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Extending Their Boundaries: Alexis McCormack and Hannah Johnston Reflect on the First Month of Their Exchange to South Korea

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Alexis McCormack and Hannah Johnston are one month into a semester-long exchange to South Korea and have already been impacted by their experiences inside and outside of the classroom.

McCormack and Johnston, both of Hartland, NB, decided to spend the first semester of their fourth year fully immersed in the culture of another country. What they’ve learned so far—about South Korea and about themselves—has made a lasting impression.

“I’ve had to learn to adapt and communicate without knowing much Korean, and this has definitely changed how I view language. It’s made me realize how much we take the ability to communicate with the people living in our country for granted,” Johnston said.

For McCormack, who is working toward honours in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, a kind gesture from a local bridged the gap between culture and language.

“After having hiked a mountain, an older gentleman greeted my friends and I. He asked if we were students and what country we were from,” McCormack said.
 
“He didn’t know any English and I only knew enough Korean to answer those questions, but for a moment we were all experiencing the hike and the view together, despite the language barrier, our ages, our cultures, and our personal histories.”

Although travelling to another country can seem overwhelming, Johnston, who is double majoring in English and History, felt it was important to extend her boundaries.

“Your university years are a time when you’re figuring out who you are as a person, and going on exchange really forces you to learn a lot about yourself,” she said.

“This experience has taught me that I’m much more adaptable than I thought I was, and it’s also changed my outlook for the future.  Although I still want to teach English abroad, I’ve realized how important it is to focus on my own country—to teach English to immigrants coming to Canada to ease their transition to a new country, because I know now how difficult that can be.”

The pair intends to see and learn as much as they can in the time they have left in South Korea. 

“I’ve become more aware of how quickly time passes,” McCormack said, “and how important it is to learn and to appreciate each other, our days, and ourselves.”

Exchange Opportunities at St. Thomas

St. Thomas has agreements with several universities around the world, allowing students to spend a semester or year in another country while earning university credit for classes taken while there. International Exchange destinations include: Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey.

Award-winning Writer Christine Morris Named 2017 Irving Chair in Journalism

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, October 16, 2017
Award-winning journalist Christine Morris will be the Irving Chair in journalism for 2017-2018.
 
A former writer for the Halifax Herald, the Canadian Press, and the Telegraph-Journal, Morris will spend 10 weeks on campus during the academic year working with students and teaching classes. She will also give a public lecture.
 
“I’m looking forward to meeting the students and helping them hone their skills in whatever way I can,” Morris said. “The ability to write with accuracy and clarity is wonderful to have in any field, especially journalism. Our craft is evolving very quickly, but strong writing will always have a preeminent place.”
 
Morris, of Halifax, NS, holds degrees from Saint Mary’s University, the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, Queen’s University, and Western University. She began her journalism career in 1975 with a position at the Herald, before moving on to the Canadian Press where she spent the majority of her working years.
 
“I was an arts student at university. I couldn’t do math or science, but I always liked writing,” Morris said. “I enjoy meeting people and travel, so journalism seemed perfect. In over 40 years, there was never a day when I wished I was doing something else.”
 
Morris served as a Washington correspondent during the Bill Clinton presidency and spent time in the USSR on two different occasions chronicling the disintegrating Soviet system. She has been nominated for National Newspaper Awards four times and won twice—once as part as of the Canadian Press team that covered the Swissair tragedy and once as part of the Brunswick News team that covered the Richard Oland murder and police investigation.
 
Morris has also received lifetime achievement awards from St. Thomas and from the Atlantic Journalism Association.
 
Irving Chair in Journalism
 
The Irving Chair in Journalism is a $1-million endowment of the Irving family that brings a distinguished journalist to St. Thomas University annually. 

Previous chair holders are Jane Purves, Neil Reynolds, Patrick Martin, Stevie Cameron, Michael Harris, Jan Wong, Francine Pelletier, Bernie Lucht, Talin Vartanian, David Adams Richards, Ros Guggi, and Peter Simpson.

