Fall 2011 Student Bios
Nicole Armos is a girl of culture, tradition and novelty.
Even though she has spent most of her life in Canada, she still does not forget her Mexican-Hungarian roots. When she was small her parents gave her the opportunity to explore different religious practices and to find the one that had a personal meaning to her. She never chose only one religion. Rather, she kept herself open to what different spiritual views have to offer her. Today Nicole incorporates spirituality in many aspects of her personal life.
Nicole is ambitious and works hard to achieve all the goals she has set for herself. She is continuously trying out new experiences that she considers challenging, because she believes that going out of her comfort zone will allow her to reach maximum personal growth and development.
Nicole is a World Literature student. She is passionate about learning about different cultures, traditions and is dreaming of being able to travel and explore everything the world has to offer her.
Her career goal is to become a counsellor. She also hopes to link expressive arts with therapy.
In her spare time she likes biking, dancing, swimming, sewing, and loves being outdoors.
Born and raised in Bulgaria, third year Psychology major Yveta Avramova moved to Canada when she was 15 years old. Here she became not only more familiar with the Christian Orthodox tradition of her home country, but also expanded her knowledge about many other religious views that have fascinated her.
Yveta approaches other cultures - and life itself - with an open mind and heart, eager to learn about others and incorporate new practices into her life. She practices yoga, meditation, attends Russian church on holidays, and hopes this list continues to expand throughout her life.
Yveta enjoys spending time with family and friends, travelling, learning languages and learning about food and nutrition. In the future, Yveta would like to be a lawyer with a big family. She hopes the Semester in Dialogue will help her break out of her comfort zone and develop a strong voice so that she may make an impact on the world.
Elyse Brazel is awesome. She was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta. Being half Ukrainian, Elyse loves perogies and plans on hosting a perogie party while in Vancouver. Though she is an exceptionally kind person, Elyse hates birds. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Art and Design from the University of Alberta and is now working towards a Masters of Arts at the Vancouver School of Theology in Indigenous and Inter-religious Studies. After her first degree, Elyse took a year long internship at Romero House, a community in Toronto where she worked and lived with refugee claimants. It was a transformative experience that shifted her focus to social justice. Elyse has been a camp counsellor and girl guide leader, a professional facepainter and she has worked with people living with HIV/AIDS in group home that provided residential palliative care as well as immigrant and refugee youth in an afterschool mentorship and tutoring program. Elyse also had the opportunity to go to London, Tanzania, Chicago, Ottawa and the World Religious Leaders Summit in Winnipeg as a Faiths Act Fellow. She was one of 30 young leaders of faith chosen to take part in an international, interfaith fellowship focused on building bridges of understanding between people of different faiths and empowering them to work together to be agents of social change. From these experiences, Elyse has become very passionate about building a stronger community through interfaith cooperation.
Together with her darling husband Emma Darling has traveled the globe. The adventures that she has been on have built in her a fierce sense of justice. When asked about her favourite place to visit she boldly answered with Syria. The revolution, she said, couldn't have happened to more warm and inviting people.
Emma is currently settled in the West End of Vancouver and hopes to use her studies at Simon Fraser towards a career in Human Rights work. Watch out, this girl is going to change the world!
Geordan Hankinson is a native Vancouverite studying Sociology at SFU. He is participating in the Semester in Dialogue with the hope of deepening the connections between his faith and his social engagement. He is currently employed by a non-profit faith based organization, coordinating a community food program. Geordan believes strongly that traditionally modeled charities often serve to cultivate a culture of dependence and to solidify power differentials within society. His work is thus dedicated to facilitating participatory and capacity building food oriented initiatives with marginalized individuals in our city. He is interested in the role of dialogue in flattening hierarchy within social service, and is hopeful that an education structured around dialogue will equip him with new tools for effective facilitation.
Peggy Lam is an energetic and civically engaged third-year Geography Major. Peggy's interest in Geography academically stems from her passion about environmental change. As well as being engaged in environmental issues, Peggy is having a positive impact on social injustice as well. Recently, she travelled across Canada with a group called "the Under-19's" filming and interviewing people from all across the nation. Right now, she is working on compiling that video footage into a documentary to educate Canadians on the conditions of our nation. The experiences she had on this cross Canada expedition have had a significant impact on her life, exposing her to the exploitation and inequality that marginalized communities face. As well, Peggy is involved with a girl's empowerment program, working on publishing a magazine. As a descendant of Vietnamese boat people, Peggy has also been teaching Vietnamese to children at the Vietnamese Language Institute. The Semester in Dialogue drew her attention because of its unique learning style in comparison to traditional lectures. It is easy to see that Peggy's passion for justice, both social and environmental, is going to be a huge contribution to the Dialogue team.
Wade Lifton hails from British Columbia's Okanagan Valley and has called Metro Vancouver home for the past seven years. His credentials include a certificate in performing arts, ten years of working with children and youth, co-founding a rainwater harvesting project in Ghana and the possession of such advanced foresight as to prepare enough lunch for an entire week during the preceding weekend. Passion for social change serves as the underlying current to Wade's actions, which he seeks to realize by having "a foot in the church and a foot in the world." To this end he aims to become an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada and to continue his socially proactive endeavours. Presently Wade is completing a Master's of Divinity while supporting himself through his prestigious appointment as a dishwasher at Rhizome Café.
Hailing from High River, Alberta, Chelsea Masterman is in the midst of turning her passion for faith and social justice into a full time career. As a Master of Divinity student at Vancouver School of Theology (VST), Chelsea intends to become a minister in the United Church of Canada. Her passions don't stop at her faith or the betterment of the community. She loves music and she smiles as she tells me that she lives with Molson the gecko and spends time with her horse (Lady) and cat (Shadow) when visiting home.
