I was interested in the Social Justice in Education Programme at Lancaster University because I felt there was a huge disconnect between the education I had received and the reality of classroom life for both students and teachers. I applied for my Ph.D. while teaching in the Canadian High Arctic and preparing to move to the UK. At the beginning of my studies I was located temporarily in Newfoundland, my home province, waiting for my UK visa to be issued. Upon arriving in the UK, I began working with secondary school students while continuing my studies. My students were classified as being high-risk, meaning that they were at risk of not completing their secondary school education. The reasons for these students being labelled as high-risk varied and included medical diagnosis, behavioural challenges, substance abuse and violence. I realised quickly that my Ph.D. programme would be a powerful tool in my teaching career. The disconnect I felt between teacher education and the reality of ‘doing’ education was no longer there. I was able to implement what I was learning at Lancaster in my classroom.
Sadly, my UK visa expired and I couldn’t renew it. I then moved to Switzerland, where I worked with young EAL learners. My experience in Switzerland inspired my main Ph.D. project and thesis. Living and working in Switzerland gave me access to a larger group of English as an Additional Language (EAL) children for my research project than was available to me in the UK. Living and working in a non-English speaking society added further validity to my work. Because the children were not in an English-speaking environment, their progress could be measured more accurately. My supervisor, Jo Warin, was instrumental during this time. She offered encouragement and guidance throughout my research and gave me valuable advice about conducting research, ethics when researching young children, methodologies, etc.
After my Swiss visa expired last summer, I was off to Turkey to apply for my Chinese visa. My husband is Turkish so I avoided having to go back to Canada to apply, saving myself a LOT of money. I spent 5 1\2 months working on my thesis and reflecting on what social justice really means beyond an educational context.
Finally, I arrived in Xi’an, China, where my only worry was my viva. I had my viva on May 25, 2017 and it went smoothly. Everyone involved made the experience comfortable and actually enjoyable!
Throughout my travels, the module conveners, Jo Warin and the entire staff of the Department of Educational Research, were phenomenal. The support that is offered for students is wonderful. When I was moving from country to country, the staff worked around my schedule to make sure that I was able to stay on track with my studies and also have the adventurous life I wanted. I was able to finish my programme on time! I feel that because of the knowledge I’ve gained from the programme and my travels, I am a better educator and researcher.