An Opportunity for Kindness: Jenicca Jean gifts Diana Chavez the chance to go home for Christmas

PUBLISHED DATE: Friday, October 13, 2017
One reason Diana Chavez, of Quito, Ecuador, chose St. Thomas was for its tight-knit and welcoming community—something she experienced first-hand during her first week on campus.

Chavez was at Casino Night and was vying for the grand prize: a $300 Air Canada gift card. Her intention was to put the prize toward a flight home at Christmas, which could cost up to $1,200.

“Although I’m here on a scholarship, my parents are making an effort to pay for STU. I wasn’t sure I would be able to go back home for Christmas even though I really wanted to,” Chavez said.

“I was hoping to get the Air Canada gift card so I could help my parents pay for the ticket, which is really expensive. That evening, some of my friends left Casino Night but decided to leave their monopoly money with me.”

Across the room, another group of friends were pooling their money together. Jenicca Jean, of Nackawic, NB, hadn’t won a prize all night, so people started giving their leftover winnings to her.

“I was bidding for things, but I kept getting out-bid,” Jean said. “At the end of the night, everyone who had money leftover kept giving it to me for the gift card.”

The two groups went head-to-head for the final auction item, but Jean ended up with the most money and won the gift card. When she walked to the front of the room to accept her prize, she immediately presented it to Chavez.

 “When she gave the gift card to me I just cried out of pure happiness,” Chavez said. “I think in that very moment I felt what STU was like. I felt so loved by people.”

For Jean, giving the card away was a no-brainer.

“Sometimes you see the opportunity to do something kind and you just do it. I can’t imagine not being home for Christmas,” she said.  “It’s amazing we were able to make a difference and that Diana will get to go home and see her family. I may not have come away with any prizes at Casino Night, but I gained so much more.”

A couple of days later, Chavez ran into Jean in the cafeteria to let her know she was making Christmas plans with her family.

“I’m really looking forward to visiting my family and friends,” Chavez said. “When I ran into Jenicca I promised to send her pictures of me and my family while I’m there.”
 

Putting Advocacy Into Practice -- Laura Robinson interns with KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights in Washington, DC

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Laura Robinson, of Quispamsis, NB, spent the summer in Washington, DC, learning to put advocacy into practice.

Robinson, who is honouring in Human Rights and majoring in Political Science and Science and Technology Studies, earned a three-month internship with KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights through St. Thomas’s partnership with the Washington Centre for Internships and Academic Seminars.

“I wanted to do something tangible and to advocate,” Robinson said. “Going into last summer, it felt like the right time to do it, especially with what was happening in the United States and where I was in my studies.”

KARAMAH is a non-profit organization that aims to promote human rights, especially gender equity, religious freedom, and civil rights in the United States. Robinson worked throughout the summer on family law cases, outreach, and the organization’s Law and Leadership summer program.

“The Law and Leadership summer program gathers Muslim women from all over the United States and the world and brings them to Washington to provide training on leadership, Islamic law, and conflict resolution,” Robinson said.

“Most of the misconceptions about Islam are cultural, so we teach them and equip them with the knowledge behind that. We give them the leadership to pass that on to families and communities, and the conflict resolution training helps them ease that knowledge in.”

During the internship Robinson worked from Monday to Thursday and attended classes on Friday. The centre also provided professional track training, which was catered to the focus of the intern’s studies.

“One of the most exciting things we did was act as a focus group for one of the Holocaust museums,” Robinson said. “We went through one of the new exhibits they were going to take to university campuses and we helped them narrow down what pieces they should take and how they would present it.”

Robinson also had the opportunity to go to the Supreme Court while it was in session, visit the Pulitzer Journalism Centre, and visit a number of tourist attractions.

The experience provided a chance for Robinson to connect in-class learning with work on the ground.

“This experience helped me learn in multiple ways—learning through the internship and learning in class, while also gaining life experience,” Robinson said.

“I think you need to be an idealistic person if you want to go into human rights because you want to see the world change, but you also know the puzzle pieces you’re working with and that you can’t just snap your fingers to make it happen. I knew this would be an experience that would teach me more about how to be part of the solution.”

Following the completion of her studies at St. Thomas, Robinson intends to complete a combined masters in law degree.

