently working for CIFOR are providing necessary research to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change; specifically, in the regions where climate change has the greatest impact. Without this research, millions of people are left vulnerable to these impacts. For a large population in the global south, the impacts are food insecurity, migration, lack of income, etc. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have food on their table, clothes to wear and a roof over their head. The risks of losing development funding on a large scale are immense. Scientists are doing the work that is necessary to improve the lives of millions and lift them out of extreme poverty.

Covid-19 has provided the world with the opportunity to observe how a lower human footprint changes the environment. In Italy, the Venice canals cleared up and ocean-life began to return to the area. In India, you could see the Himalayas for the first time in decades. In China, the smog cleared so much that you could actually see major urban centers again. Covid-19 has shown that the climate can change and adapt. It is our presence that is having the greatest impact. If we can make changes to the way our society behaves post-covid-19 then we can truly mitigate climate change. It is the time that climate change needs to be taken seriously as we have tangible evidence as to the impacts of the human presence.

As we reflect over the last three months that have flown by working with CIFOR; we can’t help but think that we would’ve been writing this from our office in Nairobi, Kenya. Instead, we are writing this from home in Abbotsford, Canada. We are disheartened that the opportunity to live and work abroad was lost but, we appreciate staying home more. This may come across as a weird answer to our readers, but it just makes sense as we end our internship. Yes, we had to stay home and miss out on opportunities of a lifetime, but we got to create an experience of lifetime in a different way. We were able to connect with scientists and colleagues from around the world. Create country profiles and learn from the scientists working in those countries. We got to skype late hours into the night early morning due to time changes; this was very hard for us, don’t be fooled. We also were able to save our carbon footprint of travelling from Canada to Kenya. Though we weren’t able to receive funding for our internship, we were able to allow that funding to be used for future interns. We need to remember that we are doing these things for the bigger picture and that we are contributing to a greater mission; not for our own personal enjoyment to experience travel internationally. Yes, don’t get us wrong, Covid-19 has been extremely difficult in more ways than one. We acknowledge its impact and mourn the countless lives lost.

We have discussed the positives of our internship, it’s time we addressed the negatives. As we were not able to travel to Nairobi, we had to adapt our internship to an online format. This meant meetings, conferences and work was conducted at random times to fit the time zone with whom we were dealing with. An online format also involved the now famous Zoom meetings, we were thankful for the times our camera didn’t have to be on as we were usually in bed.

Working in different time zones is not an easy feat to accomplish; we often were receiving emails days later or at times we were not working. This was difficult as we weren’t able to receive feedback at desired times. We all know how emails work, right? Well, we also had emails get lost in the thirty-email thread or were forgotten by our colleagues. It canbe hard sometimes when you work with very busy people who are more than willing to help but must also deal with schedules, piles of work, and different time zones. Incentives to check in were not as frequent since there is no longer the requirement to be physically present.

An important thing to note, however, is that Covid-19 changed the way a majority of us work. We have to work out the kinks in an online workplace to improve productivity and communication. It was quite the honour to be the guinea pigs of a virtual internship. We were thrown into ground zero of the birth of virtual internships and saw what impacts COVID-19 had made in the world of research and funding. We have been able to learn so much and provide feedback for future virtual interns. We have learned that you don’t need to live in the country where your work is based. This is a capability we never would have considered before; thank you internet! So, a little bit of advice from your summer interns is to not be afraid of a virtual internship. You can learn so much more than imagined! There is no time to wait. Some people may think that doing something virtual isn’t as meaningful or “cool”, but this is the new reality that we are in now. We are trying to find out the issues and solutions to this world and those who truly want to reach out and help will not let something virtual stop them. The show must go on; the world’s issues will not wait, so neither will we!

We’d like to give a huge thanks to CIFOR and UFV for giving us this opportunity in the midst of all these events. It has been truly a meaningful experience to work with the amazing staff of CIFOR who were more than willing to show us their work and how they are going about their work along with the pandemic. We are grateful that UFV coordinated and made this internship happen as it was all definitely worth it. Even though this time we weren’t able to physically experience working with CIFOR; with COVID-19 this is the new norm that must be accepted. Because of COVID-19 we were able to work with scientists and researchers beyond Nairobi, Kenya and got to meet more different people than we would have in person! We may have missed out on the actual physical interaction experience but this internship has set us up for possibly more opportunities to travel when this pandemic is over.

“How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

– Anne Frank

Taelyr Keeley and Abbey Lin are fourth year Global Development Studies students at UFV.

Congratulations to UFV College of Arts graduates of 2020!

Congratulations to the 2020 UFV Arts grads!

