I just finished my first year at UBC. A transfer student from Douglas, working on her ten-year undergrad. I spent the majority of my time in the little geography building, one of UBC’s oldest structures. Single pane windows, creaky floors and views of the Mathematics annex shaped the physicality my new world.
Feeling like I’m doing this for the second time around, I find myself taking in more of the experience. This includes watching my classmates: the future work/social force. Within the human geography department there is a serious girl gang going on. Mid-twenties, no makeup, logo-free clothing, tangled hair, politically-versed. The force of their ambition can be felt radiating outwards. I needed this girl gang to remind me of what’s possible. Without them the future is bleak. As all around me, classmates are consumed with scrolling the virtual world, tuning out lectures that are filled with ways to be a better person. One girl in my Latin America class shopped on various fast fashion websites the entire semester. The irony being both ridiculous and tragic. In this space, we see images and text of all the labour exploited for our consumption. Children working 12 hours in cotton fields, hand pollinating hybrid seeds for .05 Rps a flower. During the last class she looked up momentarily and spoke for the first time. She wanted to tell us that the new reconciliation pole was “like really beautiful.” Did she miss the many points during the semester where reconciliation ceremonies are simply not enough? That Canadian companies continue to wipe blood off their hands, but now, in new locations like Guatemala and Ecuador. (more details here)
Frustrating as this may be, I am lucky enough to be part of a smaller girl gang. Coming from schools hundreds of years older than the creation of Canada, my friends are all transfer students from the UK. Sadly, this means next year I’ll have to find a new girl gang.
In the whole year I befriended just one male. The others I encountered zoned out with any mention related to the feminist cause. One admitted to taking the social justice class because he heard it was an easy A. He came to maybe ten classes the entire semester and didn’t take notes on a single issue. Issues like: interlocking forms of oppression, decolonization, racial formation, and patriarchy. I couldn’t help but to take it personally. Here this man child has every tool in front of him to become a better person.
In Latin America there is a saying: por un mundo donde quepan muchos mundo – For a world in which many worlds exist. This way of life asks that one look outside themselves and the institutions that shape their knowledge. To ask oneself, what brings my world into being? The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the media we watch. They are always entangled in political processes which empower some and discard many.
One day I’ll ask one of these boys if they would like to go swimming in the pools of tears welling up inside me. The mess of inequality and injustice, how has it has gotten this far? Yet in the midst of all this uncertainty a wise man came into my life. He inadvertently tended to the fallen stalks of my optimism; allowing it to reroot and grab hold of this precarious landscape. Once again my world reshaped. To use his words about the making of his world: “Entrepreneurs and refugees put it all on the line when the probability of success is clearly stacked against them. They uproot their current way of life and follow a new path with the only certainty being uncertainty.” – Yashar Nejati
In the making and remaking of our worlds, there is hope that many worlds will exist and be validated. That other forms of knowledge will be accepted and not vilified. Most importantly, creating space for these new worlds means paying attention and bringing in new people. Sometimes you’ll want to kick someone out of your world, like this one guy, who attempted to invalidate my A+ term paper by crediting the TA instead of me. By the way, he got a B.
Yashar’s article: “How being a refugee prepared me for life as an entrepreneur”
Feature artist: Camilo Huinca
“Me interesa la comunicación, el diseño principalmente es comunicación, el arte es comunicación.” I am interested in communication. Design is mainly communication. Art is communication.