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The Secret Lives of SUS

Yet while the staff of SUS wandered mild-mannered about the campus and the office this year busy doing their good works on behalf of the student body, little did we know that each of them had their own surprising secrets outside campus life. So now, let us take a look at our past year’s VP social, VP academic, VP finance, rep-at-large, communications administrator and SUS president and their fascinating lives.

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By Jennifer Colbourne (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: April 4, 2012

This has been a great year at UFV, and we have our friends at SUS partly to thank for that. Yet while the staff of SUS wandered mild-mannered about the campus and the office this year busy doing their good works on behalf of the student body, little did we know that each of them had their own surprising secrets outside campus life. So now, let us take a look at our past year’s VP social, VP academic, VP finance, rep-at-large, communications administrator and SUS president and their fascinating lives. A hearty congratulations goes out to Sam Broadfoot, Ryan Petersen, and Carlos Vidal on their re-election who will, along with Jhim Burwell, be back with SUS next year, and the best of luck to Wyatt Scott and Kate Nickelchok in their future endeavours at UFV.

Carlos Vidal

By day: President of SUS
By night: Viral YouTube sensation 

Thanks to YouTube, Carlos Vidal is a star in Hong Kong. It all began when he created his CarlosDouh video series, where he humorously defines Cantonese words and phrases with his catchphrase slogan “Hear it. Speak it. Memorize it” along with other videos to do with Chinese culture, such as his “Cooking with Carlos” series. Full of fun and attitude, the videos are a mix of both Asian and Western film styles, and appeal to both English and Cantonese speaking audiences.

While Vidal is obviously not Chinese, he learned to speak Cantonese fluently when he lived in Hong Kong for a few years after high school. An avid YouTube surfer and videographer, he decided to make funny and unique videos and start up his own channel. After a few videos, his viewership started to go viral, and Vidal soon became a YouTube partner, which allowed him to start making advertising revenue.

His username “CarlosDouh”—“Douh” being the Romanization of his surname, given to him by his first Cantonese teacher—soon became iconic in China and elsewhere. He has been able to meet and film videos with Chinese pop stars MC Jin and Gem Tang, has performed at the River Rock Casino with Hong Kong TV stars, and has been flown to Hong Kong for a Cathay Pacific Airways event. He has done radio shows as well as TV interviews, has had numerous articles written on him worldwide, and has been a spokesperson for Coke in Hong Kong, as well as for other companies online.

So far, Vidal has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being a YouTube star. Vidal often gets stopped by fans when in Hong Kong, and even Richmond, BC. In fact, once when in Richmond, Vidal passed a guy talking on his phone who, upon seeing Vidal, immediately hung up, ran up to him and asked excitedly, “Hey! Are you Carlos from YouTube!? Can I get a photo with you?” When recognized, Vidal always stops to chat with his supporters; he loves interacting with his fans of all ages—from kids, teens and college students to parents—and often gives out free CarlosDouh swag from his online store.

Of course, it is difficult for Vidal to keep up with the workload of editing movies and coming up with ideas, especially while he is in school. As soon as the winter semester ends, he plans to get back on track with a ton of ideas, each intended to be better than the last, with even more new and creative video effects. Vidal also plans to come out with more merchandise based on phrases from his videos. For the future, CarlosDouh is here to stay; says Vidal: “So long as fans keep enjoying the videos and wanting to learn more Cantonese slang, I’ll always be willing to keep them happy!”

Jhim Burwell

By day: SUS communications administrator
By night: Liberal Party of Canada candidate

Jhim Burwell was born in a red diaper: as a baby, he played with Justin Trudeau and at the age of two he was used as the strategically-placed toddler for candidates to come kiss and pose with. His family has a long history of involvement in the Liberal Party of Canada, with a great relative as a speaker of the house, and Burwell’s own father as one of Trudeau’s “go-to guys” in the Niagara area. Around age 11 or 12, just after his father passed away, Burwell joined the Young Liberals, and remembers riding around in the back of a truck putting up campaign signs with Liberal MP Gilbert “Gib” Parent, later speaker of the house, Parent in dungarees with his ball cap on backwards.

Parent would remain influential in Burwell’s life, and Burwell turned to him for advice when he decided to run for MP. In 2006, being a resident of Fernie at the time, Burwell ran for Kootenay-Columbia, an electoral district that consistently votes Conservative. With nobody else coming forward as Liberal candidate that year, Burwell felt compelled to step forward, disliking the use of parachute candidates. Though he lost the election, he still received 5443 of the votes (13.34 per cent), placing third. The next year, his wife, an RCMP constable, was transferred and Burwell and his family moved to the Fraser Valley, where Burwell continued his work as a freelance journalist, until later in 2007 when he took his current job for UFV’s SUS.

