27 November, 2012

2012 NCV Awards Presented at Drinks & Canapes

Dr Quinn, Pesila, Edward, Prof Cairney, Rhonda, Tamara & Platini (L to R)

On Thursday 15th November, two days after the conclusion of the examination period for the majority of students, the NCV Community gathered for the final full community function for 2012.  From 6 pm, residents enjoyed Drinks and Canapés in the Main Common Room, enjoying a selection of Australian wines and local and imported beers, along with juice and soft drink. Finger food was also served. 

This year NCV introduced for the first time a series of awards to acknowledge the unique and important contributions made by specific individuals in the NCV community. The major award, “The NCV Award”, was given to the student resident who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, has made the greatest contribution to fostering the community life of NCV during that calendar year.  A series of “NCV Service Awards” were also presented to those who had made important contributions to community life over the last year. The award winners will have their names added to an honour board in the NCV Foyer, and also received a cash prize. 

The 2012 Award winners were announced at the Drinks and Canapés Night by the Master, Professor Trevor Cairney.  The first award of the evening was an NCV Service Award, presented to Tamara Certain for her outstanding contribution to social life at NCV. One of her nominators (and there were more than one) observed that it is difficult to think of someone who is more social than Tamara: she socializes at Formal Dinners, in common rooms and even in the MCR during the study vacation.  Moreover Tamara has rare ability to make those around her feel loved and cared for, and who is committed to making all cultures feel welcome at NCV.

The second NCV Service Award was given to Ria Dev. Ria has has been a familiar face at most NCV events since she joined the community in 2011. In particular she has been an active participant in the Bollywood dancing group and a mainstay of the NCV choir, as well as being instrumental in the organization of Curry Night earlier in the year.  Ria has been heavily involved in music, in formulating and singing back-up harmonies for the choir, and through her wonderful solos including “Rolling in the Deep” at the NCV Factor and the lead vocals to “Somebody to Love” at our Spring Formal Dinner.

The third NCV Service Award was given to Edward Law.  Edward has has lived at NCV since it opened in 2009, and has been involved in almost every aspect of NCV life: Formal Dinners, Barbecues, Research Group, Music Nights, Cultural Nights, O’Week activities and sporting activities. Edward is always willing to lend a hand, to help out with cooking, to move furniture at functions and to give a word of thanks or encouragement to the people involved. Additionally, Edward was involved for a number of years with the NCV Resident Committee, chairing and organizing meetings, and also served as an Academic Tutor in Renewable Energy Engineering.  

The fourth Service Award was presented to Platini Lee (who took most of the photos on this page). Platini moved into NCV at the start of 2009, and has in fact undertaken both undergraduate and postgraduate study during his time in the community. Like Edward, Platini has been ever-present at NCV during his time.  His particular knack and passion for photography has seen him documenting many NCV events, and his photos provide an important historical record of NCV’s development as a community over the last four years.  Platini has also been involved in other community events, giving a memorable stand-up comedy performance at Talent Night 2012, as well as putting his body on the line to support another resident’s gymnastics routine. 

The fifth and final NCV Service Award for 2012 was presented to Pesila Ratnayake. Since arriving at the start of 2012 Pesila has had a profound impact on community life, especially through the formation of the NCV Band, helping to organize the NCV Talent Night 2012 and The NCV Factor. Pesila has given selflessly of his time to organize these events, and has made his own personal musical equipment available to support those events.  Moreover, he has been committed to supporting other residents, attending almost every NCV event in 2012, and has constantly sought to meet new people and to make them welcome in the community. In the words of one of his nominators: “Pesila approaches activities and events with a strong ambition to be involved, to see them come to fruition and for them to be events where all residents can feel comfortable”.  

The recipient of the 2012 NCV Award (the major award of the evening) was Rhonda Siu, PhD student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In announcing the award, Professor Cairney noted that 

A passionate musician, Rhonda has been the backbone of the NCV Choir, co-ordinating practices, arranging pieces, and conducting performances. She has put in many hours of behind the scenes co-ordination work to make the choir happen. Moreover, Rhonda has also been involved in the NCV Band, playing various instruments as part of NCV band items… A keen philosophy student, Rhonda participated in the NCV Philosophy group with thoughtful and insightful contributions, and has been a constant presence at Formal Dinners, barbecues and cultural nights. Her quiet manner belies an unwavering commitment to the NCV Community, manifest through tireless behind the scenes work to support the NCV music community over the last 2 ½ years.