Even though we are not physically together, we’re still celebrating you. We’re celebrating how far you’ve come and how far you’ll go. We hope to see you soon and we wish you all the best as you journey forward as future civic and community leaders.

Please enjoy the following congratulatory remarks from a few of our deans, faculty, instructors and staff.

The below message is brought to you by UFV’s College of Arts.

The below message is brought to you by UFV’s Modern Languages Institute.

The below message is brought to you by UFV’s History department.

Yvon Dandurand, Criminology and Criminal Justice Associate Professor writes UNODC Manual

Congratulations to Yvon Dandurand, Professor Emeritus Criminology and Criminal Justice, UFV and recent UFV graduate Jessica Jahn, who recently wrote the “UNODC Manual on the Prevention of Child Recruitment and Exploitation by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups: The Role of the Justice System”. The manual was also released during the Annual Session in Vienna of the United Nations Commission on Crime prevention and Criminal Justice.

Lieutenant Governor’s medal: Leanne Julian an advocate for Indigenous inclusivity

As Leanne Julian stood outside as part of a group of geography students listening to Mt. Lehman community members explain how they wanted to present their community it to the world, she could literally see her father’s home community, the Matsqui First Nation, not far in the distance.

But nobody else seemed to notice.

Read moreLieutenant Governor’s medal: Leanne Julian an advocate for Indigenous inclusivity

Matthew Harty awarded Governor General’s Gold Medal with perfect GPA

Early on in his career at the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), an aspiring Matthew Harty would occasionally help in street-level undercover work during a patrol shift.

“I was quite young, so I was always a student, that was my story,” he says remembering the start of his police career.

He would give the buy money to a drug dealer, and then the signal to his colleagues when it was time to move in.

Read moreMatthew Harty awarded Governor General’s Gold Medal with perfect GPA

The world is a classroom for Global Development Studies major Sterling Ray


UFV is committed to helping students and alumni make an impact locally and beyond. Sterling Ray is a Bachelor of Arts student who has taken that challenge literally.

Ray is leading intercultural initiatives both on campus and abroad, and will be graduating in June 2019 with a Global Development Studies major and an extended minor in Latin American studies.

Read moreThe world is a classroom for Global Development Studies major Sterling Ray

Mapping Ancient Flood Deposits in the Langley Bog: A Student Research Program

Jonathan Hughes

Dr. Jonathan Hughes, UFV Associate Professor, Geography and the Environment, 2018 

“When I first got to UFV in 2006, retiring professor, Don Tunstall, had left this box of Kodachromes on my desk,” says UFV associate professor Dr. Jonathan Hughes, a bio-geographer and paleoecologist in the department of Geography and the Environment.

First used in the 1930s, a Kodachrome is a 35 mm slide used for professional colour photography. “I started looking through them thinking these are kind of interesting” says Hughes. Hughes discovered that the Kodachrome slides had originally come from a local farmer during the 1948 flood, who had recorded images and field notes of damaged properties in the Matsqui and Hatzic areas.

Read moreMapping Ancient Flood Deposits in the Langley Bog: A Student Research Program

Minister of Multiculturalism, Official Languages and La Francophonie for a Weekend

Raymond Kobes, BA, French Major & Business Minor, 2018 

“I went to Victoria for University Model Parliament” says Raymond Kobes. It was there in January 2018, that the UFV French alumnus and member of Universities Model Parliament was selected to be the Minister of Multiculturalism, Official Languages and La Francophonie for a weekend.

“Basically when you go to Model Parliament, it’s as if Ottawa was postponed and you were actually in Ottawa as the official representatives and members of parliament” says Kobes. Over the course of the weekend, Kobes was responsible for three portfolios: Multiculturalism, Official Languages and the French culture.

In this role, Kobes was expected to field questions by the opposition regarding certain bills that related to his area. “It was really neat because there were so many different opinions and different world views… but when it came down to it, we were all there for a common goal of learning how to get involved in the political world and how we can best make a better Canada” he says.

To be an effective member of parliament, Kobes recommends becoming a good orator because a large part of the job will include giving speeches and asking or responding to questions from either side of the House of Commons. He also recommends becoming bilingual. “The best part about [being a Minister] was that I got to use my French in the House… and got to share with other people why those things are important” says Kobes.

Growing up in Abbotsford, Kobes was drawn to politics at an early age and dreamed of one day becoming a member of parliament. “I look forward to my future in politics, hopefully, as a member of parliament in the future and a lot of that has to do with my education here at the University of the Fraser Valley” says Kobes.

Kobes graduated this June 2018 from UFV. He is set to teach French for one year at Credo Christian High School in Langley starting September 2018, and then plans to become heavily involved in the Canadian federal election in 2019.

