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Watercolour For Everyone

Video by Rudolf.

Watercolour For Everyone was a 6-session course held at the UBC Learning Exchange and was lead by Vancouver artist Rudolf Kurt Penner (winter 2013). The video above is an excerpt from one of the classes.

Check out Rudolf’s website here

Watercolour examples on the Internet

Beautiful watercolour paintings

Painting stones

Painting a natural landscape


Working at the Learning Exchange

As an intern at the UBC Learning Exchange, I’ve been very appreciative of the time and opportunity I’ve had to chat and interact with some of the many patrons from around the neighbourhood accessing the space; a space wherein, truly no day is the same.

Specifically, I’ve enjoyed developing a political discussion group with community members who frequently enter the space during drop-in afternoon hours. Its basis has been to foster a place for patrons to voice their opinions where they do not usually have a platform to. It’s been an experience, recognizing my own mistakes in what it takes to conceive of community and trust in this regard. I’ve wanted to make sure I could differentiate from the many attempts that are, though well-meaning, often exploitive of community members and residents of the Downtown Eastside. The neighbourhood itself, albeit facing gentrification and so many other struggles, is a great lesson in the paradigm of community.

An important task of mine has been to help out and be there on support during Drop-in afternoon hours. These afternoons have been nothing short of a blast. Busy and hectic, they contrast the formulaic forms of traditional learning and engagement. Coffee, computers, life discussion, and a myriad of anecdotes help to make the afternoons memorable. This is the time when anyone in the community can come into the Exchange to access the space and use computers, with assistance available should they need it. It is an attempt to bridge the digital divide that creates systemic barriers for individuals without any connections to computer education. Because the space is also used as a tool to seek company with other community members, I can see why it is upheld as a safer space for many patrons.

I believe that I’m fortunate to be have been given the chance to work with people in having discussions around current affairs and reaching out to other organizations around the neighbourhood. It seems to me that my time working at the UBC Learning Exchange will heighten my capacities for both community activism and civic engagement. And of course it has demonstrated a great introduction into Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and endeavors to cultivate solidarity with its residents.

~ Tania Ehret

The Oasis Mural Project

Watch this video, by Kim Villagante, on the Oasis Mural: A project outside a Neighbourhood Housing Society site. Visit it at East Hastings between Carol and Columbia.


Under a light sun with a cool breeze
New sprouts peer from rocks and fields
In a twinkle’s flash
A fresh bright green spreads

Beautiful yet concealed
The streak deepens
A carpet unfolds
Filling crevices and cracks

Jade ripens
With deep yellow daisies
One essential stroke
A universe unfurls

Assumpta Grace


Tiny fiery sparks projected up
Rapidly a spectacular display of light
Seen in threes
Spread vigorously in the sky

From the centre
Another colour evolved
Yellow with red or green with pink or orange with purple

At times, light golden bushes on the sea
Or darkest clouds as background
Azure, cobalt, emerald, sapphire, indigo, ultra violet
Spilling and spreading

But the show presents transience
It is a play with radiance

Assumpta Grace

Anyone Can Learn to Draw: Artist or Not!

Anyone Can Learn to Draw:  Artist or Not!

Check out these pictures drawn by people in the Portraits 101 workshop:


My workshop is based on a simple technique: how to translate the human face on to the paper using pencil.  By practicing the technique individuals can improve and develop their talents.  Previous workshops have been with a small group of participants, sharing their talents, experiences, artistic abilities in fun social exchanges.

I enjoyed and you will too!!!  Everyone is welcome –  the next one starts Wednesday Sept. 5th, 2012

By Peter Brusnican – Facilitator for Portraits 101  

Building a Web Page One Layer at a Time

Check out this YouTube video created by MackonLine.  It’s a creative little video about what he learned when updating the deLuxe Junk Co. website, something that was both fun and educational for him.

MackonLine is an IT Facilitator with the Learning Exchange’s Contributing Through Computers Program


The incessant rain
Indeed a blessing

I always tread lightly
Not to disturb the rivulets

I open wide my eyes
Beside the small side streams
A net of red leaves lays the quilt
On it were strewn askew
Yellow or light green or dark brown or azure or slightly purple
Leaves of every shape and tongue

How awesomely lovely is this sight?

Assumpta Grace

Want to Play Guitar?

