30 December, 2009

NCV Christmas Aussie BBQ

Because the NCV is mainly for postgraduate students the building is never without residents or staff. In this our first year, over 60 residents were still in the building over Christmas. As a result Carmen and I hosted a Christmas BBQ in the main Common Room for those who were still here and weren't sharing the day with relatives or friends in Australia.

We had a fairly typical Aussie lunch:
  • Halal steak (this isn't typically Australian, but NCV has some Muslim residents so we always cater with Halal meat), lamb, chicken, and beef sausages
  • Great salads (some Cairney specials - thanks Carmen!)
  • Aussie Pavlova (made by Carmen) and traditional Christmas pudding cooked by Trevor and his daughter Louise (a family tradition)

We had about 25 who turned up for lunch and it was a very special time together.

Above: Carmen's Aussie Pavlova and traditional English Pudding (on the side)

We hope that every friend of New College as well as alumni and current residents have a lovely Christmas and New Year.


02 December, 2009

Christmas Carols at NCV

Above: Mark & Patrick enjoying the carols

On Monday night residents of NCV shared in a traditional Christmas Carols service in the Main Common Room. Residents gathered to sing traditional songs, hear Bible passages read that tell the Christmas story, hear a brief message from the Master, decorate the NCV Christmas tree then share hot pancakes and maple syrup cooked on the BBQ.

This was a wonderful night enjoyed by people of all the many faiths represented in the building as well as some who hold to no faith position. Just another example of what a wonderful community life we have at the NCV.

Above: The music team leading us in carol singing

Above: Sue and Lauren decorating the tree

Above: Some of the guys decorating the tree and sharing a pancake (cooked by the Master)

Above: One resident's decoration (Christmas always points to Easter)


19 November, 2009

End of Year Drinks and Canapes

It's hard to know when the year ends at the NCV. Some residents don't leave at this time but simply keep working on their research. However, many of the coursework masters students and medicine students end earlier. To mark the fact that some were leaving in November we held a drinks and canapes night for all residents (free of course!). The night included fine finger food served by the New College caterers, great conversation and a brief word from the Master to farewell some people and thank everyone for the wonderful first year that we have had at the NCV. This type of event will be run regularly next year to complement our regular free BBQs on a Friday evening.

Above: Some of our residents and staff enjoying the night

Above: Our Chef Manager (Daniel) on the left serving residents some of the food he had prepared

Above: Residents enjoying the evening


08 October, 2009

NCV October Formal Dinner

We had another wonderful formal dinner in October for over 100 residents of the NCV. These dinners occur approximately four times per year and are open (free of charge) to all residents. We had a wonderful three course meal, entertainment was provided by one of our residents (Arun Jothidas) and we have a distinguished guest speaker. Our guest at the October dinner was Mary Jo Capps the CEO of Musica Viva, which is Australia's largest supporter and promoter of intimate concert experiences, presenting approximately 2,500 concerts each year in Australia and around the world. Mary Jo gave us a wonderful overview of the history of Musica Viva as well as telling us about her own career development.

Above: Some of our residents enjoying dinner together

Above: Residents chatting after the dinner was over

Above: Anusha, Rosita, Hafiz, Faris, Trevor (Master of NCV), Karen, Niloufer and Dana


22 September, 2009

The Importance of Community: Why the NCV is special

New College Village is more than just a place to live; it is a place where people make friends for life, where you will find academic support, and where the Senior Resident team led by Carmen and me will support you when struggling in any way. There are a number of ways that this type of community is shaped:

1. We have an excellent team of Senior Residents (see my previous post here) who do after hours duty, get to know everyone on their floors, plan social activities, and look out for everyone.

2. We have an excellent team of 6 Academic Tutors who offer advice and support in relation to life on campus, how to negotiate and understand the various academic programs and courses at UNSW, where to go for academic help, rules and regulations about study at UNSW, and general advice about writing, research and meeting University assessment requirements.

3. The ethos of NCV is reflective of the history of care and concern for residents modelled at New College over 40 years. This is led by the Master and the Dean.

4. We have an air conditioned building designed to support community with many common areas, courtyards, a games room, a business centre, reading room, main common room with piano for the musical and so on.

5. We have a rich social program including many planned activities like BBQs for the whole community (here), academic seminars with outstanding scholars and professional leaders (here), supper every Monday night from 9.00 till 11.00pm hosted by the Senior Residents on each floor (here), formal dinners where we dress up, share good food and hear from an outstanding speaker whose life is inspiring (here). As well, residents organise themselves numerous activities such as the NCV Choir, the Gold Week Concert (here), movie nights, video gaming in the common room, sports activities, trips away, potluck dinners, outings to the city of beach and so on.

