Royal Roads students explore Gabriola culture

November 21, 2011
Gabriola Sounder News

Sixteen students enrolled in Royal Roads University's MA in Intercultural and International Communication program visited Gabriola Island Nov. 13-16. Accompanied by professors Zanne Cameron and Gabriola resident Phillip Vannini, the students spent their time learning about the culture of our island and how the community deals with development and social change.

During their short stay the students had the opportunity to meet many islanders - some in their official roles and others as part of their day-to-day routines and activities. This gave the students a brief, but insightful look into the ties that bind our community. "Culture is a way of life," Vannini reminded them. "It's simply what people do together."

Armed with their working definition of culture the students set out on an engaging reflexive assignment: to compose a "postcard" comprised of a photograph and a 300-400 word written note on their impression of what it is like to live on Gabriola. Intended as a pure fragment of their experiences, the postcards aim to portray the students' personal glimpses into island life, without pretensions of wholeness or objective accuracy.

Each of the 16 students chose a different action for their postcard. From "what it is like to connect on Gabriola" to what it's to like to "move," "grow," "heal," "perform" and "hope," each postcard details life on the island as observed and experienced by the students, almost all of whom just visited Gabriola for the first time, many from outside of B.C.

Written with a remarkable sense of detail and captured through exquisite prose, the postcards portray many familiar but often unexamined nooks and crannies of our island. From the enchanting allure of the Tunnel and its ritualistic pumpkin display to the rhythms of our roads; and from the aromas of fresh-baked Slow Rise goodies to the kind-hearted nature of some beloved islanders, the postcards remind us how fortunate we are to live in a place that often lives by its own rules.