Congratulations to the NCV Prize Winners for 2012!


04 October, 2012

NCV Formal Dinner – 4th October 2012

On 4th October the NCV community gathered for the 2012 Spring Formal Dinner.  Formal Dinners are an important part of life at NCV, where the community hears from a distinguished person in the university or wider community.  Earlier in the year we had heard from barrister Ms Angela Pearman and ecologist Professor Richard Kingsford. For the Spring Dinner the Speaker was Dr Kevin Cullen, who is the current CEO of NewSouth Innovations (NSI), the commercialization arm of UNSW.

Kevin has had a long career in research commercialization. Prior to joining NSI, he was Director of Research and Enterprise at the University of Glasgow. Kevin has also worked for Procter & Gamble in the UK and Belgium, in the fields of technical brand management, product development, and technology development. In addition to his significant commercial experience, Kevin holds a PhD in physical-organic chemistry from the University of Edinburgh. More recently, Kevin has been involved in the development of new approaches to improve knowledge exchange to the benefit the economy and society. In particular, Kevin led the launch of the Easy Access IP initiative, designed to significantly increase the flow of knowledge from the university into the economy and society.

At the dinner Kevin spoke about the challenges in quantifying the outputs of research and assessing the university’s “impact” in the broader society. He also challenged the understanding of university commercialization departments as solely aiming to produce revenue streams from academic research. Kevin also gave some reflections on his own career, following his trajectory from PhD student to industrial chemist and eventually to technology transfer professional. Kevin’s talk sparked a number of interesting questions, and was warmly received by the NCV community. After his address, Johann van Hensbergen, himself a PhD student in industrial chemistry, moved an excellent vote of thanks to Kevin for sharing his wisdom with the NCV community. 

During the evening attendees were also able to hear a beautiful piano recital by resident Serena Ma.  Serena is currently completing her Bachelor of Commerce / Bachelor of Laws combined degree at UNSW, but continues to play piano at a high level in addition to her studies.  At the dinner Serena played Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1. It was a wonderful performance. Additionally, residents were also treated to a fabulous performance by the NCV Band and Choir, who sang the Queen hit “Somebody to Love”. The choir and band raised the roof and set the tone for a fabulous final Formal Dinner for 2012.


21 September, 2012

The NCV Factor

After the success of NCV Talent Night earlier in semester, the talented people of NCV reconvened with another event to showcase the depth and breadth of talent in the NCV community.  Residents were treated to an extravaganza of solo and group performances, including singing, dancing, singing, juggling, singing, rap, and, in the words of the comperes Robindro Chatterji and Monish Maharaj, more singing! NCV residents Tamara Certain, Juan Lyn Ang, Ria Dev, Ahsan Kabir Murad and Rhonda Siu performed solos from artists as diverse as Shakespeare’s Sister and Christina Perri, while the NCV Band gave a sterling rendition of Train’s “Drops of Jupiter”. Erin Hauer and Natalia Novozhilova performed dance solos, while Cecilia White delivered a recital of her own poetry.

The NCV Choir sang Fun’s “We are Young” with great gusto, and Theresa Crossing and Wangari Muchiri performed a duet, as did Joni Mok and Kanayarat Sanoran. Comperes Robindro Chatterji and Monish Maharaj performed an astonishing rap rendition of “Fox in Socks”, a special tribute to the Dean’s daughter who turned 1 the day before.  Long time friend of NCV Stephen Chikazaza gave another wonderful vocal performance, while Michael Sturm braved a soccer injury to perform with the band in the final item of the night, announcing by text that “I will perform!”  The Master presented thank you gifts to all involved, noting the incredible amount of work put into the evening by everyone, especially by residents Pesila Ratnayake and Shamila Vijayamanohar. We are already looking forward to NCV’s Got Talent in 2013!

