Job Hunting in Japan as a “Non-native” WOC in ELT

Job Hunting

I defended my PhD and graduated in March, 2019. Such a stressful month. Why? Because my student visa was valid till April 2nd, 2019, and I had to change my visa status to be able to continue working in Japan (Application for Change of Status of Residence).

As a student in Japan you can work up to 28 hours a week. You need to apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted,” which is technically a work permit. The application process is pretty straightforward and you just need to fill out a form. That is why I could legally start working part-time at several universities and at an English conversation school (eikaiwa) in Kansai area from 2017.

I am planning to blog about my experiences as a PhD student in Applied Linguistics at Osaka University, Graduate School of Language and Culture. I preferred to write about my job-hunting experiences first because most of the tips I was given or found were not really helpful. I do not think many folx will find my blogpost helpful, but the thing is this blogpost is for few English teachers who have a similar situation like mine to see I could, so can they.

If you see it, you can be it!

First, I would like to start with two confessions:

  1. I have never been turned down for a job in Japan because I am labeled as a “non-native” speaker. I have applied for jobs via email and have never heard back. I have applied for jobs and was not hired, but I have never been told that it is because I am a “non-native” speaker. Not in my face. Not yet.
  2. When I came to Japan, I was racially naive, unaware, and ignorant. For example, I thought white is a racial slur. I was a big fan of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” or mottoes like “We all belong to one human race” without critically thinking about them through a racial lens. So, I, as a WOC, maintained the status quo by being a white supremacy tool. Moreover, I used to overemphasize that I am not Arab, which I realized that it was a racist way to identify myself. Now, I am reading on race and I want to be an antiracist because as Ibram X. Kendi states, “You are either racist or antiracist. There is nothing in between.” I will blog about my racial awakening later. For now, I’d like to share another quote from How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

#WOCinELT

 

Finding ELT Positions in Japan

Networking

According to Johnson and Dillon (1996),

Connections (jinmyaku) are important in any culture but in many cases seem to be a necessity in Japan. The best positions are usually not advertised in journals or newspapers, rather they are acquired by word-of-mouth. Basically, the chances of getting a good job are directly proportional to the quality of your connections.

Paul Raine (2012) is also quite honest about finding university English teaching positions in Japan:

The most common and effective way of finding university English teaching positions in Japan is through the referrals of friends and acquaintances. Indeed, many universities never need to advertise positions, relying instead on a surprisingly close-knit network of their current employees, employees acquaintances, employee’s acquaintances’ friends and… you get the picture. If job searching for university English teaching positions in Japan could be summed up in three words, they would be: network, network, network.

Teaching English at Japanese universities is a very rewarding profession, and English teaching careers are available to those with the motivation and means to undertake the qualifications required. If you are a passionate educator with an inclination toward academic research, then teaching at Japanese universities will definitely provide you with a wealth of opportunities. But be prepared to change jobs frequently, and network extensively if you want to stay ahead of the game.

James McCrostie (2010) believes:

It is no longer enough to simply pay your JALT and JACET membership fees—you also have to get involved with meetings, conferences, editing journals and similar volunteer service. Getting involved also helps one to make connections. Knowing someone never hurts in the current atmosphere of brutal competition.

Something which is missing in these articles written by white male “native” speakers is the fact that the ELT network in Japan is either Japanese dominated or white, male, middle/upper class, “native” English speakers dominated, which makes the job hunting process for non-white, female, non-Japanese, working class “non-native” speakers very challenging.

You need to be Japanese or you need to have what Nelson Flores (2017) calls white qualifications to be able to connect and network. Moreover, networking gets really hard if you do not drink alcohol and are not part of the nominication—from nomu the verb for to drink and communication—culture here in Japan. You can read on nominication culture here.

