16 December, 2010

2010 Christmas Service - 9th December

The 2010 NCV Christmas Service was held in the Main Common Room on Thursday 9th December.  This provided an opportunity for residents to gather and reflect on some of the events which occurred around the time of Jesus’ birth, and the significance of those events for people 2000 years later.  The Master of New College and New College Village, Prof. Trevor Cairney, spoke on Matthew 2:1-12, a passage in the Bible which talks about the visit of the so-called Three Wise Men (more correctly, “The Magi”). The passage highlighted the response of the Magi to Jesus’ birth, and contrasted it with that of King Herod. Trevor drew some important conclusions from the passage, challenging residents to think about the real events which lay behind Christmas.

During the service the Dean of NCV, Dr John Quinn, also gave some historical background to the traditions around Christmas time: the use of conifers as Christmas trees, the tradition of decorating trees with baubles and lights, the association of red and white candy canes with Christmas and the origin of the term “carol” to describe Christmas songs. NCV’s always-able musicians led the residents in some well-known Christmas carols: “Silent Night”, “Away in a Manger”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Once in Royal David’s City”, “O Holy Night” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain”.  To finish the evening residents joined together in decorating the NCV Christmas Tree and enjoyed some traditional Christmas food: pannetone, Christmas cake, fruit mince pies and candy canes. It was a great way to start the holiday season with the NCV family!


03 December, 2010

Science On Display

The foyer in the NCV now has a wonderful exhibit that celebrates the contribution of science and scientists at UNSW. A central focus of the display is the life and work of C.J. Kit Milner- UNSW’s Chair of Applied Physics (1952-1976) and the first Dean of Science.

Staff from New College and UNSW, together with family & friends of Kit Milner attended a morning tea on 24 September 2010 to view the new Kit Milner Scientific Instruments Display. The informal gathering included 3 generations of Milners, UNSW Archives staff, past and present senior UNSW academics, including the current Dean of Science, Prof. Merlin Crossley.

Above: Members of the Milner Family

The exhibition includes is a wall display covering some of the significant events Milner experienced while working at the UNSW School of Physics and a separate display cabinet housing personal artefacts highlighting Milner’s student life, work, literary interests and Christian faith. The physical display is also complemented by a virtual display that you will find HERE.

Above: Dr Jessica Milner Davis, daughter of Kit Milner

There were several short speeches from the College Master, Prof. Trevor Cairney and family members. Trevor outlined how the exhibit evolved over a couple of years with various people involved in the project throughout that time. The concept for an exhibit originated from the College’s desire to acknowledge the Milner family’s contributions to New College Village and recognise academics of UNSW’s past whose work shaped the university as we know today. There was special significance in NCV being home to such an exhibition as the site on which it stands was once home to the University's collection of historical scientific instruments.

Guests were also given an introduction to web pages of the exhibit on a large screen. The website also includes additional material not in the exhibit.

Following the speeches, guests wandered through the NCV foyer viewing the exhibit and scientific instruments. It was an enjoyable time for family and friends to catch up and reminisce.

25 November, 2010

Thanksgiving - 25th November

NCV is home to students from all over the world, including quite a few from the United States of America and Canada. At Thanksgiving time, a group of our American residents (led by Anetra Moore and Jaye Del Rosario) put together a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the NCV community. This was of great interest to the local residents, as in Australia there is no Thanksgiving celebration. In fact, such was the dearth of Thanksgiving-related products in Australia that many of the decorations were ordered in from the United States! The dinner had all the Thanksgiving essentials: turkey, cranberry sauce, roast vegetables, sweet potato, pumpkin and apple pie.

During dinner Anetra gave a short presentation about the origins of the Thanksgiving, which dates back to 1621.  There were also a number of interesting “Thanksgiving Facts” presented:  we learnt that Minnesota is the top Turkey-producing state of the US, while Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington lead the way on cranberry production.  Residents also learnt about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Black Friday shopping specials and the host of football games that fall on Thanksgiving.  Anetra and Dino then showed a short clip of the Presidential Turkey Pardon, one of the more unusual Thanksgiving traditions.  Thanksgiving at NCV gave some fantastic glimpses into American culture – yet another benefit of living in a diverse and enriching community.


