Friday, December 4, 2009

Event Roundup: Camps and Operas

Current Mood: Fairly awake despite having quite the late night.

Current Song: Ave Maria (I was singing a bad rendition in my dream, and it's carried over to waking life).

This week has been most eventful in a long while. It's not often I'm out and about at more than one event. Being an introvert, I need plenty of time to recover. This week however, I attending two events that I thought to share with you.

On Monday, I went to something called Foreign Policy Camp. See this post if you want to read what it was. It's always a little bit intimidating to hit up an event without a wing person, but I seem to be getting more and more used to that. It's also very intimidating when there are many people in some very expensive looking suits attending. I'm always afraid of saying something stupid.

I attended two sessions - one in the morning, and another after lunch - during the day. The first one was about the Global Supply Chain and ethical and sustainability practices in the private sector. For those of you who know, I covered some of this in my thesis. We had wonderful facilitators in Steve Williams from SAP and Esther Speck from MEC. I learned about how sustainability practices are part of their business cases, and that is the way in which they ensure that it isn't just a side project. During the recession, they've been able to maintain many of these practices without letting them fall away. Regulation of these practices seem to be both internally driven as well as by consumers. Both speakers made a great case for sustainability having other benefits such as retention, morale and productivity. I learned a ton from people who actually employ these practices, and it was great to see a real business case rather than a hypothetical one to put things in perspective. I think we're on our way here, people!

My afternoon session was completely different. What a change! John Monahan, a wonderful facilitator from the Mosaic Institute led a session on the role of diasporas in creating Foreign Policy in Canada. Basically it was in the form of a breakout session where we answered fundamental questions. I guess the general mindframe of the group seemed to be that diasporas are first and foremost canadians, meeting Canadian values. As such, they shouldn't be cherry-picked as experts on the country of origin. It's isolating, probably some form of tokenism, and highlighting a difference that may not necessarily be present. For instance, if someone told me that I'm the expert on East Africa and what do I think of Canada's engagement, I wouldn't know what to say. I've been in this country long enough to have become Canadian. My ideas on how that engagement might occur may offer some new insights, but I wouldn't by any stretch of the imagination by the resident expert on the topic. It was an important thing to realize, especially in the wake of some of Canada's recent interactions with Asia-Pacific and Central Asia. Again, lots to think about, as Canadian Foreign Policy moves to evolve in the next decades. All in all, a wonderful day of meeting new folks and engaging my brain in some much needed intellectual calisthenics!
You can read this article written in The Mark on Global Citizens by John, for further reading.

And now for something Completely Different!

Last night, I attended Vancouver Opera's show for Norma with one of my dearest friends, Michael, as my date for the evening. The show was spectacular. For those of you who may have been perusing the papers as of late, you'll notice articles about Norma popping up everywhere. One of Vincenzo Bellini's famous Bel Cantos this two-act opera concentrates on the central character Norma, a druid priestess, who has a husband Pollione. Pollione falls in love with a virgin of the temple, Adalgisa, and chooses to leave Norma. This doesn't go over so well. And in short, the gates of hell open up.

This would probably be one of my favourites now, along with Aida from many years ago. The depth of character and richness of sound portrayed by Hasmik Papian, who plays Norma was unsurpassed. Richard Margison, who plays Pollione has a beautiful tenor voice. My favourite parts of course were the stunning duets performed by Norma and Adalgisa. And the big bang choral number was a wonderful ending to the night. I've been the opera before, a handful to times, and this is by far one of the most captivating ones I've seen in a long while.

Thanks to Vancouver Opera's Opera Under Thirty Program, we got fabulous seats. I'm always a little disappointed when I don't see young folks at the opera. There are great programs such as this one out there to encourage young people to go and see the arts, and I really encourage you to take advantage of them (before you hit your 30's and have to pay full price! Gasp!)

All in all, a wonderful week, with wonderful new learnings. Sorry for the rambling. I hope I've satisfied my fellow policy nerds as well as my fellow art lovers. I shall write again next week. Until then, stay well :)


VOMDAssist said...

I'm thu-rilled that you had a wonderful time at Norma! We're getting loads of positive feedback on our season's opener.

Hopefully, we'll see you at Nixon in China!

All the best,

Ling Chan
Assistant to Managing Director

Mehnaz said...

Thanks Ling!
it was fantastic :)
Hope to be there for others!

Beth Oppenheim said...

Wow, Policy Camp sounded awesome. Would be interesting to know how Canadians handle things vs. Americans in terms of discussing sustainability. Where are you from? I may have missed that detail in our tweeting/Brazening activity.

Glad you had such a fun week!

Mehnaz said...

thanks again for commenting. From Vancouver (on the West Coast).

I'd love to chat sustainability one of these days. I know it's become much more part of our business approach here because of the richness of natural resources.
Mind, on a country level, our climate change directives are appalling; something that bothers many Canadians given our status on the world stage.

Anonymous said...

Gather roses while you may........................................