GeoGala 2015

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This year’s GeoGala was held on April 2nd at Sage Bistro. Over 100 students, faculty, and staff were in attendance. The evening was hosted by GSA President Josh Cutler and VP Social Elizabeth Good. Professor Marwan Hassan, Head of the Geography Department, made a moving speech weaving in river allegories with one’s journey through life [see below]. VP Academic and Co-Editor-in-Chief Jialin Yang and Co-Editor-in-Chief Kelly Cubbon thanked everyone who helped with this year’s Trail Six and their nearly accomplished goal of having a sustainably printed journal.

Next year’s GSA team was also announced:
President: Evelyn W. Chan
VP-Academic: Matthew Chung
VP-Administration: Stella Zhou
VP-Communications: Amy Luo
VP-External: Emily Huang
VP-Finance: Andrew Wheaton
VP-Graduation: Angela Ho
VP-Social: Caitlin Chan & Damini Jain
VP-Sustainability: Jessica Broomfield

And of course, this year’s student-voted award winners are:
Most Valued Member of Staff: Jose Aparicio
Most Feared Professor: Derek Gregory
Best Radio Voice: David Ley
Best Teaching Assistant: Joe Munsterman (Geography 374)
Best Geography Course: Geography 410 (Denver Nixon)
Best Lecturer: Elizabeth Lee

Trivia was based on geography and pop culture and played enthusiastically by every table/team. The night ended on the dance floor. Photos of the evening can by viewed here.

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Marwan’s speech is reprinted here for everyone to enjoy:

Welcome everyone. You have spent the past four years in a large sheltered pool called university. You are about to be ejected (or entrained like river sediment) into the coherent (or incoherent) turbulent flow, chaotic rapids and lazy meanders. Allow me to give you some advice from somebody who has navigated these waters before you:

Rivers flow in one direction, much like time. You get to pass through each station in your life once – make sure you savor each part, because you won’t get to go back. While all of us are moving from our source (birth) to our destination (death) the landscape is always new. Face these novelties with joy.

Hiding behind someone else will only help them get ahead, and you might find yourself left behind. So make sure you are as immersed in the flow as much as possible. There are no alternatives to rolling up your sleeve and taking a risk. It is perfectly good to be inspired by the work of others, but make sure you are making your own mark. Excessive admiration to others robs you of your energy and robs them of their humanity.

The path that will most shape your life will not be the one you expect – like sediment in streams – stochastic process. Floods, waterfalls and raging rapids always come by surprise and rework all the progress you have made – so don’t waste too much time on planning, and be flexible when those unexpected life events happen. Just to give you example, it never occurred to me when I was your age that I would end up living in Canada. Later, I planned to come to Vancouver for one year only. 20 years later …. Here I am.

Don’t get stuck or trapped on floodplains or bars watching the river pass you by. Water that stops moving stagnates. Once you are mobile, keep moving. Float, roll, rumble or drag – do whatever it takes to get you through.

Moving downstream and forwards will lead you through some dangerous waters. It will take you out of a comfortable pace, and into a challenging flow. But you will find that your knowledge and experience when merged with the knowledge of new and interesting people creates a force to be reckoned with. To shape your path in society make sure you are a healthy tributary, play well with others. Your contribution when combined with that of others can form a powerful river that will move mountains.

It is of infinite importance that by the end of your journey your potential (energy) was spent doing work you love. Live every day to full capacity. Don’t allow yourself to be diverted for someone else’s power schemes. Passion turns hard work into a pleasure ride.

I look across this room, at all your fresh faces full of potential. I feel inspired. I feel optimistic about the future of our field. Most of all, I feel very very proud of each and every one of you.”

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Recap by Mimi Yu
Photography by Gurbir Grewal