If white “native” speakers are dealing with “brutal competition” in James McCrostie’s terms, non-white, non-Japanese, “non-native” English speakers are dealing with racism, and if you are a white “native” speaker and complain about racism in Japan, I highly recommend you to read this oldie but goodie: “racism” vs. racism

The sadder news is that lots of times the job ads even on portals like JREC-IN are for formality. The recruiters already know who they want to hire. To formalize the process, they advertise the position. Once I withdrew my job application because of this reason. I was approached by a participant at an ELT conference. They asked if I am interested in teaching part-time at their university. I said, yes. They then advertised the job position. They were so shocked why many folx were applying.

As I confessed, I was racially unaware when I came to Japan. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice on networking, this would be it:

1. Avoid predominantly white ELT organizations.

Why? 

They are not meant for you. You are constantly otherized, you have to deal with loads of microaggressions (euphemism for racism), and this can lead to racial trauma. Read on othering at http://conference.otheringandbelonging.org/

Exception

If a SIG or a group for Scholars/Teachers of Color exists within the organization (e.g., KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG), joining the organization to get involved in those spaces is not a bad idea.

2. Avoid predominantly Japanese ELT organizations.

Why?

Again, they are not meant for you. You still need to “fit in” and deal with loads of racism as racism is not just a white phenomenon.

3. Find networks that are meant for you.

Why?

Because you do not need to “fit in”. Fitting in is not belonging. Stick to SIETAR Japan and join a union.

4. Educate yourself on microaggressions and racial harassment, and learn how to respond to them. Check this out: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/microaggressions/

5. Your circle of support can be small but very strong.

6. Remember: After all, you are alone on this journey.

“Native Speakers” Only Ads

You see many “native speakers” only ads even when you are looking for university English teaching positions in Japan (e.g., click here: “The Kyoto Sangyo University Common Education Center is looking for native English speakers”).

If you check TEFL Equity website, you will find information on how to tackle native speakerism in ELT. It is often recommended that highlight your strengths, apply, and do not be put off by the “native speakers” only ads.

I no longer find this way of tackling native speakerism empowering because it sounds like we are fixing “non-native” teachers instead of fixing injustice and inequity.

In Adrian Holiday’s terms, native speakerism is ELT’s neo-racism. In his blogpost, Sulaiman Jenkins (2018) writes: 

Ostensibly, ‘native speaker’ means someone who grew up in an English speaking country and has essentially spoken the language from birth, but in reality it has often been used synonymously with being a White speaker from an English speaking country.

The preference for “native” speakers in ELT, which too often means white “native” speakers, is the white supremacy in the ELT industry. So, in our equity efforts, we need to focus on eliminating racist conditions, not on fixing marginalized teachers. 

Another blogpost that I am planning to write is about equity vs equality and how these two terms are being used interchangeably leading to an illusion of equity in ELT. For now, I would like to share a quote by Paul Gorski (2019) based on his article, “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours”:

It is not about fixing marginalized people, it is about fixing the conditions that marginalize people.

I applied for a “native” speaker only job ad once and I will never do that again because if it is not meant for me, I do not want it. I do not want to work with folx who do not understand or do not want to understand how hurtful, painful, exclusionary their job ads are. If you get a job through a racist, discriminatory job ad, you will most probably work at a toxic workplace.

Tokenism

Recently, “non-native” speakers from any nationality are encouraged to apply especially for university ELT positions in Japan. To be honest, it feels good to see such job ads; however, I highly recommend you to be careful as these are part of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” efforts to “globalize”, “internationalize”, and “diversify” Japan, and chances are, you will experience tokenism. From a racial perspective, tokenism is the practice of using People of Color to create the appearance of “diversity”, and that is why tokenism is a form of racism. Here is a narrative that can shed light on this concept:

87

Source: Click here

To get more familiar with the concept of tokenism, please refer to this post: 8 Ways People of Color are Tokenized in Nonprofits

You might ask, how can I make sure that I am not going to be a token hire? How can I avoid tokenism?