18 November, 2010

Carols by Candlelight - 18th November

Unlike the in Northern Hemisphere, in Australia Christmas time falls in summer. Instead of snow, Christmas is associated with warm sunny days, long daylight hours, and the long school holidays. As a result, many activities around Christmas will be held outside.  Families enjoy barbecues together, play some outdoor games, go to the beach and generally enjoy the fantastic Sydney weather.

One activity which is held in communities all around Australia is “Carols By Candlelight”.  At “Carols By Candlelight” people gather outdoors around dusk and sing Christmas songs together. To help them see the lyrics, people hold candles as they sing.  “Carols By Candlelight” events are generally organized by churches, groups of churches or local councils.  A typical event might also include a talk about the birth of Jesus, a visit by Santa Claus, fireworks or a performance by a local band or well-known singer.  The two most famous examples of “Carols By Candlelight” are those held in The Domain in Sydney on the Saturday before Christmas Day, and at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on Christmas Eve.

In 2010 NCV held its own “Carols By Candlelight” for the first time.  A talented group of NCV musicians prepared a program of Christmas songs including “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “Silver Bells”, “O Holy Night”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Silent Night”, to name but a small selection of the songs sung. Candles were distributed and people enjoyed a warm, late spring evening singing traditional songs and hymns about Christmas.  Midway through the evening the program paused so that students could enjoy some food a drink together.  After this the band were then kind enough to take requests, singing some resident’s favorite songs late into the evening.


15 November, 2010

November Drinks & Canapes

To finish off the year in style the NCV community gathered after the final exams for a Drinks and Canap├ęs Evening in the Main Common Room.  Of course, being a postgraduate community one of the unique features of life at NCV is that it never really stops – there is no “end” per se to the year’s events. That said, for the significant number of NCV residents doing coursework programs the exams had finished on 15th November and so there were plenty of reasons to celebrate!

Students enjoyed a couple of drinks and a host of delicious short eats: spring rolls, cheese and spinach triangles, falafels, Cajun prawns, vol au vents, sausage rolls, vegetable sticks, corn chips and dips. The Dean of NCV Dr John Quinn made a few short remarks about the great year which NCV had enjoyed.  Dr Quinn posed the question “what makes for a great year?” and answered it with three key ingredients:  great events, great staff and great residents.  Dr Quinn paid special tribute to the Academic Tutors, Senior Residents, office staff and maintenance staff for all the great work they did responding to the various needs of the community.

The night continued on until about 9:30 pm, when the lights suddenly went up and the piano was opened. A group of residents gathered to rehearse for the next NCV event – Carols By Candlelight.  So much for “the end of the year”!! As noted above community life continues at NCV the whole year around.

13 October, 2010

NCV Oct Formal Dinner

 On the 13th October the NCV community gathered for the final Formal Dinner for 2010.  So far in 2010 we had heard from former UNSW Deputy Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor Dr Jessica Milner-Davis and prominent Australian businessman and actuary Dr Ian Pollard.  This time it was the scientists’ and engineers’ turn to have the spotlight.

On 13th October the NCV community welcomed eminent physicist Prof. Michelle Simmons from UNSW’s School of Physics. Prof. Simmons is currently the Director of the Centre for Quantum Computing Technology and the Director of UNSW’s Atomic Fabrication Facility. Her research involves the development of novel electronic devices at the atomic scale.  Michelle spoke of her research group’s investigations into the development of quantum computing technology, with its promise of providing an exponential increase in processor speeds. The mixed audience of scientists and non-scientists could clearly appreciate the significance of Michelle’s research and its implications in a wide variety of fields which depend on ever-faster computers. Libin George, PhD student in the School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications moved an excellent vote of thanks expressing the community’s appreciation for having heard from such a distinguished scientist.

During the evening the NCV community was also fortunate to hear two pieces performed by resident Elina Yasumoto.  Elina is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Music, and is currently completing her Juris Doctor degree in UNSW’s Faculty of Law.  Elina played two pieces at the dinner, Franz Liszt’s “Gondoliera” and Australian composer Miriam Hyde’s “Study in Blue, White and Gold”.  They were fabulous performances.

12 October, 2010

NCV Cultural Night

The NCV community is highly culturally diverse, with 50 different nationalities represented.  At present there are residents from every continent, as well as from a number of island nations such as Mauritius, American Samoa and Fiji. With such a diverse community, living at NCV provides a unique opportunity to meet people from many other places and learn about cultures which are quite distinct from one’s own.

