New Renison course explores the experiences of immigrants in Canada

By Riamarie Panachikal

With up to 1150 refugees expected to settle in the Waterloo region in the next two months, understanding the experiences of immigrants in Canada has become an important area of focus. In winter 2016, Renison University College will offer a new course that discusses narratives around immigration and refugee resettlement in Canada. ENGL 280, Literatures of Migration, will explore the diasporic experiences of various global communities as they navigate North America.

Blending together an analysis of literary and cultural study, Professor Vinh Nguyen has designed this course to critically examine the various social factors that shape the experiences of immigrants, refugees, and undocumented workers.

vin nguyen“I feel like one of the most important things in the classroom is for the instructor to show a sort of passion for the material. That in itself can be very contagious. If you show how you’re invested in the work, in the material, then students can pick up on that. They see it as a possibility for them to be invested as well,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen’s passion runs more deeply and personally than most. At the age of six, Nguyen, his three siblings, and his mother chose to flee Vietnam and seek safety in Thailand.

“We were boat people,” said Nguyen reflecting upon his passage into Thailand. “A lot of these stories of these boats is that they are crammed with hundreds and hundreds of people. So maybe a boat meant to carry maybe 100 people will carry 150 or 200 people, or whatever amount it was. We were on one of those.” (Read the full story)

Hear Professor Llewellyn speak at BBC reconciliation forum

In October, SDS Professor Kristina Llewellyn was invited to speak in a panel discussion recorded for BBC World Service’s "The Forum." Moderated by BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall, this panel featured prominent international thinkers as they discussed and debated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report that concluded that residential schooling was "cultural genocide." You can listen to the full discussion on the BBC website or download a copy of the broadcast. 

Professor Parker publishes book multicultural education

Social Development Studies Professor Christina Parker has published her first book, Peacebuilding, Citizenship, and Identity: Empowering Conflict and Dialogue in Multicultural Classrooms. It is the second book in a series by SensePublishers called "Transnational Migration and Education." From the abstract: 

As communities around the world continue to attract international immigrants, schools have become centers for learning how to engage with people’s multiple ethnic and cultural origins. Ethnocultural minority immigrant students carry diverse histories and perspectives—which can serve as resources for critical reflection about social conflicts. These students’ identities need to be included in the curriculum so that diversity and conflictual issues can be openly discussed.

Immigrant children embody the many issues confronting today’s youth in a global, transnational, and interconnected world. Drawing on in-depth empirical case studies, this book explores the classroom experiences of these children. Varying in social and cultural capital, they contend with social and cultural conflict influenced not only by global politics and familial prejudices, but also by structural exclusion in Western curricula. (Read the full story)

Renison supports fundraising efforts for local hospital

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Toronto (TECO) in partnership with the KW Taiwanese Community Association and Renison University College will present a cheque for $4665 to the Cambridge Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, December 1 at 2:30 pm.

Through the generosity of these supporters, an opera called “Hero Beauty” was held at Cambridge’s Dunfield Theatre in October. The opera, performed by the renowned Taiwanese opera group Ming Hwa Yuan, combined music, theatre, martial arts, dancing and traditional art form showcasing the unique postures and operatic singing of Ge Zai Xi (Taiwanese Opera) performers. The event was organized and supported in part by Renison, which is the home of the East Asian Studies program at the University of Waterloo. (Read the full story)

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