Despite having such a strong Liberal upbringing, Jhim Burwell still questioned his family’s political affiliation, and did an in-depth amount of research before deciding himself to join the Federal Liberals. Burwell is what he terms a “Paul Martin Liberal,” and stands strongly behind the ideas of the social safety net—providing cultural resources, the arts, social security, health care—and fiscal responsibility. He is also very concerned about regional isolation, a problem that became particularly troubling for Burwell after he moved out West and saw for himself how isolated the West really was from the centre provinces.

When running in Kootenay-Columbia, Burwell also spoke out strongly against the Bountiful polygamist settlement, supporting federal intervention – unlike the Conservative incumbent. Such an outspoken stance may have earned him having his vehicle’s tires slashed while speaking in Creston; fortunately, he discovered this before driving his wife and five-month-old son out on the treacherous highway. Luckily, the Green Party candidate came and lent Burwell a hand.

At the moment, Burwell has stepped back from running again as a Liberal candidate due to its time consuming nature, focusing instead on his volunteer firefighting and his family. However, sometime in the next few years, he plans to rejoin the riding association and eventually, once his kids are in high school, he plans to run again – for Jhim Burwell is determined that one day he will sit in the House of Commons.

Kate Nickelchok 

By day: VP academic
By night: Indian soap opera star

This past summer, Kate Nickelchok was an intern for the National Council of Rural Institutes, a department of the Indian government that looks at alternative forms of rural education based on Gandhian philosophy. Nickelchok gathered information about livelihood patterns and education styles in isolated, rural areas of India, mostly in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and R?jasth?n.

Having spent all of her time so far out in the remote countryside, Nickelchok decided to check out city life in Mumbai for her 22nd birthday. As she was heading for India Gate, a national monument and popular tourist destination, Nickelchok was stopped by a talent agent who asked her if she wanted to be in a TV show. Apparently, it is common for blond, Western looking tourists to get picked up by agents to do TV extra work. Hesitant, as she was only in Mumbai for one day, Nickelchok took his card and went to check out a few more tourist sites. Unable to give up such a unique opportunity, she soon hopped in a rickshaw along with some friends from Germany and, one hour long drive later, they arrived at the studio.

Technically, it is illegal for tourists to do extra work and are commonly paid under the table (though, in fact, Nickelchok actually had a worker’s visa); and so, she and her friends were tucked away and told to tell anyone who asked that they were just there to meet the stars. Originally, she and her friends were to be in the background of a party scene. However, after some debate, it was decided to put them in a bedroom scene, with the three girls lounging sensuously in bed with a businessman who is busily in discussion with another man on the phone.

Nickelchok was very hesitant about doing such a scene, as it perpetuated some of the very negative stereotypes of Western women that she had been trying to overcome herself as a woman traveling alone. Though it made her somewhat uncomfortable, Nickelchok couldn’t resist such a once in a lifetime opportunity. As this particular television series, called Bade Achhe Lagte Hain, is one of the most popular primetime dramas in India, Nickelchok soon found herself inundated with e-mails from friends she had made in India who couldn’t believe she was actually able to be on the show.

Though overall she enjoyed the experience, what was really important to Nickelchok was the work she did in rural India, not Bollywood. Her trip only increased Nickelchok’s passion for education and social justice, a passion continued on this year with her work at SUS. One day, she hopes to return to Udaipur in Rajasthan to carry on her work for India’s Adivasi (indigenous) Rights groups.

Sam Broadfoot

By day: VP finance
By night: Brony

When Sam Broadfoot’s friend Bob told him to check out My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Broadfoot was skeptical. It took a few months, but finally in early November Broadfoot sat down and watched the first episode. He couldn’t stop. That night and into the next morning, Broadfoot watched the entire first season. From that moment on, Broadfoot was a Brony (a male fan of My Little Pony).

What Broadfoot appreciates most about the show is its family appeal. He compares it to Disney’s Aladdin and The Lion King, which are designed to appeal to both adults and kids and bring the entire family together. Rather than treat kids like complete idiots, it uses clean and wholesome humour to honestly explore relevant life issues. Nor is it just for little girls – unlike the original series which, despite Broadfoot’s best efforts, he cannot stand. The newer My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series is meant to appeal to all ages and both sexes.

Broadfoot also appreciates the show’s high quality. The animation, developed by the same animator who worked on The Powerpuff Girls, is top notch, he feels; as for the music, he praises how very well it consistently ties into the show. Even when Broadfoot feels an episode is somewhat poor, it is always well-executed.

Broadfoot’s favourite pony, of whom he even has a plushie, is undoubtedly Twilight Sparkle. A bookish and introverted pony, Broadfoot can’t help but identify with her. Not only does she love books—even sleeping in a library—but she is also organized, a little OCD and a know-it-all. Though initially blunt and not very likable, Twilight Sparkle grows throughout the series as she discovers the fun power of friendship. Broadfoot loves that while Twilight Sparkle has many strong points, she’s still realistically flawed as well.