By Wayne Parenteau

There are easy to learn steps for beginners to be able to play simple songs using a three to four chord structure technique. These are suitable for anyone who’s interested in learning guitar at the beginning stages.  By learning these techniques you can learn to play your favourite songs.  It won’t make you a rock star right away, but it’s a good place to start.  The more you put into it the better you’ll feel about your playing.

Check out these four chords, they are used alot in Country and easy Rock songs like the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

What’s Important?

Strumming the guitar correctly

Reading cord charts

Practice practise practise – practise makes perfect.


If you want to learn more about basic guitar playing you can find me at the Learning Exchange where I do lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 – 5 PM.  The Learning Exchange is at 612 Main Street, near Keefer Street.

Memoirs of a Thanksgiving Superstar


I’m in a bath. It’s a little too hot for me.
I’ll be patient for another special night.

I was in a spa this morning.
I saw somebody having oil treatment next to me.
Her skin looked so smooth like a new born baby.
I couldn’t wait to have oil on me.
I wish I had silence during my massage.
I heard someone say I look yummy.

After that, I was in a tanning studio.
I thought it was too hot, and I was there too long.
Somebody rescued me to the stove top, and put a gorgeous shiny blanket on me.
I felt a little stuffed, but it was a nice time. No one paid any attention to me.

Look at me!!
My goose bumped skin became shiny, crispy, and beautifully tanned.
I felt like a celebrity with everyone watching and talking about me.
I was proud of myself.

I’m in salty water with a garnished bouquet, and it’s a little too hot for me.
I hope my bones will be shiny and beautiful again.
It’s now very quiet around me.

Hey, I’m still here!
I’ll be shined again.

Ako is a member of the ESL Conversation Program Creative Writing Group

Welcome to Taloyoak, Nunavut








My name is Ronnie Napacheekadlak, I am from Taloyoak, Nunavut on the Boothia Peninsula.  Taloyak is a small isolated  community in the very far north.  It’s not a city, it has a small population of 900.

In the winter we go hunting for caribou (Tuqtu), fish, seals (netsiq) and other animals to help us eat through the winter.  Summers up there aren’t like summers in Vancouver, the days are way longer.  We have our own traditional Inuit games that are a lot harder than they sound.  Games like the kneel jump, the airplane, the mouth pull, and the knucklehop (which is my favourite).  To find out more about where I’m from check out this link: or check it out on Google maps by clicking here.  If you ever make it up north, here are some words you might find useful (borrowed from Quyanainni and enjoy:







How are you?

I’m fine, thanks. And you?



Long time no see


What’s your name?

My name is …


Uvanga …atira

Ujunga ….

Where are you from?

I’m from …



Pleased to meet you

Katigatkit Quvianaq



Tavvaujutit – to one person
Tavvaujusi – to many people

Have a nice day


I don’t understand


How do you say … in   Inuktitut?

…ni … qanuq uqauhiqaqpin?/uqausiqaqpit?

Excuse me


How much does it cost?

Una Qapsit/Qassit/Qatsit?


Iikuluk, Aittaaq, Nakujuq

Thank you


Quyanainni, Quana, Ma’na
Qujannamiik, Nakurmiik


Where’s the toilet?

Naung anarvik?

Would you like to
dance with me?




Happy Birthday


My hovercraft
is full of eels

Umiaryuap Publimaaqpaga tattaurniq ammayaq /
Umiarjuap Pullimmaqpaga tattaurniq nimiraq J

Drawn to Listen

by Laura

As a student new to UBC, and a wide-eyed new resident of Vancouver, I spent my first few months here seeking a way to feel connected to my new home. I came upon the Learning Exchange when I was first considering attending UBC and found it a very unique and beneficial feature of the university, in its direct engagement with an aspect of the surrounding community.

The location of the Exchange provides me with an opportunity to explore off-campus Vancouver and have a chance to engage with spectacular people I would otherwise not meet. Although I was unsure of my ability to contribute to this particular volunteer environment, the unbelievably supportive staff gave me the confidence to explore areas of volunteering which I would not have thought to previously pursue. Working alongside Pedro in the implementation of his drawing class at the Learning Exchange has provided me with countless unexpected understandings.

Pedro’s artistically driven perspective of the world is the foundation for his teaching, providing the students with a viewpoint they are then able to adopt and use in their learning. Through an emphasis on patience and commitment, Pedro has led his students to realize the artistic ability they possessed before the class even began. Guided by care and individual attention, I have had the chance of watching the students excel under Pedro’s gifted teaching.