Enhancing the “Full Student Experience” -- Students in Harrington Hall reflect on the positive impact of the residence renewal

PUBLISHED DATE: Friday, October 6, 2017
Students living in Harrington Hall have a bright, modern, and inclusive residence to call home.

After a year of renovations, Harrington opened its doors for the 2017-2018 school year and the upgrades were extensive.

Rebecca Kingston, a Harrington Hall Residence Advisor, said the renovations have made the building a true “home away from home.”

“The space feels brighter and more welcoming, thanks in part to the modern furniture and the bright colour palette,” she said.

“People who live here are always in the new lounges socializing or hanging out in their rooms with the doors open, while the people who don't live here are always asking to come see it.”

See photo gallery, here: http://smu.gs/2kDTEda

Harrington Hall is the largest capacity residence on campus and as a result was the most in need of upgrades. The general layout of the building is the same, but walls, floors, and heating systems have been updated.

The newly renovated Harrington also includes upgraded residence rooms, a kitchenette, modernized theme lounge and study areas, improved washroom layouts, as well as gender neutral washrooms.

“The designated study lounges make it easy for people to get work done and the kitchen makes it easy if you and your friends want to make dinner or if you need a midnight snack,” Kingston said.

Emily Blue, Harrington Hall’s Residence Coordinator, said the additions will have a positive influence on campus life and the residence experience for students.

“There are social lounges which have a variety of seating options and provide a space for residents to build friendships and to relax in. From all-gender bathrooms to extra-large bathrooms these renovations have taken into account the full student experience.”

Scott Duguay, St. Thomas University Associate Vice-President Enrollment Management, said the advisory committee for the renewal project wanted to ensure what students found most important would be included in the updates.

“The most important things to students were individually controlled bedroom heating, flexible furniture, improved sound proofing, bathrooms that offer more privacy, the addition of a full-feature kitchen, good wireless internet, and better lighting throughout,” he said.

“I’m happy to say all of these things came to life in the renovated Harrington, and we hope students will enjoy them for years to come.”
 

Travel-Study to Italy Allows Julia Pazzano to Learn about Where She Comes From

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Julia Pazzano had never been to the place her family calls home—until now.
 
Pazzano, a second-year student who grew up in Stouffville, Ontario, was part of a group of St. Thomas students who travelled to Italy to participate in a three-week travel-study experience.
 
The multi-city travel experience is part of the Introduction to Italian Literature and Civilization course offered at STU and taught by Dr. Mark Temelini. The study tour of Italy offers a blend of language, culture and countryside, and presents an overview of Italian civilization from its origins to the present day.
 
“We explored the culture and beautiful scenery that Italy has to offer,” Pazzano said. “As a student it was an amazing learning opportunity—what better way to study the history and language than to experience it?”
 
It wasn’t just a yearning for travel that inspired Pazzano to take part in the travel-study course. Her interest in the trip was more personal.
 
“My grandparents on both sides came from Italy, and though we still have family there, my immediate family has never visited the country,” Pazzano said. “I wanted to learn more about where I come from and the culture and history of the country my family calls home.”
 
Travelling across northern and central Italy, Pazzano said she explored the winding canals and narrow streets of Venice, the beautiful artwork and evening scenery of Florence, and visited the islands of Murano and Burano, known for their lace and glasswork.
 
Pompeii was Pazzano’s favourite part of the trip.
 
“We spent an entire day exploring the ruins, seeing the remains of an entire city—houses, sidewalks, and all of the statues and pots that were left behind,” she said.
 
Pazzano said she learned a lot about Italian culture on the trip, and what really made the experience special was that it helped her feel more connected to her family.
 
“I was able to see and experience the culture my grandparents grew up in, and that helped me feel closer to them.”
 
Pazzano, who was apprehensive about travelling so far before this trip, said she’s excited to plan her next trip and hopes to return to Italy again in the near future.
 
Travel-Study Opportunities at STU
 
Travel-Study offers students the opportunity to travel abroad while earning university credit for three to four weeks. Students travel in small groups with a professor to an international destination where they engage in study together using the local setting and culture as materials. Recent Travel Study opportunities were also offered to New York City, Ireland, Spain, and England.