To watch Raymond’s short video interview, click on the link: https://bit.ly/2NloL72

To watch Raymond’s full video interview, click on the link: https://bit.ly/2mr2vx2

Eyém Sqwà:l – UFV’s Literary Café at the Harrison Festival of the Arts

Eyém Sqwà:l = Strong Words @ the Harrison Festival of the Arts

Date: Monday, July 9 at 8:30pm 2018
Location: Memorial Hall

Tickets: Adult $28.00 ($25 til June 22nd)      Student/Senior $25.00 ( $23 til June 22nd)

UFV’s Literary Café at the Harrison Festival of the Arts offers an intimate opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the West Coast’s brightest writers and poets.

This year’s theme Eyém Sqwà:l : Strong Words, celebrates the voices of two powerful Stó:lō multi-media artists and their oral, performance-based style, along with world-renowned spoken word artist, Shane Koyczan who has been called the “poet of our generation.”

KELIYA

Keliya is a poet, screenwriter, filmmaker and hip hop artist from the Stó:lō Nation. She is also a graduate from the UBC Film Studies Bachelor of Arts program and aims to tell stories about her people that are not only modern and traditional, but also from an Aboriginal perspective.

Keliya has travelled across Canada and the US performing for communities and youth. These are the people for whom she makes her art and she is passionate about spreading messages of empowerment and love in this way.

OSTWELVE

Ronnie Dean Harris aka Ostwelve is a Stó:lō /St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux multimedia artist based in Vancouver, BC. He has worked as an actor and composer on the APTN/Showcase TV series, Moccasin Flats, toured internationally as a hip-hop performer, been a director, programmer and producer for the Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival and is now the Program Director for “Reframing Relations.” This Community Arts Council of Vancouver initiative allows Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to interface with students and youth in schools and communities around the concept of reconciliation. Check out his website @ www.ronniedeanharris.com

SHANE KOYCZAN

Shane Koyczan is an extraordinary talent who has blown the dust off the traditional designation “poet.” He is a writer and multi-media spoken word artist whose work has appeared in print, viral videos, opera and his own furiously-honest, award-winning performances. His first published collection, Visiting Hours, was the only work of poetry selected by both the Guardian and the Globe and Mail for their Best Books of the Year lists in 2005. Koyczan followed up on that success with Stickboy, a novel in verse that chronicled the dark journey of a bullied child. From these words of helpless rage, he was asked to produce the libretto for a full operatic produced by Vancouver Opera in 2014.

Our Deathbeds Will be Thirsty was released in 2012. The book features the piece, “To This Day,” a poem about bullying that went viral on Youtube, receiving over a million views in a matter of days. Most recently Koyczan embarked on a journey to discover his own origin story. One result is the documentary, Shut Up and Say Something, in which he meets his father for the first time. For more information check out: shanekoyczan.com

Helping high school students navigate racial identity

Helping high school students navigate racial identity

 

Anecia Gill, Sociology BA 2017

By creating an anti-racism mentorship workshop that she intends to deliver at Abbotsford high schools this fall, Anecia Gill was able to combine her passions for social theory and her hometown.

Gill’s family has lived in Abbotsford for over 100 years and she feels a strong connection to this place. She is also drawn to sociology thanks to her mother, who took a degree in the same field and had all of her old textbooks on the family bookshelf. Gill completed her own Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at UFV this spring and in her final year she created the workshop in a directed study with Dr. Katherine Watson.

Inspired by critical race theory (DuBois, Fanon), which outlines the complexities of non-white racial identity, she wanted to help young people in Abbotsford navigate this complicated terrain.

“The root of this is the racism they face,” she says. “I’m hoping that I can help explain . . . and legitimize their experiences so that they can better understand themselves and how they fit within society.” Gill notes that when people have theoretical knowledge and vocabulary, they can better articulate their experiences and advocate for themselves within their communities.

Schools, she says, have had a long history acting as gatekeepers for legitimate knowledge, so offering an after-school workshop that attempts to critique power structures seemed like the ideal place. Her intention is for the program to help decolonize and validate non-white identity by legitimizing and supporting the lived realities of non-white students, in particular, Indo-Canadian youth, whom the program targets.

She admits that she can’t teach high school students the ins and outs of critical race theory in five days, but she wants to spark their interest. And in doing so, she hopes to give youth some helpful tools to understand and negotiate their racial identity.

For a taste of what students will learn, check out Gill’s course outline:

Day one: Cultural hegemony and power knowledge – Gramsci and Foucault

Day two: Critical Race Theory – Du Bois and Fanon

Day three: Brown experiences of racism – Said

Day four: Intersectionality of race and gender: a critique of imperialist feminism

Day five: Wrap-up discussion