As part of our “O’Weekend” for semester 2, NCV hosted its inaugural Cultural Night.  This evening provided an opportunity to taste food from a number of different countries, as well as hear music from all over the world. Countries represented included India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Chile, Korea and Japan. A wide variety of food was available for tasting, including savory snacks, main courses and sweets.  For the new and returning residents who attended the evening, Cultural Night 2010 provided a unique glimpse into life in distant places.  Of course, students also had the chance to try some local Australian favorites such as pavlova  and lamingtons.  There was even an opportunity to taste the popular Australian spread “Vegemite”, something only a few residents were courageous enough to try!

A particular highlight was provided by Senior Resident Karthigan Balasubramaniam, who, with the help of some Sri Lankan friends, performed some traditional drumming. There was also an opportunity to be dressed in a sari for a portrait. The night was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

25 September, 2010

African Night

NCV is home to students from 50 different nations. Included among these are a number of residents from Africa, and in particular from Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Uganda & Egypt. On the 17th September, a group of our African students hosted the inaugural “NCV Africa Night”, which was aimed at showcasing the art, culture, language, music and food of the African continent.

To start the evening, residents were welcomed in the local languages of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Mauritius. This was followed by an opportunity to enjoy some of the sumptuous food which had been prepared by the organising team. Lyz Murago and Wangari Muchiri, both from Kenya, introduced all the different dishes with some background on what they were made from and how to eat them.

Once residents were settled with their food, the African students performed a short drama based on an traditional African folktale about the origin of thunder. This was followed by a sing-along in Swahili, which was introduced to the attendees by Senior Academic Tutor Mark Dixon, who had formerly worked in Africa aboard one of the Mercy Ships. Patience Mbabazi, from Uganda, then explained some of the traditional jewellery of Africa.

The night continued with poetry, African tea and coffee, music and dance. To conclude the night, everyone joined in for an “African Shuffle”. It was fantastic to leave the evening knowing a bit more about where many of our residents come from. It is hoped that there will be more opportunities to showcase different ethnic groups and nationalities of NCV at similar events in the future.

Above: Residents of NCV doing the African Shuffle


02 September, 2010

NCV Sept Formal Dinner

On the 2nd September the NCV community gathered for the second Formal Dinner for 2010. Formal Dinners are an important part of life at NCV, where the community hears from a distinguished person on a topic of interest to a higher education community. In June we had heard from former UNSW Deputy Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor Dr Jessica Milner-Davis. This time the invited speaker was Dr Ian Pollard, well-known Australian businessman and actuary.

Dr Pollard is currently the Chairman of Corporate Express Australia Limited and a Director of Milton Corporation Limited, having previously been the Chairman of Just Group Limited (which incorporates the well known retailer “Just Jeans”). Ian has also been a director of the major Australian insurer GIO and the spectacle retailer OPSM.

Drawing from his broad background in corporate finance and advice, private equity investment and public company governance, Dr Pollard gave a fantastic address which was full of advice for those starting out on careers in business. One piece of advice which was particularly memorable was to be aware of the difference between obtaining five years’ experience and obtaining one years’ experience five times over. Dr Pollard also advised residents to prepare well for meetings and make the most of opportunities presented to them. To hear from such a successful businessman was a great treat. After Ian’s address, Nipun Seth, MBA student in the Australian Graduate School of Management moved an excellent vote of thanks to Dr Pollard for sharing his wisdom and experiences with the NCV community.

During the evening attendees were also able to hear a beautiful piano recital by resident Yvonne Chow. Yvonne is currently completing her Masters in Organisational Psychology in UNSW’s Faculty of Science, but continues to play piano at a high level in addition to her studies. At the dinner Yvonne played Franz Liszt’s “Lieberstraum No. 3”, her performance prompting enthusiastic compliments from Dr Pollard and the Master Prof. Trevor Cairney.

27 August, 2010

NCV Music Night

On the 27th August NCV hosted its Inaugural Music Night, which featured a range of different instrumental and vocal pieces performed by NCV residents.  The evening was preceded by some drinks and nibbles in the main common room, after which residents settled in for an evening of fine music.
To start the night, a choir of NCV residents sang the Jay Althouse & Sally Albrecht song “I am a small part of the world.” This was followed by the woodwind & string ensemble of Vivian Shek, Serena Ma, Kay Chen and Diane Wong, who played pieces by Haydn and Mozart. They also played one of Serena’s own compositions, “To Pop the Question”, demonstrating that NCV residents can not only play, they can also compose!