Our aim in building the New College Village has been to create a unique community for postgraduate students enrolled at UNSW. Many universities around the world attempt to provide designated postgraduate accommodation (although very few in Australia). However, not many universities have seriously given priority to support and community building. Drawing on experience living in graduate housing in the USA and my knowledge of the best of the postgraduate colleges in the United Kingdom, I developed a design brief that sought to:
  • create spaces for residents to meet with each other in varied contexts - 2 common rooms on each floor with lounges, coffee making facilities and in 7 of these cable television; a large games room; two outdoor courtyards; a rooftop terrace; a reading room; a business centre; a main common room; a convenience store and barbecue facilities outdoors.
  • ensure that as residents move through the building there are frequent mingling spaces;
  • our wonderful location close to key campus-based cafes, restaurants and the graduate lounge (just 100 metres away);
  • offer residents the privacy of their own rooms and ensuites, but at the same time provide common space for mingling. All apartments and clusters of studio apartments have generous shared space for sharing meals or just spending time with other residents;
  • provide well a equipped business centre that is for the use of all residents to support you in your studies;
  • offer internet services that you'd expect in a modern building with data access to all rooms;
  • incorporate state-of-the-art external design features that ensure that this building has outstanding acoustic features, leading to quiet rooms.
The NCV also has many other things going for it that will make life comfortable and interesting, including air-conditioned ensuite rooms; a special membership option for the outstanding University gymnasium and indoor pool (just 200 metres from the front door); a bus stop at the front door that provides access to all the sights of Sydney; some of the world's finest beaches a 20 minute walk away or a short 5 minute direct bus ride.

Added to the obvious strengths of the building, and the many programs that support community life, are the 319 different people who live in the NCV and are all at UNSW to learn from each other. The NCV gives you an opportunity to live among postgraduate students from every Australian state and territory and ever continent of the world. We have residents from 55 nations who bring rich cultural diversity that makes the community and exciting place.

If you'd like more information the NCV website will give you extra information and will allow you to make an online application.


17 August, 2009

Monday Night Suppers

I have just returned from Monday night supper. At NCV we have a regular supper every Monday evening starting at 9.00pm. They are hosted by the Senior Residents on each floor. The NCV provides the food (cake, donuts, fruit etc) and the residents make tea or coffee or bring their own drink. Carmen and I usually work our way down from the 7th floor calling in on each group. Tonight was a great chance to meet some of our 40 new residents who have joined us from Thailand, USA, China, Indonesia, Australia, Iceland etc. A female engineering student from Iceland, now that's diversity! All of the 40 new residents who joined others mid-year are postgrads studying an incredible array of subjects - planning, biology, international relations, finance, arts management, environmental engineering, medicine, economics (to name a few).

Above: Level 6 residents enjoying supper

Above (& Top): Some of the residents of Level 3 enjoying supper together


08 August, 2009

NCV August Formal Dinner

On Thursday 6th August we held our second NCV Formal Dinner for the year. It was a wonderful night. 120 residents, staff and board members gathered for a beautiful three course dinner, an inspiring talk from our guest speaker, a brilliant piano performance by one of our residents and an opportunity for great conversation. Hae-Na Lee inspired everyone with a performance of the Beethoven - Piano Sonata No.17 (Tempest - 3rd movement). Formal dinners have long been an important part of collegiate life and New College has a rich tradition of such events. The decision to have these dinners in a postgraduate self-catered community, was the result of requests from residents to enjoy dinners similar to those run at New College. The dining room at New College (across the road from NCV) provides the perfect venue for such events.

Our guest speaker was Professor Veena Sahajwalla who leads research on Sustainable Materials Processing at University of New South Wales (UNSW). She is one of the University’s distinguished Scientia professors. Before moving to UNSW she was a research scientist at the CSIRO. Along with her research team at UNSW, she works with many companies across the globe that support her research. She was appointed as Director, Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology in 2008. She is also Associate Dean Strategic Industry Relations, Faculty of Science. Her research is focussed on sustainability of materials processing, including recycling of waste plastics in steelmaking, lowering of energy and emissions in metals processing, iron/steel making technologies, ferro-alloys and non-ferrous metals processing. Her address was a challenging talk about industry relationships and how postgraduate students can enhance the relevance of their research to industry and also increase their employability when their studies are completed.

The night finished with with coffee, conversation and lots of opportunities for residents to take photographs (see some of the photos taken by residents below). Our next formal dinner will have an arts focus and will feature the CEO of Musica Viva, Mary Jo Capps.


30 June, 2009

Holiday activities

Many residents of New College Village now have a short 3 week winter break. Some will go home, some will travel and some will stay at NCV and explore Sydney. This week's NCV news has lots of ideas for outings in Sydney - a Manly Ferry ride, Featherdale Wildlife Park, a day trip to the Blue Mountains, one of the many coastal walks (within walking distance!), day trips to the Hunter Valley Wineries, a few days in the Snowy Mountains skiing (the snow is good). Here are a few pictures of one group's outing at Easter during the Mid-session break. They went to the Royal Easter Show that takes place for 3 weeks every Easter holidays. Photos courtesy of one of our residents Wangari Muchiri.


20 June, 2009

Meet our residential team

New College Village is a community not just a building. We have 315 residents (actually we have 322 because there are six married couples in the building including Carmen and me). Central to the way the community is built and sustained is our residential team consisting of 6 Senior Residents, 1 Residential Tutor, a live in Dean (that's me this year) and a team of 6 academic tutors (I'll do a separate post on this group later).