Student and Professor Publish Academic Paper: Kayla Preston and Dr. Gul Çaliskan have their paper on ‘Trumpism’ published by the Postcolonial Studies Journal

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Kayla Preston, a fourth-year student in the honours in Sociology program, can add published researcher to her resumé.

Preston, along with professor Dr. Gul Çaliskan, wrote a paper titled “Tropes of Fear and the Crisis of the West: Trumpism as a Discourse of Post-Territorial Coloniality,” which has been published by the Postcolonial Studies Journal.

“It’s overwhelming to have my work published in an academic journal, especially in a journal that pertains to postcolonial studies—a field of study that really interests me,” Preston said.

“Working as a team with my professor and mentor Dr. Çaliskan was an amazing opportunity for me. I was able to learn the ropes of academic publishing and the process of peer-review, which will be invaluable to me as I progress throughout my studies.”

The inspiration behind the paper came from the Orientalism, Islamophobia and Postcolonial Transgressions seminar taught by Çaliskan. During the course, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and through discussions and papers, Preston and Dr. Çaliskan found the topics covered in the seminar could be used to analyze Trump’s rhetoric.

“Kayla was preparing for her honours thesis proposal on the discourses of fear and hate in the Facebook posts of pro-White nationalist groups in Canadian society.” Çaliskan said. “So writing something on the emerging ‘Trumpism’ was a natural way to bridge her class work with her thesis.”

The paper found the election of Donald Trump to be part of a larger system of crisis in society—one that’s rooted in Western imperial tradition and has sparked a counterforce of ‘decolonality.’

“We found the election of Donald Trump, and the discourse he often uses, is part of a crisis of coloniality, colonial masculinity, nationalism, and rationality. In order to understand Donald Trump as a President and his discourses, we must understand the systems and institutions of the Western world are built on coloniality,” Preston said.

“We also witness that a political and cultural counterforce is being mobilized. We call this counterforce ‘decoloniality,’ which is a response to traditional forms of political, social, and cultural domination,” Çaliskan added.

“The rise of Trumpism shows us the urgency of cultivating new ways of relating, understanding, challenging, and resisting the tropes of fear and hatred that are prevalent in our times.”

Once she completes her Bachelor of Arts, Preston plans to pursue a master’s in Sociology.

Alumnus and Author David Adams Richards Appointed to the Senate of Canada

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Alumnus and award-winning author David Adams Richards has been appointed to the Senate of Canada and will represent New Brunswick in the Red Chamber.

“David’s selection by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is inspiring,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Dawn Russell.  “He will be a fine representative for a province he has written about so movingly for more than four decades.”
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Richards “has done an extraordinary job of telling the stories of the Miramichi River valley of New Brunswick to Canadians and to the world.”
 
“His dedication to the arts and his love of place and of country will be an extraordinary asset to the independent thinkers in the Senate. I am pleased to say that David Adams Richards is going to be a credit not just to New Brunswick but to all of Canada,” he added.
 
Richards is one of Canada’s most respected writers. The New Brunswick native is one of only three people to win the Governor General’s award in the categories of fiction and non-fiction. He is also an award-winning poet, essayist and screenwriter. The author of 16 novels, two books of short stories, and six books of non-fiction, Richards is highly regarded in the eyes of both his readers and reviewers. He has received every major literary award in Canada including the Giller Prize.

An Honorary Degree and Artist in Residence

Richards attended STU in the early 1970s and received an honorary degree in 1990. More recently at STU, he co-chaired the university’s centenary celebrations, was a featured speaker at the National Congress of the Humanities when it was hosted at STU and UNB, was Artist in Residence and the Irving Chair in Journalism. In these roles, he has spoken with thousands of students, and some members of faculty have published scholarly studies of his work.

“His lectures at STU were standing-room only events and he held his audiences spellbound,” Russell added. 
 
“At the same time, I have seen him quietly work with our students, in classrooms and in one-on-one sessions.  Perhaps it is most impressive that he always found the time to listen to and encourage young writers. The generosity that permeates his writing is reflected in his personal graciousness and interest in young students. Indeed, many of these students are amazed that such a humble person is a writer whose novels are read, celebrated and studied world-wide.” 