As usual Frank the Penguin made an appearance


03 September, 2012

Professor Richard Kingsford at NCV Formal Dinner

On 22nd August the NCV community gathered for the 2012 Winter Formal Dinner.  Formal Dinners are an important part of life at NCV, where the community hears from a distinguished person in the university or wider community. Earlier in the year we had heard from barrister Ms Angela Pearman. In August our speaker was Professor Richard Kingsford, prominent Australian biologist who is currently Professor of Environmental Science in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Director of the Australian Wetlands, Rivers and Landscapes Centre at UNSW. Before taking up his appointment at UNSW, Richard served as Principal Research Scientist with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and Department of Environment and Conservation. He is frequently sought out by various media outlets for expert opinion in water and environmental management. Richard has received numerous awards for his research, including the Australian Museum’s 2001 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research. 

For his presentation, Richard told the story of two Australian river systems: the Murray Darling Basin and the Lake Eyre Basin. Richard identified the Murray-Darling basin as being in need of significant reform to water allocations, and reflected on the importance of science to good public policy outcomes. Richard cited the Lake Eyre Basin as an example of at river system where effective environmental management has led to excellent outcomes in terms of conservation and biodiversity. After his address, Erin Hauer, Master of Conservation Biology student moved an excellent vote of thanks to Richard for sharing his wisdom with the NCV community. 

The Murray River
During the evening attendees were also able to hear a beautiful piano recital by resident Joni Mok. Joni is currently completing her Bachelor of Building and Construction Management at UNSW, but continues to play piano at a high level in addition to her studies. At the dinner Joni played Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. It was a delightful performance.


21 August, 2012

2012 NCV Talent Night

On Friday the 10th of August, NCV residents gathered in the Main Common Room for the ‘2012 NCV Talent Night’.

The night started out with the NCV choir performing ‘When you Believe’ from Prince of Egypt accompanied by Premilla Chinappa Quinn on the piano. This was followed by a short animation clip created by resident Shu Low.

Residents were also treated to a lovely piano piece (Rondo Capriccioso op.14 by F. Mendelssohn) played by resident Joni Mok.

One of the highlights of the event was resident Vivien Lee’s rendition of ‘Valerie’ which wowed the audience as they clapped along to the beat. Next up, resident Natalia Novozhilova performed a beautiful modern jazz dance routine.

One of the surprises of the night was the next act, by residents Theresa Crossing and Tim Amos. What started out as a simple juggling act turned into an acrobatic act leaving the audience gasping with amazement.

The evening took a more dramatic turn as resident Ahsan Kabir belted out a hindi song (Na Jaane Koyi) accompanied by residents Ria Dev and Pesila Ratnayake.

Resident daredevil Kevin Phang with the help of Platini Lee and Majid Sepanji then took to the stage to perform an acrobatic act called ‘the human flag’. Platini Lee put aside his usual role as the ‘official photographer’ leaving the audience in stitches with his stand-up comedy.

Not to disappoint, Cecilia White caught everyone’s attention with her poetry reading performance entitled ‘A Haunting of Nightvowels’.

Next up to showcase her talents, resident Rachel Chung performed the First Movement to Moonlight Sonata.

Kevin Phang then took the stage again to perform a solo guitar piece.

Stephan Chikazaza, a ‘usual’ in previous Music Nights left the audience in awe, performing one of his own compositions.

The night ended with a bang as the NCV Band performed ‘Somebody that I used to know’, ‘If you’re Gone’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ while unearthing the talent of future rockstar Michael Sturm (senior resident).

Events such as these are regularly held at NCV to bring individuals together. It is meant to provide a venue for residents to showcase their talents while allowing them to get away from the stresses of work and university for that short span of time. All in all, the event was definitely a success, and one thing is for sure, everyone left with a smile on their faces.

And of course, at the NCV, the show isn’t over till the fat penguin dances. Our very own mascot, Frank took to the stage, getting the crowd pumped up while performing the steps to YMCA.


06 August, 2012

Jamaica Night at NCV

On 6th August 2012 the Caribbean nation of Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence. On Saturday 4th August NCV’s only Jamaican resident, Master of Policy Studies student Tameka Lee, organized an evening of Jamaica-themed celebrations to mark the occasion. 
The Main Common Room was decked out in the colours of the Jamaican flag: black, green and gold, and residents were encouraged to wear something in the same colours. Tameka commenced the evening with an introduction to Jamaica, introducing the geography, demographics and history, accompanied by a slide show.  This was followed by a number of distinctly Jamaican items: a performance on steel drum, a recital of the Louise Bennett Coverley poem “Colonization in Reverse”, a rendition of the Harry Belafonte classic “The Banana Boat Song” and a lesson in elementary patois language: “wah gwan?” (what’s going on?). The NCV dancing group put together a dance for the occasion, and residents enjoyed some delicious Jamaican food (goat curry and jerk chicken). 