The next items were performed by resident Elina Yasumoto, who is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Music.  Elina played the “Regard No. X: Le Regard de l’Espirit de Joie” (from Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur L’Enfant Jesus”) followed by “Etude-tableau Op.39 no.5 in E-flat minor” by Rachmaninoff.  Elina also explained some of the history of the pieces before performing them, which was informative for those residents unfamiliar with the nomenclature around piano music.

In the next phase of the evening there were a series of guitar pieces performed by Kevin Phang, Roma Singhal and Sharon McGowan, punctuated by a Japanese item, “Niji”, performed by Mark Dixon (vocals), Diane Wong (piano), and Serena Ma (violin).  Kevin played two pieces by contemporary guitarist Andy McKee (“Art of Motion” & “Rylynn”) while Sharon sang the Parachute Band’s “Salvation Song”.  Kevin is a completely home grown guitarist, having first picked up the instrument while a resident at NCV, and having been initially taught by another resident! Completing this bank of songs were Roma Singhal and Sharon McGowan, who played guitar while singing a medley of contemporary songs.  Sharon and Roma involved the whole audience, who sang along to familiar tunes such as The Cranberries’ “Zombie”, The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” and Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”.

To conclude the night Elina returned to play Liszt’s Tarantella from “Venezia e Napoli”.  During the performance the Dean’s six month old daughter Indumathi snuck down the front to watch Elina’s flying fingers. It was a fitting end to a fabulous evening, showcasing the incredible depth of talent of NCV residents.

25 July, 2010

Supporting Research Students at NCV

Currently New College Village is home to many students undertaking either PhD degrees or Masters degrees by research.  Additionally, many other students who are undertaking coursework programs complete a minor or major thesis as part of their program.  To support these students, NCV runs a monthly Research Student Group.

The aims of the Research Student Group are:
  • to encourage the researchers to socialize with other people having similar experiences; 
  • to hear about different students’ research; and 
  • be equipped for a career in research.  
Each meeting includes a short time for having a drink and some nibbles, followed by a research presentation from one of our residents and a “skills” presentation by a relevant expert.  The meetings are typically attended by 20-30 students.

So far this year we have had a number of seminars aimed at giving our residents a helping hand on the road to a career in academe.   At one meeting, a panel of upper year PhD students shared their wisdom on “Surviving the First Year of a PhD”.  The panel was made up of students studying in different areas - Naadir Junaid (Faculty of Arts), Laura Sharpe (Faculty of Science) and James Lam (Faculty of Engineering) - and so there were a wide range of perspectives presented.

Other presentations have included:

Ms Janice Besch (Director of the UNSW Grants Management Office), delivered a presentation entitled “An Overview of the Australian Research Grants System”.  Ms Besch’s presentation included some invaluable tips for anyone embarking on a research career.

The Dean of Residents at NCV Dr John Quinn drew on his earlier experience in intellectual property to present on “Protecting Your Inventions: Inside the Patent Process”.

Associate Professor Sue Starfield from the UNSW Learning Centre gave our residents some invaluable advice on “What Thesis Examiner’s Look For”.  Sue’s presentation was full of helpful tips for those facing the daunting task of writing a thesis.

An exciting lineup of speakers have been arranged for coming meetings. A/Prof. Sebastien Perrier from the University of Sydney will provide the students with some tips on getting a high impact publication, Prof. Christine Alexander from UNSW’s Faculty of Arts will share some insights for those setting out on a a career in academia and alumnus Dr Ben Waterhouse will speak about setting up your own consultancy after completing postgraduate research.

To finish off the year the Master of New College, Professor Trevor Cairney will draw on his extensive experience as a supervisor of postgraduate research to advise on how best to get along with your PhD supervisor. A presentation not to be missed!

Additionally, we have also heard a wonderful series of presentations by our own students on their varied and exciting research.  Students at NCV are currently undertaking research on topics as diverse as housing issues in Malaysia through to cancer mechanisms, Bengali political cinema and data structures. We look forward to an interesting semester as we support and encourage our students undertaking research degrees.


15 June, 2010

NCV Formal Dinner

Three times each year NCV residents gather for a Formal Dinner.  These events involve a three course meal, a musical item (or two) and a speech on a topic of interest to a higher education community. The evenings typically go into the night as residents enjoy coffee and conservation, not to mention a photograph or two!

