For my 29th birthday I made a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. It includes everything from learning to drive here to cooking an exotic meal.
This week I got to cross one off the list. Number two on the list: Present at an academic conference has now been completed. I will be able to cross this one off the list for a second time in June (and fingers crossed a third time in December). I got to peddle my wares at the first annual School of Life, Sport, and Social Science Postgraduate Research Conference. I am the only educational pedagogic theorist in the school, and I like to toot my own horn over that. The conference was a chance to get my feet wet, and a chance to master the Pecha Kutcha style of presenting.
After a few weeks of stressing I was able to present my 20 slides with just 20 seconds a slide. I’m properly chuffed with myself about that. I was really stressing over the format, but by the time I stepped on the stage, I forgot about being nervous and just talked to the crowd for 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I was even asked some really great questions, and the programme leader for a programme I am working with emailed me to tell me that he enjoyed my talk. One of my supervisors was able to make it, and my desk mate and friend came to support me as well. I forgot to have him record it or take pictures, but all in all, I think the day was a success.
Not bad for knocking the first one off the list. I am in the process of doing a few more of these, so it is only a matter of time before I can cross some more off the list.
- Learn how to drive in the UK.
Present at an academic conference
- Start a new tradition
- Go back to therapy
- Visit three new countries
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Quit the tutoring centre
- Volunteer for a literacy programme
- Read a book that has more than 500 pages
- Make my bed everyday for at least three months
- Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
- Master scorpion pose
- Attend the symphony
- Learn a rap song from start to finish
- Host a dinner party
- Create a budget so I can pay down my student loans
- Create something original
- Create a solid workout regime
- Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
- Learn to dance
- Eat an exotic meal
- Learn to cook a fancy meal
- Yell at a football match
- Go horseback riding
- Master British spelling and punctuation
- Create a good sleep schedule
- See my favorite group in concert
- Fall in love
- Stop holding grudges
- Let go of my expectations
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Week 13 of the year is dedicated to someone I admire. While there are many people that I admire, I’m choosing to focus this moment on Malala Yousafzai. While procrastinating on my conference presentation, I came across the documentary He Named Me Malala. In 2009, at 12 years old, she wrote a blog for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule. When the world took notice of yet another injustice that of this region, Malala rose in fame by giving interviews and becoming the face and the voice for women in the region would wanted education. In 2012 she was shot three times while on the bus to school. Even while in the hospital recovering, she continued to speak out for women, and continued to speak out for the importance of education. In 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and continues to build, and sometimes rebuild, schools for women, refugees, and those in a war-torn region.
“I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”
― Malala Yousafzai
I admire her courage and dedication. At 18 years old she has done more for the world than most people hope to do in a lifetime. She has faced death, doubters, and incredible adversary to continue to push for a cause that she believes in.
I only wish I could be half as courageous and make a fraction of a difference in the filed of education. When I had my chance to stand up for what I believed in two years ago, I caved, and let it break me. I had the chance to pursue the matter, and to let the university know what was going on in the programme, but instead, I chose to just bury it and get out of the United States as fast as I could. I’m still terrified that somehow that programme will catch up with me and it will hurt the work that I am doing in the UK (stupid I know, but I sometimes worry that the sins of my past will catch up to me).
And now that I have watched a young woman who did not let being shot in the face stop her from defending what she believes in, then I should not let a momentary blip in my educational journey stop me from pursing avenues that I think will improve the learning potential for students in higher education. The two things can hardly be compared, and I admire the way she treated it as nothing more than a reason to continue trying to make the world a better place for women.
Positivity is not my strong suit. I’m a glass half empty, bird shit on the face, permanent bad day kinda gal. It is something I am trying to work on it, but struggle a bit when life throws me some curve balls. At the end of this week I have my 6 month review and determination of title for my PhD. I have been feeling pretty great about the work I have been able to do so far, but I am still a little nervous about presenting it to my supervisors and my new external chair. I still have a little doctoral program PTSD, and I am in a constant worry that I am going to screw up my chances here the way I screwed up in Fullerton.
I am starting to feel the effects of the fear in a big way.
I was hired to be the first educational pedagogy PhD at the university. Along with the PhD, I was going to run a university wide project to help update and improve the assessment and feedback practices of the degree granting programs. I thought I would be able to pull data from the project to use for my own research, and be able to do both tasks in well balanced harmony. Long story short, I was told that someone more senior than me needed to be in charge of the project, but as the resident TESTA expert, I would have a role to play in the project, and be there to offer guidance and support. I have strong feelings for the project and what can be done with a fresh approach to feedback, but my ego is also healthy enough to not have to be “the leader”. I understand the underlying politics that go along with a university-wide project, and my position as someone who is not quite an employee, but not quite a member of staff in the Department of Learning and Teaching Enhancement (I know, I work for a department called DOLT….when I started 6 months ago was ASPEN, which I was way more fond of). Now that the project is underway, it has become more apparent than ever that I do not have a strong presence yet on campus.