To cap off a brilliant night for Jamaica Usain Bolt commenced the ultimately successful defence of his Olympic 100m title in the early hours of 4th August.  Go Jamaica!


16 July, 2012

NCV Mid Year O'Weekend

At the start of each semester the NCV community welcomes its new residents with an O’Week program. The aim of the O’Week program is to help students familiarize themselves with Sydney, the University, and, most importantly, the NCV community. For Semester Two we hold an abbreviated “O’Weekend” program, which in 2012 ran from Friday 13th July – Sunday 15th July. The program included a Pizza and Karaoke Night, a day trip to Circular Quay, our Annual Cultural Night and a Games Night.

Some of the wonderful food
The weekend kicked off with Pizza and Karaoke in the Main Common Room. Residents enjoyed mingling, music and pizza, before the karaoke machine fired up and residents sang their own versions of AC/DC, Kenny Rogers, Avril Lavigne and Vanilla Ice (to name a select few)! It was a fantastic start to O’Weekend as people got to know one another and shared their considerable (or in some cases questionable) musical talents.

Shot taken from a Sydney Ferry (TC)

Wangari in traditional Kenyan dress
The day trip took students through the CBD to the popular tourist destination and transport hub of Circular Quay. After a few snaps in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, residents took a look around the Harbour, enjoyed a short walk and made new friends. Sydney has one of the world’s most recognizable harbours, and for many new residents they were seeing Sydney’s most famous attractions for the first time.

On Saturday night NCV hosted its Annual Cultural Night. This event provided students with the opportunity to showcase their various cultures through food, dress, national symbols, general info, and music. Countries represented at the 2012 Cultural Night were Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, Egypt, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Jamaica, The Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the United States. The Cultural Night is a major highlight on the NCV calendar, and it is always fantastic to see people proudly representing their culture and history.

Sunday night saw O’Weekend draw to a close with some games in the Main Common Room. Between computer games, card games and board games there was something for everyone, not to mention some snacks and drinks as well. Monopoly was keenly contested, with one game continuing till well after midnight. With the end of that game the curtain came down on O’Weekend 2012, and rose on Semester Two!

16 May, 2012

Curry Night

NCV is home to residents from all over the world, including a good number from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. On Friday 11th May a group of residents, led by resident Ria Dev, hosted a Cultural Night showcasing various aspects of sub-continental culture. MC-ed by residents Vinam Jain and Vivien Lee, the evening started with a series of video presentations about each of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Resident Shaupnil Khan then sang two Bengali songs, accompanied by Shamila Vijayanmohar on piano and Pesila Ratnayake on guitar. Ria then performed some Hindi songs with Gagan Singh and Adheesh Ramani, again accompanied by Shamila and Pesila.

The formal part of the evening concluded with a fabulous set of dances by the NCV dance troupe of Ria, Geetha, Ashi, Zeynep, Vivien, Tamara, Sumi & Geetu.

To conclude the evening resident Geetu Vanjani taught the hundred or so residents in attendance a few simple dance steps. Afterward, residents moved out into the NCV Courtyard to enjoy some delicious Indian food prepared by resident Uma Chellapandi and her team. The evening was a great showcase of sub-continental culture. Being able to participate in events like Curry Night is a great benefit of living in a community like NCV.


22 March, 2012

Formal Dinner with Angela Pearman

On 22nd March the NCV community gathered for the First Formal Dinner for 2012. Formal Dinners are an important part of life at NCV, where the community hears from a distinguished person in the university or wider community. In 2011 the speakers had been public health academic Ms Anne Bunde-Birouste, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre CEO Mr Ton van Amerongen and prominent UNSW law academic Professor Jane McAdam . This time the invited speaker was Ms Angela Pearman, barrister and former ABC Television newsreader.