Though Broadfoot loves My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, he doesn’t consider himself one of the hard-core, uber-fans of the online community. He does follow internet Brony fan creations, though, especially songs; Broadfoot has also been known to draw a pony or two, which has been a fun outlet for his artistic abilities. Most recently (see the last issue of The Cascade), Sam Broadfoot hosted the Winter Wrap Up Meet Up event; based on the “Winter Wrap Up” episode where the ponies clean up winter in Equestria in order to bring in springtime, it was held on the last day of winter, March 19. Broadfoot and other UFV Bronies had a blast watching episodes of the show, decorating cupcakes and talking ponies.

Will Sam Broadfoot start an official UFV Brony club? Perhaps, says Broadfoot, depending on whether or not a number of people start showing interest. However, it remains without a doubt that more Brony events on campus are on the horizon.

Wyatt Scott

By day: VP social
By night: World champion magician

From a young age, Wyatt Scott performed magic. Starting with a little magic kit at age seven, by age 12 he was doing his first magic shows in the neighbourhood (at 25 cents per kid) and began performing for birthday parties at age 14. When Scott was 18, he received a call from a pub that asked him to come perform card tricks for $100 per hour.

Soon after, Scott purchased his first illusion, found an assistant and built his first comedy-magic show, eventually buying a truck and a trailer and founding, along with two others, the company Great Scott Illusions. Nervous at first, in his early twenties he began competing worldwide, and with perseverance started to place; in 2006, he won the international championship in Portland, Oregon, and would go on to win several more awards.

Though primarily doing shows in Western Canada, Scott performed all over, in places such as Washington, Idaho and California. As his popularity and reputation grew, Scott also became a teacher with up to 70 full time students, including Scott Ward, the hypnotist who performed at UFV in March.

Some of Scott’s favourite illusions were: the Kubzag, a newer variation of the cutting-the-assistant-in-half routine; the Blamo Box, in which his assistant would appear into a tiny, previously empty box; and the Metamorphis Trunk, where he was locked in handcuffs, put in a bag and padlocked into a trunk – the assistant would then stand on the box and in 1/3 of a second they would switch places (they were about the third or fourth fastest at this in the world). Such tricks featured in his famous championship-winning Pink Panther routine, a pink-oriented show (including a pink suit) in which the music progressed from classic, jazzy, Pink Panther music, to a more modern techno version.

So what is such a successful magician doing at UFV? While Scott has never given up magic completely, he has finished with doing large illusion shows. Unfortunately, the hundreds of hours of rehearsals, large staff, high cost and the recession killing off people’s disposable income proved too much.  Now, Scott is  more picky and choosy about where and when he performs – though he has happily done a few shows here at the school. Currently, he is working on another degree at UFV (his first being in Culinary Arts in Alberta), where he can be near his family.

Ryan Petersen

By day: Rep-at-large
By night: Nudist camp worker

In a beautiful secluded area by the river lies the Shadow Falls Campground, a “clothing optional” gay and lesbian campground in Harrison Mills. In the summer of 2008, Ryan Petersen was employed at the small, private campground, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed. The scenery, including a number of waterfalls, was gorgeous, and the campers were always nice and friendly, as were his bosses. Among nature at its most stunning, and in such a pleasant environment, Petersen had an ideal summer job.

Initially, the nudity made Petersen a bit uncomfortable. It’s not that Petersen is a prude by a long shot, often going nude around his friends, but it was a bit disconcerting at first to be constantly surrounded by naked people. Petersen never went naked at the actual camp—mostly just wearing his boxers—as he found it a little strange to be nude as an employee in a professional environment. Neither of his bosses chose to go nude, either, though sometimes his co-worker would work in the buff. Petersen is pretty sure, though, that if he worked there again he’d just go naked.

Working at Shadow Falls changed Petersen’s attitude towards nudity. The campers were just there to unwind, have fun, get away from the city and be one with nature – and what better way to be one with nature, than relaxing the way nature made you? Though not all the campers went naked, those who did sincerely enjoyed the freedom.

Most of the campers were gay men—Petersen only saw a few lesbian couples—though it wasn’t unusual for straight friends to be brought along too. Petersen found it was a great experience getting in touch with the older gay community – these men having faced so many hardships earlier in their lives. The cultural environment was very unique, Petersen found, and radically different from the mainstream, typical media presentation of the homosexual community. All in all, Petersen found the experience refreshing.

Ryan Petersen has never forgotten his summer at Shadow Falls, and would definitely consider working there again – currently, though, he spends his summers up with his family in Oliver and does maintenance work for the Dominion Radio Astrophysics Observatory in nearby Kaleden. In the meantime, he would love to go back to the campground for a weekend and reconnect with all of the great friends he made – and most likely, he will do so in the nude.

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  1. Pingback: The Secret Lives of SUS (Bollywood Superstar) | What Katie Did Next

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