Surrey, Vancouver campuses join in Robbie Burns festivities
Last week’s celebration of Robbie Burns Day at the Surrey campus provided a great opportunity to share some Scottish tradition with the campus and wider community. It also afforded a chance to engage with our sister Vancouver campus, as executive director Laurie Anderson made the trek by Skytrain to serve as toastmaster for the occasion. Led by Kevin McLean of the world-class SFU Pipe Band, the two of us, kilt-clad, carried trays of haggis—the steaming, Scottish fare that is traditionally shared on this special day—on a procession around campus, joined by many and attracting others who were drawn by the skirl of pipes.
Laurie and I deeply value the relationship between Surrey and Vancouver and celebrating Robbie Burns Day together is a wonderful way to bridge our two campuses. Though we may be separated by a train ride, we are united by our commitment to support our campus communities.
Before leaving for Surrey, Laurie gave his own campus a brief recital of the poetry of Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet, whose short life (he died at 37) has been celebrated on his birth date for more than 250 years. Following the procession here at the Surrey campus, he delivered Burns’ famous Address to a Haggis with panache and convincing drawl. The two of us then served up the haggis to a curious crowd.
We were also graced by having Surrey’s Poet Laureate Renee Saklikar provide her own rendition of Burns’ poetry and lead an informal ‘competition’, drawing those from the crowd to try their hand at reciting Burns. And several came forward (yours truly even gave it a stab). We were impressed by the response, and also by the great turn-out of community friends who joined us; councilor Vera LeFranc, neighbors from Fraser Health and numerous others.
And from a personal perspective, on the occasion of Preet's (my partner) 50th birthday, I had the opportunity to recite Burns' A Red Red Rose for her. The poem speaks to being a great distance away from the person you love. Preet could not make it to our Burns Day festivities, she was far away ... all the way over at Surrey City Hall.
SFU has always been proud of its links to Scottish heritage and this special day gives us a chance to celebrate that culture. I greatly appreciated that Laurie was able to join in this celebration. He has a true flair for the romance of Burns poetry and if you missed it, keep next year in mind; we hope this can become an annual tradition for our two campuses. Och Aye!