Ask questions! For example,

  • Is your university/school a safe place for Teachers of Color?
  • How do you deal with racial harassment?
  • Does your university pay “native” and “non-native” teachers equally?
  • Am I the only non-Japanese, “non-native” teacher at your department/school?
  • Why do you hire “non-native” teachers?

How I Found my ELT Jobs in Japan

Like many folx, I found all my ELT jobs in Japan through my connections, and they are all white and “native” speakers. It feels like I need to be approved by a “native” speaker. When I am introduced by a “native” speaker, I simply start working without even being interviewed.

163.jpg

Source: Click here

My first university job experience started this way:

66

Source: Click here

It was a semester of racial harassment and bullying, and you can check these two links to see how it ended:

My first ever university job experience in Japan was disappointing, but I learned that as a WOC (Woman of Color: a term I learned from a Pakistani American friend here in Japan. Check here to learn about the history of this political term), I need to protect myself. I learned that I should not apply for any job ad out there without knowing about the workplace. I started talking to few folx in my small yet strong circle of support about my challenges, and they helped me find safe workplaces.

Visa Application: Designated Activities or Professor Visa?

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, March 2019 was very stressful. It was time to apply for working visa in Japan.

The first thing that I did was to talk to some folx who are involved in JALT Job Information Center (JIC). They told me that they do not know about visa requirements because most of them are married to Japanese citizens and have Spouse Visa. They also acknowledged that there is some discrimination if you are from a certain country such as Iran. They suggested that I should go to the Immigration Bureau and talk to the immigration consultants there.

Next, I contacted the universities to ask about visa sponsorship. One university said, yes, we will provide it for you and the other one said, “our school would not be able to provide visa sponsorship for a part-time instructor.”

I then went to Support Office for International Students and Scholars, Osaka University many times. I also went to Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau twice (the immigration consultants there do not speak English) and asked which kind of visa I should apply. I brought all my documents and explained my situation:

  1. I will continue teaching part-time at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (6 classes per week)
  2. I will start teaching part-time at the University of Hyogo (2 classes per week)
  3. I will continue teaching part-time at an eikaiwa (6-7 fifty minute classes per week)
  4. One of the universities will provide visa sponsorship and the other one does not.
  5. My boss at the eikaiwa is willing to fill out any necessary form.
  6. I have applied for a full time position at Baika Women’s University (got rejected), Kwansei University (still waiting for the result), and Konan University (still waiting for the result)

We checked List of Statuses of Residence together both at the Support Office and the Immigration Bureau and I was told that I need to apply for Designated Activities (特定活動) visa for the purpose of continuing job hunting in Japan and I need to wait till my graduation day (March 25th, 2019). The length of the initial Designated Activities Visa is 6 months and it can be renewed.

I started collecting all the documents and filling out the forms for Designated Activities visa. I included all the documents that proved that I am in the middle of my job hunting (e.g., rejection letters, emails). It was mid February, everything was ready, and I was just waiting for my graduation day. I have learned from experience that I need to double check everything. That is why I went to the Support Office again, and I was not sure how to answer a question on one of the the visa application forms. They called the Immigration Bureau to find the answer and they suddenly told me that I should apply for Professor (教授) visa because if I apply for Designated Activities visa, I cannot work as a part-time lecturer!!!

It was a big shock to me because I did not have much time and one of the universities had told me that they do not provide visa sponsorship.

Another source of stress was that “native” part-timers usually teach 20-25 university classes per week (I have no idea how they can do that) and I only had 8 university classes and 6-7 eikaiwa classes, which meant my monthly salary would be around 270,000 yen.

I tried to apply for more part-time positions that I happened to know about through personal Facebook pages of some of my friends and colleagues (this is a common way to advertise part-time ELT university positions!). In the meantime, I started preparing the documents for the Professor visa. I noticed that the sponsorship form looks more like confirming that this teacher has a one-year part-time contract at our university and her annual salary is XXX yen. So, I contacted the university that told me they do not provide visa sponsorship for part-timers and shared the file with them. They said they will fill it out for me!