Most of all, Pedro has created a space for the potential of art to initiate conversation. Although not artistically trained myself, I have the opportunity to simply listen at the Learning Exchange. The stories and comments invoked by the student’s artistic experience have provided me with a feeling of belonging and attachment to the individuals, the Learning Exchange, and even greater, the city of Vancouver. I have been able to watch this cooperative learning environment, under Pedro’s vision, give students the confidence and understanding to turn hesitation to artistic courage, as well as find that sort of courage in myself.

Laura is a 2nd Year, UBC Anthropology/African Studies student who volunteered to help with the introductory drawing workshop.

Up On the Rooftop

by Janice

Janice leads the ESL creative writing group.


by Soudy

Indigence and poverty, famine and drought, starvation and dryness help each other and ruin a land and its nations.

In this famished land that has fallen in to oblivion, there is no amorous look from the sky. Even so the cloud looks at them cold and lifeless as a marble. The sun burns the skin of the ground of land. The earth feels the sun’s searing hand on its head. It is panting with parched lips.

In this scorched land, the withered bushes, the barren desert and the drought like fruits are showing off. This unkind treat is beyond the earth’s power. When the tears ran down from field keeper’s eyes the thirsty land absorbs the tears immediately.

The clean hearted and pure natured people open a door towards an illusion. They array themselves in the colourful clothes with an attractive sight, to pray for the down pour of blessings, while their eyes inflamed with tears. Their endurance is admirable.

The kids show great patience for demanding the justice of nature. The afflicted kids with tearful eyes recite a song because of the land’s strong craving for the water. Perhaps, the sky hears their voice and sincere wishes, and grants their request, and then their hope will be fulfilled.

They want to feel the drizzle, the fresh and green air, they want to enjoy fruition. They need to refresh themselves by drinking and overcome the dryness.
They deliver a message for the sky, please: fill the dried up river, revive the desiccated leaves on the trees, and let the ground drink in fullness.

But there is no benevolence from the sky; the sky gives its blue color to the children’s chalk board, not water to the land……….

Soudy is a member of the ESL creative writing group.

Captured in Colour

by Janice

Janice leads the ESL creative writing group.

Bella on Four Months at 612 Main Street

Bella with alumni facilitators from the English and computer programs

Why were you interested in working at the Learning Exchange?

I was interested when I saw that the job posting said I would be working closely with Downtown Eastside community members. I’d worked in the DTES before and met a lot of cool people, so I was excited to be working in the community again but this time in a different kind of environment (a ‘learning environment’ where you get to know people better as opposed to a soup kitchen where you volunteer to serve but don’t have the opportunity to see the same people again and again).

What did you do?

I basically helped out wherever I was needed, and that formed a routine of sorts. I helped out with Computer Workshops and in the afternoons when people would come to use the computers. I facilitated ESL conversation workshops, helped students out with the activities they were running, and assisted at the reception desk.

What was the highlight of your time here?

I really enjoyed working with and getting to know patrons, so basically my entire stay at the Learning Exchange was a highlight! I loved facilitating the short stories ESL workshop, I loved working as a team to develop the garden plot, I loved hanging around at the Drop-In and chatting with everyone like we were all hanging out in a giant living room. It was great.

What did you learn?

If I had to make a list of everything I’ve learned, I’d fill five pages. Here’s the short version: I learned that not everyone knows how to turn on a computer (a skill I’ve taken for granted), I learned how to help people learn for themselves as opposed to telling them exactly what to do, I learned that no one is ever ‘too old’ to learn (I found out that one of the ESL learners I’d been working with is 79 years old!).

What surprised you?

I’m surprised at how many people I got to work with. At any other workplace, I would have gotten to know ten or maybe fifteen new people. At the Learning Exchange, I can safely say that I’ve gotten incredibly fond of about fifty people, and I’ve learned something from every one of those people.

What advice would you give to student volunteers about community placements?

I would definitely recommend it, even if you don’t think you’d be ‘good at it’ or comfortable in that position. Experiences that you’re unsure of always end up being the best learning experiences and make a bigger impact on your life.

What will you do next?

I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I would love to work in the DTES community again in the future. In the meantime, I’ll probably be visiting the Learning Exchange often to help out with the garden or to just sit down and chat with everyone at the Drop-In 🙂

Bella was a UBC Arts Co-op student at the Learning Exchange from January to April 2012 and worked with many activities for community members and students.