I have been trying to walk the fine line between standing up for what I want to do, and playing the political game. I am so traumatized with what happened at CSUF that I have almost become a doormat. I’m not being treated fairly, and because I am not trying to rock the boat, I have not been speaking up. In a meeting today, when I was disrespected in a room full of important people at the university, I didn’t correct the insult. I’m so afraid to make waves, so afraid that I am going to repeat the mistakes of last year, that I am in serious danger of becoming a doormat. Finding the right balance is hard, and trying not to equate this program with the program from hell is even harder.
Luckily I have some amazing friends who let me talk out out my feelings, a manpanion who celebrated my victories with me, and a mommy who is not afraid to give me a gentle kick in the ass to get off the floor and stand up for myself. I’m really the luckiest girl in the world. It is nice to be reminded of that when I am trying to stay out of the dark and twisty.
Week 25 is all about education.
Everyone who knows me knows that I put high stock in the value of an education. I’ve been in some form of school or another since I was 5 years old. Even when I wasn’t a student I was a teacher, and looking into PhD programs. Even when I got expelled it did nothing to taint my love for education. The thing is, I now understand the importance of the education that you cannot get in the classroom. The real world education I got from the program, from the people that I have met along the way, and from the massive amounts of therapy taught me as much, if not more than all of the classes I have sat in combined. I learned a lot about politics, about sticking up for what I believe in, and what it really means to be a citizen of the world. Week 24 of this challenge will also give some insight into the way that education has turned me into the sparkling gem that I am today, but what I am really grateful for is everything I learn about myself and others while I travel, research, and have the chance to interact with others.
Week 26 is an important one. Week 26 is a person that I have had the pleasure of meeting. There are a lot of people that I have been able to meet and interact with, but right now, the one I am most grateful for has not even been born yet.
That’s right. This Scamp is about to be an aunt! The wombmate is pregnant with her first child.
World, meet little Gizmo
That’s right, I have named my future niece or nephew (I’m hoping nephew) Gizmo, although the sister is strongly objecting to that, so I call him Gizzy. Now, while looking at the inside of my sister’s uterus is not what I would call a good day, being able to see this little guy (or girl) and the little tiny heart is truly one of the coolest things that I have ever seen. I cannot wait for February. Despite all the anger and stress of the visa issues, the research questions that still need to be written, and the ethics application that is in its second round of editing, I am excited that I will soon be able to impart my wisdom and sass on the next generation of Rodriguez children. I am already making a list of noisy toys that need to be purchased, of Scottish themed clothes and toys that need to make it to the States, and a playlist of the best songs of the last few generations to be played. While most of this education will have to be done through Skype, when the kids is old enough, I am going to start insisting that it spend the summers in Scotland with me. Lord knows that someone is going to have to teach the kid how to eat right, how to dress with some spunk, and how to think of a witty comeback on the spot. Plus, the kid needs to learn about the great wide world, and who better to show him (or her) that than the perpetual Scamp?
Today was the first day of my Ed.D program….I know, who wants to start school on a Saturday? I dragged my tired butt to CSUF at 8:30 this morning and got to spend the day learning how to write. I learned what a topic sentence was, how to properly use examples and evidence in my work, and what it means to write a “scholarly” piece of work. I got a lecture on how to pick the appropriate loan, and why it is important to use APA citations in my work to demonstrate my brilliance. I will now be reevaluating my teaching style and classroom activities…..since many of my lectures and activities are similar to the ones I did today, and since I wanted to gnaw my own leg off during some of the lectures, I am sure my kids want to do the same when I am in the front of the room.
As long as the day was though, it was nice to have this as a trial run for getting back into the swing of being in the classroom. While it has only been a few months since I was in the classroom, the last couple of weeks have really pulled my focus from my research and from the academic mindset. I also got some very useful tips on writing a literature review, and since that is what I am about to start making an outline for, I feel that I will be better equipped for writing that section. I have a homework assignment to do that will force me to write in a scholarly manner, and I am hoping that that little bit of writing will help me get back into the swing of my dissertation. The children’s literature has been sorely neglected for the last few days.
There is another reason that I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of school though. Lately with all of the late nights, and constant socializing with family and friends I have found myself slipping back into my old negative ways. I’m stressed, and with that has come a hostile attitude that is causing me to flip a shit in public. In the last two weeks I have been in two altercations, one of which I shoved a woman into a chair at a baseball game because she was being bitchy and wouldn’t get out of my way. I haven’t gotten arrested yet, but I do feel like I should not be allowed in public (or at least around drunk people) for a little while if I want that record to stay untarnished. I have been home long enough now that I can no longer use the “I just got back to the US” excuse to justify why I haven’t gotten anything done, or why I would rather sleep in the sun instead of sit at my desk and read articles.
Seeing as I sat in a classroom and had a lot of info thrown at me today, I think I will start the “good student” routine tomorrow.