Here is the link to the form (last page: For organization):

http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001290150.pdf

It is worth noting that this is the only question which is related to language education on the form and there is nothing about native speakerism:

Total period of receiving the foreign language education when you teach the foreign language

Also, unlike UK or Canadian visa forms, there is no question about your previous visa refusals or about your travel history. As Bathsheba Okwenje (2019) says,

There is the toll of a possible rejection – a rejection which will affect every subsequent visa application for the rest of your life, because whether you have previously been denied a visa is a specific question on applications. This rejection becomes yet another obstacle to overcome, another area for you to prove that you are indeed worthy of travel and of being in a country that is not your own.

If I am not mistaken, this kind of visa application is known as self-sponsorship among “native” teachers in Japan who need to apply for visa, but I never heard this from the immigration consultants at the Immigration Bureau or I never saw this on the visa application forms.

Visa-queue

Source: Click here

Finally, I applied for the Professor visa with only 8 university classes (2 on Tuesdays, 4 on Wednesdays, and 2 on Fridays) and 6-7 eikaiwa classes (on Wednesdays). I could not find more part-time university jobs. My application for Kwainsei University full-time position got rejected and I never heard back from Konan University (if you are a recruiter, please consider that some folx can show rejection letters as a proof of their job hunting). I paid only 4000 yen for the visa application, which is pretty cheap compared to UK or Canadian visa application fees. The immigration staff checked all my documents to make sure that everything is OK. In general, the application submission process went smoothly, and I was eventually granted the Professor visa. 

Note: I have decided to confront my perfectionism and imposter syndrome and I am planning to blog more. I do not have time to proofread. So, I embrace all my mistakes and typos, which might also be perceived as mistakes. To me, they are the sign that I write in another language: My mother tongue ❤

Advertisements

TESOL 2020: Where the World *Cannot* Come Together!

My Visa Story

I realized that I happen to have one of the most “powerless” passports in the world when my UK visa got rejected three times and I could not attend EUROCALL2017 in person, and many thanks to Virtually Connecting, I could participate in the conference online (You can read about my visa story here: Denied yet Present at EUROCALL 2017: A Memoir).

Now that I have these visa rejections in my visa resume, every single time I apply for a visa I have to disclose them to the visa officer(s). Maybe this is the reason this bitter memory doesn’t fade away (I have written in detail about the nightmare of conference visa applications here).

Why am I writing these again (and again and again)? Because I want you to exactly know why I am “too sensitive” about visas and why I care “too much” about the unfair, and let me be clear, racist Trump travel ban, known as executive disorder among Iranians.

TESOL and Visa

As an ELT scholar, I have always wanted to attend TESOL conferences. I am a working class English instructor and for me TESOL is not an affordable conference to go, and of course I only have Iranian passport, so I automatically don’t submit my abstract(s) to TESOL conferences.

If you check TESOL2019 visa information page (click here, and I couldn’t find the similar page on TESOL2020 website), they ask:

Need A Visa?

For general visa information, visit the U.S. State Department website.

My answer to this question is a big yes, and I did check the US State Department website. I found this brochure, and of course the following information:

On Trump Travel Ban

Nationals of seven countries are currently subject to various travel restrictions contained in the Proclamation, as outlined in the following table, subject to exceptions and waivers set forth in the Proclamation.

The President issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, titled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats,” on September 24, 2017.

Source: Click

Country Nonimmigrant Visas Immigrant and Diversity Visas
Iran No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Libya No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas No immigrant or diversity visas
North Korea No nonimmigrant visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Somalia No immigrant or diversity visas
Syria No nonimmigrant visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Venezuela No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members.
Yemen No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas No immigrant or diversity visas

Source: Click here

You might wonder what “except F, M, and J visas for Iranians” means:

M and F visas: Student visas

J visas: Exchange visitor visas

This protest sign can explain why Iranians get this wavier:

DK-CnlSUIAAnbmm

Source: Unknown (A friend shared this with me)

Let’s keep in mind that this waiver doesn’t mean that you can get the visa as you will be subject to “increased scrutiny”.