The residential team is spread throughout the building. Our six senior residents live on separate floors (2-7) and a residential tutor lives on the smaller first floor (as do Carmen I). The residential team has a vital role at NCV. They work in four main areas:
  • They serve as after hours duty officers to handle problems that arise, allow access to visitors and deal with residential matters
  • They spend time geting to know all residents on their floor so that they can offer personal and academic advice when necessary.
  • They encourage social activities by hosting weekly suppers, planning other events and working with the Dean to plan NCV wide activities.
  • They act as a vital link between the Master/Dean and the residents, communicating issues that need to be addressed and informing residents about NCV news and events.
The team is made up of seven people plus Carmen and me. The team members come from varied countries and are pursuing varied courses of study. They are an important part of our work at NCV in maintaining a strong, vibrant and suportive community.

Residential team: Shelley, Sheau Fang, Arun, David (front row), Bala, Kanya, Trevor (middle row), Kirti (back).


09 June, 2009

Performing for the kids!

On Saturday night about 70 residents of NCV enjoyed a wonderful night of concert entertainment in the Main Common Room - and we were the entertainment. The night had been organised by NCV resident Yuchan Chew who was personally challenged to raise funds for the Sydney Children's Hospital as part of its annual Gold Week fundraising activities. Each year the hospital's foundation has a major week of fundraising that involves the whole community.

Yuxuan with the support of her Senior Resident on the 7th floor (Kanya Ittinitiwut) decided to organise a concert and encourage all NCV residents to get behind behind it. As part of her fundraising Yuxuan and a group of other volunteers:
  • sold tickets to the concert
  • sold merchandise to residents in the building and on campus
  • sought cash coin donations on campus
  • encouraged people to make larger donations
One of the attractions of the idea of the concert was that it was also an opportunity to do some community building as we rehearsed items and entertained each other on the night. And entertain each other we did!

There were about 20 items that included:
  • a variety of vocal items (groups, duets, solos with and without instruments)
  • a musical comedy item from the Master (me) and Carmen (my wife)
  • a card throwing act
  • some rap dancing
  • guitar items
  • digital computer generated music
  • piano recitals
  • Chinese whistle blowing
  • a presentation on the Sydney Children's Hospital by Yuxuan
The audience cheered enthusiastically each item and demanded encores from some (Kelly's love songs were a big hit!).

The night had some wonderful moments including members of the audience joining soloists when they struggled to remember the words. Another enjoyable part of the evening was some group drawing that involved the audience being invited on arrival to choose a blank cut-out of a child and to add the details of someone who you'd like to see as a child.

This was a great night that raised almost $1,000 and did a lot for community building. People are still talking about some of the memorable items.

Residents shouldn't miss the next one!


01 June, 2009

Community life at the NCV

Now that the NCV is in full operation we have been able to turn most of our attention to the building of a strong, vibrant and supportive community. Here are a few highlights of what happened last week and what will happen this week.

Monday Supper

As usual supper took place on every floor of the NCV on Monday night 25th May from 9.00pm-10.00pm. Every week the Senior Residents on each floor host supper. Food is provided by the NCV and SRs share weekly news of events in the life of the building. This is a great time for people to catch up and have as break from study.

NCV Research Seminar

Last Thursday evening (28th May) we heard from Professor Joe Wolf who spoke about his reasons for leaving a quest to become a professional musician to become instead an academic researcher and teacher working on the acoustics of the ear, the vocal tract and musical instruments. His work also covers information processing in auditory signals and cellular thermodynamics. Professor Wolf is well known on campus not just for his research but because of his reputation as a teacher.

Postgraduate Review Night

On Thursday evening our Research Seminar was followed by a seminar for research students that aimed to offer them a practice run at their mid year review. Professor Cairney acted as Chair and offered a critique of each presentation. The audience also gave verbal and written feedback. The diverse topics included the impact of landscape architecture on patients at four key hospitals, the impact of background music on the effectiveness of people's work, the role of political film in West and East Bengal, and the reasons for failure in second year university chemistry.

NCV Barbeque

On Friday evening (29th May) 250 residents turned up in the Central Courtyard for our 6 weekly BBQ. As usual the Senior Residents, the Master and Carmen cooked and the residents ate, talked and had a good time.

NCV Church Service

On Monday evening (1st June) 30 people gathered for the first NCV Church service. This was an encouraging night in which 6 residents played various parts, the Master lead the service, residents lead the music, prayed and read the Bible and Ben Gooley (Unichurch) preached from 1 Thessalonians.

NCV Soccer challenge

On Wednesday night (3rd June) the NCV is playing New College in our first major sporting challenge. This friendly match will determine who has bragging rights in football (soccer).

Sydney Children's Hospital Gold Night Concert

On Saturday evening (6th June) residents will come together for a night of entertainment. Each floor will provide varied entertainment and all proceeds from the night will go towards the annual Children's Hospital Gold Week appeal.

19 May, 2009

2009 NCV Residents - The Pioneers

Below is the photo that we took in the central courtyard in 2009 to have a record of some of the people who were living in the building at the time. We asked people to rise at 8.00am on the 19th May 2009 for the photo and served a pancake breakfast cooked on the NCV BBQs afterwards.  See how many people you still know.