After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge, Chelsea began volunteering with the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission. She then spent a few years working, including two years selling advertising for a Christian radio station before starting at VST in 2009. She recently completed a year at Pacific School of Religion in California, returning to VST to participate in the Semester in Dialogue. Here, Chelsea hopes to continue channeling her energy and passion in a movement towards translating spirituality and faith into various social justice movements in the community. Her openness to dialogue and her warm, approachable spirit are sure to make an indelible mark on all those who are lucky enough to interact with her!
Claudia Nobauer is a dancer, yoga teacher, and humanities student from Coquitlam who has a deep appreciation for beauty, art and culture. This is reflected in her favourite city to visit, which is New Orleans. She dances Lindy Hop, a type of swing dancing, and loves all music that has soul. Claudia hopes to use this passion for art to make the world a better place. After university she plans to become an expressive art therapist, a profession which helps people to heal through expressing themselves artistically.
From body, to mind, to soul, Sabine Obeid has the interest and drive to explore wholeness and health in all its aspects. When she talks about the personal research she does into nutrition and fitness, her face lights up. Friendly and approachable, she is happy to share her passion with friends and family, but careful not to impose it upon them.
A Psychology major, Sabine's personal and academic interests have led her to delve into the effect of faith on health. In studying seniors who practice faith traditions, she found they experience lower rates of depression and live longer, happier lives. This intrigued her, increasing her desire to learn more about the effect of spirituality on a person's life.
Growing up in the Vancouver area as one of only two Western siblings in her entire extended family, Sabine is comfortable navigating Lebanese, Kuwaiti, Canadian, Muslim and secular cultures. Speaking fluent English and Arabic, she has a love for empathetic relationship building with those she lives and works with. Sabine's intentionality in communication, combined with her experience and interests, make her a great asset to Dialogue. She is looking forward immensely to continuing her personal and academic explorations of spirituality and social action this semester – as we are looking forward to learning with her!
Andrew Paterson is a Vancouver native studying Philosophy at SFU. Andrew has a keen interest in discussion and debate, and is participating in the Semester in Dialogue with the goal of expanding his capacity for inter-disciplinary discourse. Though a non-subscriber to any particular religious tradition, he is compelled by the common themes that underlie religious narratives and their potential for revealing essential human and/or metaphysical truths. Andrew is optimistic that in the world of social media and online connection, these common human stories will be the adhesive that unites us. It will be difficult to convince people to be complacent in the exploitation of their facebook friends. Andrew believes that true influence will lie and does lie with those versed in dialogue and is extremely excited about the potential of this program to help him develop these skills.
Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Max Serpa is currently attending Simon Fraser University and studies Sociology along with other socially-geared academics. Max bashfully describes himself as a rebel with a cause. Reflecting on his experiences, he has come to understand many social patterns which contribute to earthly suffering, and makes it his priority to find resolutions to these patterns. To accomplish this, Max has concluded it is better to focus on the process rather than the goal. Along these lines, he aims to bring diplomacy and respect of differences to interactions within and between groups he works with. When he isn't attending school or meditating on various social problems, Max can be found doing odd jobs like baking, delivering flyers or helping old ladies across the street- because yes, he's that kind of guy.
Lea Silver is a third year communications student with a deep passion for international development. Growing up, while others were stuck in classrooms, Lea travelled the world with her family, exploring different parts of North America and far away places such as the Cook Islands in New Zealand. At age 15, Lea volunteered with program Hero Holiday through the Absolute Leadership Development organization, which provides opportunities for students to learn about poverty and volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Through being a junior leader, her experiences in the country set her life course as it inspired her to take action and be civically engaged in her community. Recently, Lea took up a co-op position with the Progressive Housing Society in Burnaby B.C. As a volunteer coordinator for the Homeless Outreach Initiative, Lea dived into the professional world while discovering meaning in her work by engaging with clients from all different walks of life. In her spare time, Lea snowboards avidly and is also interested in skim boarding and long boarding! Charming, funny, and talented, Lea has a charismatic personality that brings refreshing energy and insight to her presence, making her a delight to learn from and a force to be reckon with.
Esther Tauby wears many hats. She has been an elementary school teacher for nearly thirty years. She is now working towards a Masters degree in Education. She has completed minors in learning disabilities and in counseling psychology at SFU. Born and raised in Toronto she met and married her husband, an Orthodox Rabbi, in New York. The two moved to Vancouver almost 30 years ago and are blessed with many children and grandchildren. Anyone who meets her can see that her passions are deeply connected to children and education. Esther is interested in meeting and working with people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds toward common purpose in social action and community service in the fall Semester in Dialogue.
Megan Te Boekhorst is from smalltown Chilliwack, a great place for curling! She come's from a very loving and supportive family. Originally she wanted to be a teacher, but after spending a year at a university in Kamloops and a move to SFU, she has found a real love of communications. She is now in her 3rd-ish year at SFU double majoring in Communications and Interactive Art and Technology. If you can't tell immediately by the last name, Megan is Dutch. Megan is also a picky eater, she dislikes escalators and has a phobia of loose hair. She loves photography and chocolate. In high school, Megan led the way in organizing several successful 30 hour famines to raise awareness and funds for fighting hunger, she has volunteered with World Vision and hopes to someday spend time in Africa.
Ariel Young is a native Vancouverite who lives on the North Shore. She is a history major interested in religious studies and is taking this Semester in Dialogue to learn about the history of different religions. She is also eager to have a class with listening and talking instead of being talked at. Ariel's passion is music, she is a talented musician who plays three instruments-the flute, guitar and trombone.