And the family members of the individuals affected by Trump travel ban are living in limbo.

Scholars of Color and Travel Ban

I guess now everyone knows about Trump travel ban. Infographics have been designed (one example here), documentaries have been made (one example here), and Twitter accounts have been created (one example is @UndoFamilyBan). Speaking of academia, Scholars of Color have been directly affected by Trump travel ban. Some examples:

You can read more about scholars’ travel ban stories here:

Banned Scientists 

Documenting the impact of the immigration ban on U.S. science

TESOL and the Actions I Took

First, I contacted @TESOL_Assn on Twitter. Here are my private messages:

 

I was told that if I have concerns regarding attending the TESOL Convention, I should contact conventions@tesol.org, and if I have any other questions, I should feel free to let them know.

I then tweeted this:

And I kept mentioning @TESOL_Assn and @TESOLConv.

And I wrote an email to the organizers (I usually refer to them as People in Power Positions):

Wed, Jul 11, 2018, 9:40 PM

Hi,

I hope this email finds you well.

I am contacting you about TESOL 2019 which will be held 12–15 March in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I have noticed that “Where the world comes together” is being used to publicize the conference on TESOL social media. In this challenging, divisive time, this is not possible and I hope TESOL PR team reconsiders the way the word “world” is used. I am aware that some conference organizers (e.g., International Society for Language Studies) have decided not to hold their conferences in the USA until the travel ban is lifted. This is something that TESOL might want to consider. Moreover, opportunities can be provided to people who are affected by the travel ban to present online synchronously or asynchronously. I look forward to being able to participate at TESOL conferences.

Peace,

Parisa

I received a very positive reply and I was told that TESOL is against the travel ban and is trying to provide opportunities for those who are affected by the ban.

Note 1: Check ISLS’ response to Travel Ban here. ISLS 2018 was held in Canada and ISLS 2019 will be held in Hong Kong (check here). 

Note 2: I am sharing these private efforts because when you blog or share something on social media and express your concerns, you are told, “Why didn’t you write privately to them?”.

Recently, I noticed that “Where the World Comes Together” is still used for TESOL2020. I mentioned @RiahWerner and asked her to be my voice and bring this to the attention of TESOL’s Social Responsibility Interest Section (@SRIStesol) people as I know that she is involved in that SIG.

She then kindly suggested that I could write for the Social Responsibility Interest Section newsletter. I thought that’s a good idea and I immediately opened a Word file and started writing. I was in the middle of writing and researching that I noticed the theme of the conference for TESOL 2020 is “Where the World Comes Together”!

The TESOL ​2020 convention theme is Where the World Comes Together. Join the international TESOL community in Denver, Colorado, USA, and experience what makes this association unique: Engage in dialogue with present and future practitioners, administrators, researchers, and advocacy leaders about language education and policy as you enrich your knowledge, networks, and professional experience.

If you are an ELT professional or scholar or in a related field or content area, you are invited to submit a proposal for the TESOL 2020!

Source: Click here

That moment I realized that I should write what I want to say here on my platform.

To TESOL and Scholars of Color

Dear TESOL,

Thousands of academics have signed a letter opposing Trump’s travel ban (click here).

Thousands of scholars have protested against Trump’s travel ban by boycotting academic conferences held in the US (click here).

In solidarity with people affected by the ‘Muslim Ban’, an academic boycott of international conferences held in the US has been formed (click here).

I understand that it might not be easy to hold your conferences outside the US, however, I believe:

  • Changing your PR slogan was/is still possible.
  • Providing opportunities for virtual presentation and online participation was/is still possible.
  • Choosing a meaningful theme for educators who are constantly being told to be “inclusive” and teach “critical thinning”, “critical literacy”, and other buzzwords was possible.

if and only if you truly care. 

