It’s hard for me to distinguish among the many traumatic events that I experienced in grad school which was the most traumatic. But thus far, it was probably the interaction I had with the professor in my seminar class. In the middle of one particular class, I had an emotional flashback so overwhelming that I left the room and didn’t return until class was over. I didn’t feel safe returning, and I felt deeply ashamed of being so emotional in front of my classmates. On my way out of the building, I saw my professor and knew he wasn’t going to allow me to simply go on my way, which I desperately wanted. He walked up to me and started demanding answers about what happened to me, answers he wasn’t prepared to receive. My response was this, “I can’t talk about this right now. I just calmed down.” He totally ignored my request and continued questioning me, pushing his agenda which had nothing to do with my well-being. When he was done talking, he instructed me to thank my classmate for collecting my belongings and turned on his heel and walked away.
What I wish my friends and family knew about my PhD. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to start with the previously hyperlinked article. The title is self-explanatory, and I’ll leave it at that. As I was read it myself, it reminded me that I’ve been wanting to write something about this for some time now. As far as I’m concerned, Kate Samardzic got it exactly right.
To give you some idea of what this pursuit has been like for me, within the past couple of weeks I came to realize that this past year was the hardest I’ve had since I went through cancer treatment nearly fifteen years ago. And to be entirely honest, cancer treatment was significantly less traumatic – or at least what I remember of that painful time. To be clear, it’s not the content of my PhD program that is so challenging. It’s negotiating the expectations I have for myself, trying to navigate the emotional side of an extremely competitive environment, as well as a situation populated by highly intelligent people many of whom do not have my best interest at heart. Or, if they do, their idea of supporting me is unequivocally wrong regardless of how well intentioned they may be.
I’m especially interested in access to online resources. And the first activity for this section is the article we were asked to read and annotate called Digital redlining, access, and privacy by Chris Gillard. The point the article makes about not all schools having access to the same online resource materials seems bizarre within the context of high education, as I mention in my annotation below. Isn’t that the point, to allow exploration? I also had a few thoughts about my time at Divine Word College.
Next we read Please Keep Your American Flags Off My Hijab by Hoda Katebi. Just a few sentences into this I knew where it was going. Not everyone sees the flag as a symbol of hope and freedom. It is also a symbol of hate and war, especially if you are on the receiving end of many of our political actions in certain parts of the world. As an American that is hard to write. The American flag is hardly the pure expression many U.S. citizens assume it is. It holds as much, if not more, negativity than the freedom we see it symbolizing. I would feel better about addressing this if the current administration wasn’t steeped in violence, hate and psychopathologic dysfunction. I’m not sure if we can come back from it.
I feel slightly better reading the Paul Gorski article called Imagining Equity Literacy. I have lived abroad so have learned through concentrated effort about the culture that some of my students come from. Having just said that, the next line I read in the article says this: I wonder whether we have become so focused on culture in education that we have failed to address inequities like heterosexism, ableism or racism sufficiently. Yes, I need to do better here.
At this point I’m feeling overwhelmed. I feel like I’m falling short in all areas in my pursuit to bring more equity into my actions and how I interact with the world. While I am expanding my understanding of equity, it’s still deeply emotional and in that sense draining. There is research out there encouraging self-care for people doing social justice work. I’ll have to look into it.
To be honest, I have limited time, and even though I would like to take a break, I’m pushing through it. I’ve chosen to look next at The urgency of intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw. I’ve heard the word intersectionality quite a bit lately. Based on what seems like common sense, I can make some assumption about what it means. But I didn’t know explicitly, and I wanted a better understanding.
This was a lot to process. I wish I had time to spread it out some over the two week period of this section of the class. Time made that difficult though. There were a couple of other videos in this week’s block, but I’ve reached my limit for the time being. Even though I only saw a couple of seconds, the videos of assault in the Kimberlé Crenshaw video were too much. The rest of the day I will work on self-care. Here is a helpful article I found on taking care of ourselves Self-Care for Warriors of Social Justice. by Katie McBeth in case anyone else is feeling like I am.
I am leaving in exactly two hours to drive to the airport and board a plane for Hawaii. I’m giving my first official presentation on my research. The conference is called the 8th Conference on Social Justice in Education. I write about my research work extensively in this blog, if you’re interested. In the meantime, I’d like to describe my experience with Weeks 3-4: Empathy and Bias of the Equity Unbound class.
This week in Equity Unbound, we are looking at the “open web for the vulnerable.” One of the activities was a Twitter scavenger hunt. We were asked to tweet a mystery object and respond to someone else who posted an object.
Here’s where the fun starts. When I’m online I often run across some incredibly progressive and inspiring teaching tools and resources, usually through the people I follow on Twitter. (This most often happens when I’m supposed to be doing homework or cleaning my house. Like exactly what is happening this very minute.) Regardless, I intended to take a second class this semester, or to find a research assistantship but nothing materialized for me. What I have found though, is an open source class called Equity Unbound which describes itself as, “an emergent, collaborative curriculum which aims to create equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences across classes, countries and contexts on equity.” I’m grateful I ran across this class and finding it couldn’t be more precisely timed. I honestly miss the pragmatic application of what I learn, like the work I did in my master’s programs. Research is a different animal entirely. I enjoy it immensely but not in the same way. I’ll be participating in this class from here on out and posting on my assignments and reflections of what I’m learning.
It’s August and now is the time for me to recover from stats class and get a few projects done before school starts in a few weeks. That means I’ll share the last section of my literature review. In the meantime, you can save the date on your calendar – in case any of you want drop by Hawaii – to see me speak at the 8th International Conference on Education and Social Justice in Honolulu.
This lit review should now be published on Open Praxis! (It’s not though, but it should be soon. Keep your eyes open for it.) It’s my first published journal article, so it’s very exciting. You can read my blog posts which are an earlier version of the article or the much-refined version all in one place here Vol 10, No 3 (2018) — just kidding, it’s not on their site yet.
This post is the third and last section that I’ve published on my blog and is part of the earliest version of this lit review that I submitted for my class. It took a few turns along the way and is a different paper now than what I started with. In Part I I began with an introduction to education for refugees. In Part II I addressed the importance and benefits of this much neglected aspect of refugee life. Here I discuss online learning and the programs that are the forerunners of this spectacularly innovative way to address education for refugees.