Through the annual David Adams Richards Prizes for Fiction and Non-Fiction, STU students continue to benefit from his legacy.

Richards holds four honorary degrees, including one from St. Thomas University, and was named to the Order of New Brunswick and Order of Canada.

Statement by Dawn Russell, President and Vice-Chancellor of St. Thomas University on the Announcement of the Appointment of David Adams Richards to the Senate of Canada

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
On behalf of the STU community, I am pleased to offer our congratulations to writer David Adams Richards on his appointment to the Senate of Canada. From his time as a student at STU to more recently, David has been a special contributor to our university.
 
David attended STU in the early 1970s and received an honorary degree in the late 1990s. More recently at STU, he co-chaired our centenary celebrations, was a featured speaker at the National Congress of the Humanities when it was hosted  at STU and UNB, was Artist in Residence and was the Irving Chair. In these roles, he has spoken with thousands of students, and some of our faculty have published scholarly studies of his work.
 
He has an unparalleled body of work and has received every major literary award in Canada. His lectures at STU were standing-room only events and he held his audiences spellbound.  At the same time, I have seen him quietly work with our students, in classrooms and in one-on-one sessions.  Perhaps it is most impressive that he always found the time to listen to and encourage young writers.  The generosity that permeates his writing is reflected in his personal graciousness and interest in young students.  Indeed, many of these students are amazed that such a humble person is a writer whose novels are read, celebrated and studied world-wide. 
 
We are proud of our long association with David. Through the David Adams Richards Prizes for Fiction and Non-Fiction, our students continue to benefit from his legacy.
 
Congratulations to David. His selection by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is inspiring.  He will be a fine representative for a province that he has written about so movingly for more than four decades.

Adding More Value to Your Degree: St. Thomas Announces Certificate in Experiential Learning and Community Engagement

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Students at St. Thomas University will now have the opportunity to connect their in-class learning with practical experience and work in the community through an interdisciplinary Certificate in Experiential Learning and Community Engagement.

The certificate, which students can complete concurrently with their Bachelor of Arts, will provide tangible evidence of the hands-on learning and community service completed during their studies at St. Thomas.

Experience Employers Will Notice

“This will be an opportunity for students to document and be recognized for their community involvement and course-based experiential learning,” said Jessica Hughes, manager of the Office of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement. “With this certificate, students will be better equipped to communicate their achievement to potential employers and in post graduate opportunities.”

Dr. Kim Fenwick, Vice President Academic and Research, said students are looking for more than traditional learning and are seeking opportunities to add more value to their degree. The experiential learning and community engagement focus of this certificate complements a St. Thomas education.

 “We think this is going to be a win for the community and a win for students,” Fenwick said.

“Experiential learning fits well into what we do in liberal arts, because we provide transferable skills that can be used in almost any area of life or employment. Part of a liberal education is being able to affect the world in a positive way, so we want students to see how what they’re leaning can help others, professionally and through volunteerism.”

“The highlight of my grad year”

Rebecca Boone, a recent graduate who majored in History, took advantage of the experiential learning opportunity offered to her as a researcher at the Centennial Building. Through her work, she came to a better understanding of the role of the Centennial Building in Fredericton and the country, while also analyzing its significance to Canadian society and its evolution over the past 50 years.

“Material history is a field that can be very relatable to the public, as objects can be more relatable than concepts or people, because we interact with objects—like the Centennial Building—every day,” she said. 

“This experiential learning opportunity was the highlight of my grad year, and let me feel as though I was making a real contribution to the field of history.”

In the fall, Boone will begin her Bachelor of Education degree at St. Thomas.

Certificate Requirements

Students wishing to earn the Certificate in Experiential Learning and Community Engagement must complete nine credit hours from the list of academic courses to be provided by the Registrar’s Office, as well as 30 hours of non-paid community service paired with critical thinking and reflective exercises.

A list of approved community service opportunities will soon be available from the Office of Student Services and Residence Life.

For more information, see here