I have read your TESOL Statement on Second Immigration Executive Order many times! I used to be a big fan of Public Statements, but I’ve changed my mind. Apparently, they just serve the power structure. Also, I do follow your advocacy program which “addresses issues that affect the profession worldwide”. I’ve repeatedly asked myself, Why don’t these advocacy efforts facilitate real change? I then go and read @pgorski‘s article again: Complicity with conservatism: The de-politicizing of multicultural and intercultural education.

Dear fellow Scholars of Color,

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.

quote-when-we-speak-we-are-afraid-our-words-will-not-be-heard-or-welcomed-but-when-we-are-silent-we-are-audre-lorde-114756

Peace,

Parisa

 

Women of Color in ELT

I’ve been trying to fit into the unjust, unfair, inequitable, and exclusionary ELT world about 5 years since I moved to Japan.

I have stopped trying to fit in. What happened and why? The following figure can give you some idea. You can also go through the blogposts here. So, I no longer wish to be “included” and no longer let anyone “include” me as those who have the power to “include”, have also the power to exclude.

Page-1

Source: Click here h/t: Click here

This blogpost by Maha Bali, Unpacking Terms Around Equity, Power and Privilege, and this lecture (Revolution Todayby Angela Davis were so eye-opening to me as I truly realized why “diversity” and “inclusion” are such problematic terms.

If we stand up against racism, we want much more than inclusion. Inclusion is not enough. Diversity is not enough, and as a matter of fact, we do not wish to be included in a racist society.

I remember that when I came to Japan, I was added to or encouraged to join ELT Facebook groups about gender equality/equity. Well, I did. I then turned the groups’ notifications off, and I told myself, I live in Japan and I have no gender issues anymore. So naive, huh?

I’m now acutely aware of the inequities imposed by the intersections of race, gender, skin color, physical appearance, nationality, and religion.

I even shifted my research focus from Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) —quite male-dominated area of research in ELT— to Social Justice Education and Equity Studies in Education (SESE).

I supported, joined, and got involved in feminist/equity/equality movements in ELT:

JALT GALE SIG

Women in ELT

EVE: Equal Voices in ELT

Equality in ELT in Japan

I also read about:

The Fair List

Gender Equality ELT

There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me that something is missing: A sense of belonging. A sense of representation.

I believe the reason is that the issues related to Women of Color in ELT, whose struggles are way different, are often ignored, and issues related to race are often swept under the rug.

For example, a database of women ELT speakers

  • cannot help women who have visa issues (e.g., read my visa story here, click here as well) and that is why we need to talk more about open access in ELT and support movements like Virtually Connecting.
  • cannot help women who live in contexts where currency crisis is an issue and that is why we need to add class to the equation.
  • cannot help women who find ELT conferences inhospitable and unsafe and that is why their needs should be addressed (e.g., how to navigate predominately white spaces in ELT).

I tried hard to communicate with these pictures.

14717115_1147229178702699_2482578408615413764_n

Click here

26907780_10155033543607455_6743321490634932646_n

Click here

56770765_863172917362081_5545501398516367360_n

Click here

I googled and started reading to connect and bridge the historical gaps in my mind.

For example, I found this:

Rosie the Riveter isn’t a universal icon: “That was a white woman’s story”

So it wasn’t that I was boycotting the Rosie story. It simply had nothing to say to me.

That is why, inspired by Scholars of Color in Language Studies (SCiLS) and KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG, I have decided to start this movement in the hope of bringing Women of Color in ELT together so that we can support each other, learn together, and share our feelings that are constantly denied and invalidated by the dominant power structure in ELT:

 Women of Color in ELT

Women of Color in ELT, Twitter post

I want Women of Color to stand together against racial erasure in ELT.

I want Women of Color’s intersecting complex identities to be represented in ELT.

