remembering past selves

August 8, 2010

i’m a bit behind. turning 30 this month, i haven’t been out of school too long, haven’t tried to be in a long relationship since i tried to get out of a bad one, and keep working on other peoples problems… and getting hurt.
i used to be more care-free. the photos from frames i’d been saving for the last 6-7 years are evidence.
the last few days i’ve been contemplating (more) school, international travel and work, and finding my own cave to hide away in…


i just learned a really practical tip for growing tomatoes: add in rocket (or roquette or arugula) at the same time when you’re sowing tomato seeds. by the time that the tomatoes flower, you will have already harvested and enjoyed spicy two rounds of rocket.

good pair from soil to salad

this tasty, space- and time- saving lesson came from a user on youtube called: “The Produce Garden”. the link for this particular tip also includes information about tomato seed saving. The Produce Garden guy has a whole series of videos and I look forward to watching more.

In the meantime, the last great video of his that I watched taught me how to make a homemade pesticide for tomatoes. Like much of his advice, it’s cost-effective and can easily be done organically, without additional chemicals. Simply soap, chilies, and garlic water! See for yourself:

in april 2010, i learned from CBC radio that Nova Scotia is to house Canada’s immigration museum at Pier 21. apparently, the decision was made a couple months prior.

i moved away from there around the same time… with a very dirty taste in my mouth. as a visible minority and racialized, child of two immigrant parents, born, raised, and participant in its institutions, i am less than amused about the potential for the museum to promote the image of Nova Scotia as an accepting place to land.

sure, my parents lived the “american dream”. but they suffered horribly due to barriers that were explicit forms of racial discrimination. many social science undergraduate students in Canada will know of the injustices to black high school students in Cole Harbour, that, until recently,were purported by officials as merely teen antics.

in my own experience, i saw “white vs black” battles split student bodies, my multi-cultural group of friends separate into social cliques and physical ghettos, was called every slur-name in the book as a kid, and cat-called every exotic-name as a teen. as an adult, i witness others go through the same experiences as my parents, and as i have and did while living there most recently.

in my wildest dreams, the museum will ratify the injustices that occurred, and continue to occur to immigrants establishing themselves in NS. realistically, i know this highly unlikely. i’m sorry.

excuse me as i raise a weary eyebrow to the state’s “sorry” state. even for Nova Scotia’s most recent apology and pardon for the racist jailing of viola desmond for sitting in the whites’ section of a theatre over 60 years ago. i can’t help but think it’s all part of a multicultural public relations campaign to attract international students, new immigrants, and tourists from the rest of Canada, who may be inclined to go… say, anywhere else instead.

surely i understand the desire to attract “foreign investment” to this province, but i could not comfortably recommend NS as a good place for any visible minority that is new to Canada. Immigrant integration services are sparse and tools to succeed as an international student suck compared to many cities in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. of course, maybe that’s the point? the province one “lands” in gets a huge lump sum, whether or not one stays. international students pay tuition fees that are nearly three times more than the price for domestic students. whereas both student groups have similar attrition rates, the internationals have often been fiercely hunted to bolster the domestics. one failed international student + one failed domestic student = tuition for one 4-year domestic undergraduate. better yet, if the international student makes it to year 2 on his/her own volition, marks for the student body go up and the university now gets the equivalent of 5-6 years of tuition.

at best, i perceive government messaging to “incorporate” immigrants as well-meaning but offensive; and partly to blame for reifying model minority stereotypes. this leaves individuals stuck on un-learning the spectrum of stereotypes from the media around them, (potentially, hopefully?, with the help of this “immigration museum”), rather than in a face-to-face dialogue.

i thought that i would begin a new blog today. the one you’re reading has been around and back again, with disorder as a theme and infrequent posts, often representing (or reflecting) my musings as a professional full-time graduate student and samplings of careers ranging from… well, actually, i don’t write as often as i should. there have been many. many many!

the new blog would have chronicled my efforts to streamline, and as far as blogs go, i figured it would be a theme i could stick to. plot: the evolution of a non-nerd.