At the last Formal Dinner, the guest speaker was Dr Jessica Milner Davis.  Dr Davis is currently an Honorary Associate in the School of Letters, Art and Media at the University of Sydney, where she pursues research in the broad field of humour studies.  Prior to this, Dr Davis was a long-standing member of the UNSW Council, during which she also served as Deputy Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor. Dr Davis was also a former President of the UNSW Alumni Association and a former member of the New College Board.

At the NCV Formal Dinner, Dr Davis spoke about three remarkable English women who were pioneers in science and mathematics, one of whom was her paternal grandmother.  The talk provided a fascinating insight into times past, with Dr Davis showing many early photographs.  It was particularly interesting to hear how the number of women completing science degrees had evolved over the last century, and how the various policies around women in universities had evolved for the better.

  At the dinner we were also fortunate to have resident Kevin Phang play the guitar for us.  Kevin is a completely home-grown guitarist, having picked up the instrument while a resident at NCV.  On the night, Kevin demonstrated his skills by playing the famed Mason Williams tune “Classical Gas”, and the Andy McKee composition “Drifting”.

23 April, 2010

NCV Harbour Cruise

The New College Village is more than just wonderful air-conditioned ensuite accommodation on campus. The beautiful building that people recognise as the New College Village is home to a community of 315 University of New South Wales students. The residents are drawn for 50+ countries and are primarily postgraduate students.

The NCV Staff and Senior residents provide care and support in many forms. The aim is to provide a safe and supportive place where students can live and learn while they make friends from all over the world.

To help make this happen we run varied social activities that offer opportunities for residents to get to know one another in relaxed and non-threatening ways.

Last night the NCV had its inaugural Sydney Harbour Cruise for over 110 residents. This was a wonderful 4 hour cruise of one of the world's most beautiful harbours. Dinner was provided as was a DJ who provided music for residents to dance to.

It was a wonderful night that was enjoyed by all.


22 February, 2010

NCV O'Week Activities 2010

While our predominantly postgraduate residents arrive at different times, we have planned an extensive O'Week program to help orient everyone to the community and University life.

The program started on Sunday with a 'Sampling Tour' of beautiful Sydney. This involved taking public transport to the city and touring all the sites before taking a ferry across the harbour to the famous Many Beach area. The residents who went had a fantastic time.

Over the rest of the week we have many other great events planned.

Monday (8-10pm)

Dean's introduction to NCV life and Pancakes for supper

Tuesday (12-2pm)

Treasure Hunt in the Local Area to discover all the key shops, resources and places of interest near to the NCV and the campus.

Wednesday Night

Research Student 'mixer (6.30-7.30pm)
Trivia Night (8-10pm)

Thursday (8-10.30pm)

Movie Night Under the Stars in the NCV Courtyard

Friday (4-8.30pm)

Bush Dance ('Currency Lads' band) and BBQ


Lawn Bowls at Kensington Bowling Club (2-4pm)
Badminton & Indoor Soccer (6-8pm)
Local Church Services Introduction (5pm)


Floor by Floor Activities - Each floor to have its own social activity

12 January, 2010

First Combined Supper for 2010

The New College Village places a high priority on community activities, pastoral care and academic support. One of our many activities is a regular combined supper every Monday night at 9.00pm. These are hosted by the Senior Residents on each floor. Every month we have a combined supper in the Main Common Room or the Central Courtyard.

Last we held our first combined supper for 2010. This was a great chance for the residents to meet the new live-in Dean and his wife. Dr John Quinn and Dr Premilla Quinn moved into the building on the 1st January 2010. Carmen and Trevor moved out of the building just before Christmas. Trevor has gone back to being the Master (CEO) of New College and the NCV. Trevor will still be involved at the NCV (and helped to cook the pancakes last night). Carmen will also attend as many events as she can.

Above: John & Premilla at supper last night at the NCV

Dr Quinn comes with an interesting background. He is a graduate of UNSW and lived in New College for 8 years (1995-2002), including periods as a Senior Resident, Assistant Dean and Acting Dean. He completed his PhD in 2002 through the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design at UNSW. After he left UNSW he was appointed as a Research Fellow at Melbourne University in the Dept of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (2003-2007). From 2007 to the present he has been working as Technical Assistant & Trade Marks Attorney at Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys. John is married to Premilla who is an anaesthetist by profession and is also expecting their first child in the next few months.

Above: NCV Residents enjoying the pancakes