17 days into the new year and I already get to cross one off the list from last year. This year has already started off a bit bumpy on a personal level, but on the professional level, you are now looking at the newest member of the Assessment and Feedback Working Group for the University of Glasgow. That’s right, after 2 years of begging, your girl is now on an academic committee! This is my chance to really help shape university policy and hopefully do some good on campus. I’ve spent my first week back running sessions for the different colleges to help them with their most pressing assessment and feedback concerns, and if I have learned anything from these sessions, it is that sometimes university policy, student and staff expectations, and reality do not match. I’ve never been more frustrated than when I am sat in a meeting and people are asking for help that I just cannot provide. Being a part of the working group will allow me a chance to have a better understanding of the policies, as well as help people who are way above my pay grade understand the needs of the students.
Then I will take over the world.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep a low profile on social media and stay relatively silent about politics and all that is going on in the world. I’ve never been too vocal on social media about my beliefs anyway, although that is more to do with the fact that I like to remain somewhat of a mystery. That being said, something happened at the start of the month that, 1. I never thought I was see, and 2. has pushed me over the breaking point of the things that have been happening in the US. The Wikipedia summary of the events can be read here:
The storming of the United States Capitol was a riot and violent attack against the United States Congress on January 6, 2021, carried out by a mob of supporters of U.S. PresidentDonald Trump in an attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. After attending a Trump rally, thousands of his supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was beginning the Electoral College vote count. Many of the crowd breached police perimeters and stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the formalization of President-electJoe Biden‘s election victory. These rioters occupied, vandalized, and looted parts of the building for several hours. The riot led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol, and five deaths.
Things have been really bad in the US for a long time, but this was a whole new level of bad. I have friends who live in DC and friends who live close enough to DC that I was really worried. To add to the horrendous events, there were people in the mob wearing Camp Auschwitz sweatshirts, or shirts that read: 6MWNE (6 million was not enough). I don’t know how you feel, but personally, I don’t feel like anyone who has that sort of attitude can ‘Make America Great Again’….not to mention that I hardly buy the premise that you have to look to the past to make America great. That is a tangent for another day though. I posted an article about the anti-Semitic rhetoric that was prevalent among the ‘protesters’, and my Trump loving family decided that this was the perfect reason to condemn me for my beliefs. It started innocently enough. A comment by my mother about the people in a lot of the pictures being linked to terrorist or hate groups. My mother and I do not see eye to eye politically, but our exchange was calm, and respectful. A friend of mine also chimed in, and again, her comment was respectful.
Then the Wilders decided they needed to get involved. Long story short, they are right wing ultra conservative Qanon types (or right-sided as my cousin wrote) who don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, think the election was rigged, and think the FBI is not a valid and trustworthy source of information. While I know I should not have engaged, I did. I schooled my cousin in the difference between fact and fiction, and in doing so, was told that I was sanctimonious, over educated and must be a terrible teacher who will only have discussions with my students when they share (or I can force them to share) my beliefs. I was called an ignorant American as well. I was told to stay in Scotland, and that they were embarrassed for me. All of this on what they thought was my mom’s page, and in fact was about how horrible it is that people still want to kill all the Jews. I was embarrassed, and am still embarrassed that I am related to those people….and even more embarrassed that people saw the exchange and know how little those people actually think of me.
To be fair, I am not the least bit shocked by this. The Wilders used to have a favorite game when I was a kid….who could make Kim cry first. They used to pick on me and gang up on me until I cried….then belittle me for being upset. They once told my mom that my sister and I would spread our legs for any man that crossed our path because my mom chose to divorce an abusive alcoholic who did terrible things to her. This is the family that told me I was an ignorant American when I called out horrendous behavior on a train in Belgium. This is the family that made me want to get adopted out of it since I was seven years old. I know that it shouldn’t bother me what a bunch of people who know nothing about me think of me, but the fact that they attacked me on my own personal social media after not talking to me for years to defend a horrible incident has really left my shackles up.
It also triggered some long repressed feelings of being expelled from a PhD programme because I would not change my beliefs to suit the wants of the director of the programme. I was so completely destroyed at that time in my life that it was hard for me to do anything. My mom had to make up errands for me to run to make sure I got out of bed. I thought my life and career were over before they had even begun. I thought I would never get back to Scotland. Now that a week or so has passed, I’ve really been able to think about the importance of family, and the fact that we get to chose our family. My immediate family is great, and the rest of my family is made up of some incredible people from all over the world. They called, messaged, and made sure that I knew that no one associated me with the people that I am embarrassed by.
This also means that I have the time to reflect on those things they said to me to make sure that I do not become a sanctimonious, overeducated snob who only listens to people who believe the things I believe. I hope that being part of this academic committee and running more of the workshops I am currently running with the colleges and my CPD events for staff and students that I can become a better listener and really not let me beliefs and my degrees get in the way of open dialogue and discussion.
Because let’s face it, the only BS I need in my life right now is beaches and sunscreen.
- Visit 3 new countries
- Present at an academic conference
- Solo author a paper
- Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
- Do yoga at least twice a week
- Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
- Make a dent in my student loan
- Finally get my UK driving license
- Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays
- Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Go camping
Celebrate passing my viva
- Improve my Spanish proficiency
- Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
Get on an academic committee
- Officially change my name on all my documents without crying (I have two left, my US driving license and my visa)
- Go a full 48 hours without being negative
- Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
- Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)