i’ve been imagining starting anew. but i thought it might be premature to be stake my claim at a new life. it’s only a few days before i will know whether or not i will matriculate into a doctoral program. or rather, when i get “that letter” that tells me that the academy (and thus my mother) thinks i’m good enough.

i can’t deny that i want to know and it means a great deal to me too. but i’m quite realistically pessimistic about my chances to gain admission in the one and only school that i applied to, and even in my wildest dreams, i’m unsure about whether or not i would got in.

always with my hands in several pots, that means i have begun preparing for another life – outside academia. really. no looking back, no university-community research gigs for insecure and insensitive, asshole, non-paying principle investigators (dude. i just said, i’m trying to start anew. browse my blog to piece together who is the witch). it’s time to make something of myself.

that’s how far i got. so, you see, i really am at the very beginning phase of thinking of a non-academic me.

today, i picked up the 2010 version of “What Color is Your Parachute?”. once upon an undergrad job, i was a career advisor. i encountered phd students days from defending, in tears, asking little ol’ me what they should do with their lives?! i kept on. now, for the first time, i’ll read one of these career books for real.
I’ll let you know how it goes…

One of two ways potential students from China are recruited includes “…shapely models in tiny silver dresses who paraded back and forth along a lit catwalk, waving scarves covered in red maple leaves and the word “Canada””, as reported by Mark MacKinnon in his article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail article. While Recruiting Chinese Students: A Work In Progress, and readers’ comments take voice many concerns, there are two that have received little or no attention: a) globalization of ideas (e.g. race, citizenship, modernity, etc.) according to neoliberal market schemes for education, and b) accountability of actors like Jin Jielie Group, that is “specializes in matching Chinese students with foreign schools”. The former is far too lengthy and complicated for me to think through and present here. The latter does not preclude responsibility of schools, governments, communities that support services of recruiters, and do not follow-through with products that can be likened to those flashed to would-be buyers, by Jin Jielie Group.

Someone must be paying Jin Jielie Group. Someone is not paying or saving from the incredible international tuition fees that Chinese and other foreign students must pay to attend school in Canada.

And while we’re at it… How about the “multicultural” ads for universities that are just not much (of anything) more than a bunch of local residents’ “next step” after high school. If universities are in the game of business (and they are), where and with whom can customers (misled as they [likely] may be) able to seek counsel? Who is accountable?!

Generally speaking, private high schools and larger universities provide excellent “customer service”. Positive student/parent experiences provide long-term outcomes and branding… here and abroad. It is the quick and dirty practices of smaller, financially insecure, reputably weaker institutions that are disconcerting. They grant admission to just about any foreign student (e.g. required LSAT score is very low, encourage non-degree status with empty promises, discriminate against them for on-campus job opportunities). These smaller schools push the photo of token multiculturalism, but after first installments of international student tuition is banked, students are left to fail and go home in shame.

In consideration of school reputations worldwide, small & weak Canadian schools have sought low levels to compete. It’s a sexy sham.

My advice: small or large university, stick to those with better research reputations. They are less likely to cheaply sell themselves (unfortunately, it’s because they need good students in their puppy-mills to support research outputs, but hey! at least there’s something in it for students too).

culture, race, and food

March 12, 2010

all things (e.g. decor, ingredients, location, etc.) equal, are you willing to pay an equally high bill for “ethnic food” and “french food”?

why are we so caught up with “hole in the wall” dining establishments? is the food better? maybe.

would you eat at a dingy purveyor of california cuisine?

why are people so hung up on the skin colour of the chef, rather than his/her skill set?

ever heard of ethnically Chinese people rationalizing giving lower tips at Chinese restaurants?

please leave contact info if this post is of interest to you. i’m looking to start discussions towards action!

i have heard numerous stories about abuse of employees that have been reasoned and/or withstood due to the state of economy. unpaid wages for regular and overtime hours worked, unrecognized contributions, and other abuse from employers.
i’ve experienced this recently too.
how about you? what can be done?