Angela is a well-known Sydney barrister with an extensive practice in planning and environmental law, commercial law, administrative law and equity. Since 2000 her practice has focused on matters in the Land and Environment Court where she has advised government departments, councils, developers and community groups.

Prior to her legal career Angela was a presenter with ABC Television News in Sydney from 1988 to 2000, during which time she hosted various bulletins broadcast nationally and internationally. Angela was also the inaugural presenter of the “Compass” program in 1989. Prior to 1988 she presented and produced documentary programs for Radio National’s daily “Offspring” program, and presented various live shows on Radio 702 and ABC Classic FM.

During her presentation, Angela reflected on the trajectory of her career, from working initially as a languages teacher, through the media and ultimately to the law. She identified confidence and resilience as two qualities that were important in having a successful career. Additionally, she gave some fascinating reflections on the impact of social media on the law, highlighting the Kony 2012 and Rush Limbaugh campaigns as having important implications for justice. After Angela’s address, Shamila Vijayamanohar, law student and NCV Senior Resident moved an excellent vote of thanks to her for sharing her wisdom with the NCV community.

During the evening attendees were also able to hear a beautiful piano recital by resident Tan Hsuan. Tan is currently completing his Master of Optometry at UNSW, but continues to play piano at a high level in addition to his studies. At the dinner Tan played Schubert’s Impromptu in B Flat. It was a lovely performance.

20 February, 2012

O'Week 2012

The year kicks off at NCV with an O’Week program. The aim of O’Week is to introduce our residents to each other, to the local community and to Sydney. It’s a great time of building new friendships and finding your feet, with a little help, in a new place. One of the challenges at NCV is that some of our residents (PhD and MBA students) have already been at uni for a month or two by the time O’Week rolls around. Even so, a week of organized social events can be the perfect way to break up the relentlessness of study!

The week began with a tour of Sydney. On Sunday 19th February, students set off to Circular Quay, to check out Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. After that, the group hopped on one of Sydney’s famous harbor ferries, and headed across to the seaside suburb of Manly for a walk along the beach… and an ice cream.

On Monday, new residents were officially welcomed to NCV by the Master and Dean. After the formalities, the students joined a “Supper Crawl”, moving from floor to floor of the NCV building to meet the Senior Resident team. Residents enjoyed a different snack on each floor as well as the opportunity to meet other NCV residents (both new and old).

Tuesday of O’Week saw the inaugural Fat Penguin Night, NCV’s own original “ice breaker”. Borrowing from “speed-dating” but without any romantic objective, residents circulated, spending two minutes with each other before moving on to the next person. The evening was preceded by drinks and canapés in the MCR.

For Wednesday night’s activity, residents descended on the Main Common Room for an O’Week favorite, the annual NCV Trivia Night. Residents competed alongside their floormates for trivia supremacy. Level 4 snuck home in a thriller, beating Level 2 by one and a half points.

On Thursday night residents hit some of the classy cocktail bars in the city, at NCV’s annual 5-Star Hotel Crawl. Destinations included the Shangri La’s Blu Bar on 36, the Opera Bar at the Sydney Opera House and the ECQ Bar at Quay Grand. Residents enjoyed a quiet drink with great company and magnificent views.

On Friday afternoon interested folk gathered for the Local Church Services Introduction (at 5 pm), at which the Senior Ministry Resident gave new residents some guidance in what to look for in a new church. Residents also promoted their own congregations, and introduced some of the various ministry opportunities available on campus and within NCV. After this the Senior Resident Team cooked up a delicious barbecue of steaks, chicken fillet, sausages and vegetarian patties. This was followed by karaoke in the Main Common Room. Nathan and Michaels’ version of Thunderstruck by AC/DC was a hit, along with the Senior Resident Team’s version of Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler.

Early on Saturday evening the researchers of NCV gathered in the Main Common Room for some wine and nibbles. NCV is home to a number of PhD, Honours and ILP students, and effort is made to get the researchers mixing together from early in the year. At 8 pm focus turned to the Roof Top Terrace for the NCV Wine & Cheese Night, where residents could sample a range of wine and cheeses from across Australia.

Sunday afternoon saw NCVers head to Kensington Bowling Club for a quiet afternoon of Lawn Bowls. It was the perfect way to round out an enjoyable week of getting to know each other.