I want Women of Color in ELT to belong.

Peace, radical love, and revolutionary hope,

Parisa


You can read about WOC in ELT and its mission and goals at:

https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/about-woc-in-elt/

If you identify as a Woman of Color in ELT (read about the term “Woman of Color” here) and would like to add your name to the Database of WOC in ELT, you can fill out this form.

If you are a true ally and want to support this movement, please check WOC in ELT Supporters.

Intersectionality Workshop at ILA2018

viber image

Intersectionality workshop at ILA2018: A diverse, gender-balanced audience! 🙂

This week I presented at ILA2018 (here is the link to my poster presentation: “Write 4 Change”: Cultivating Autonomous, Global EFL Learners through Blogging). The conference highlight for me was the intersectionality workshop presented by Quenby Hoffman Aoki, JALT GALE SIG‘s coordinator.

It's Complicated_ Exploring Intersectional Identities in the Language Classroom

In her interactive workshop, Quenby first defined intersectionality, and then the participants discussed their experiences and engaged in several activities which can be applied in language classrooms.

What Is Intersectionality?

  • First named in the 1980’s by African-American feminist scholars (e.g., Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech, 1851)
  • Intersecting identities, including race, class, and gender, result in both privilege and oppression
  • The idea that systems of oppression are interrelated and cannot be considered in isolation
  • Also known as hybridity, matrix of oppression, multiple identities, mestizaje, double jeopardy
  • Although everyone has both privilege and challenge, intersectionality is ultimately about social justice!

Here is a video on intersectionality from Teaching Tolerance website: Teaching at the Intersections: Honor and teach about your students’ multiple identities

 

Here are some parts from Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait:

Intersectionality was a lived reality before it became a term.

Intersectionality is not just about identities but about the institutions that use identity to exclude and privilege. The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another,  the less likely our movements for change are to fracture.

Others accuse intersectionality of being too theoretical, of being “all talk and no action.” To that I say we’ve been “talking” about racial equality since the era of slavery and we’re still not even close to realizing it. Instead of blaming the voices that highlight problems, we need to examine the structures of power that so successfully resist change.

Here is a book recommended by Quenby: Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective by Shawn Meghan Burn

The quotes that Quenby referred to:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Activities

Student-generated Comments

Small groups discuss current text or topic. Each group writes one comment or sentence on the board. Then, for homework students choose one of the comments for a short essay. At the bottom of their essays, each student writes one further question, to be discussed in the next class.

For example: Not all women are emotional, and not all men are logical.

Writing on the Wall

8 to 10 controversial sentences related to current class topic (you can see a sample below), with a horizontal line (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Tape on wall around classroom. Students walk around and put their mark on the line. Afterwards, discuss the results. Follow up with an essay assignment.

viber image2

The “Privilege and Challenge” Walk

Privilege Walk Lesson Plan: https://peacelearner.org/2016/03/14/privilege-walk-lesson-plan/

Note: “Privilege and Challenge” Walk has been criticized and I need to read more about it and learn how to make it better. I recently talked to Maha Bali about the activity and she believes that role play is better than making a line to do the activity.

The Big Social Identities

List the three that you think are most important.

  1. Race (Skin Color)
  2. Ethnicity (Background)
  3. Gender
  4. Socioeconomic Status (Class)
  5. Religion
  6. Sexual Orientation
  7. Physical and Mental Ability
  8. Age
  9. Nationality

Now complete the sentence:

Hello, my name is …………………. and I am ……………………………………………………… and ………………………………………………………………………………………

Discussion:

  • Are there any of the above categories that you do not relate to or think about much?
  • Any you find problematic or confusing? Any other categories you would like to add to the list? (Marital status was mentioned by one of the participants)
  • Which of your identities do you think others judge you by the most?
  • Which carry the most privilege or challenge?
  • Bonus ** Which of them are social constructs?

Freewrite:

Examine an interaction you have had recently. Consider how the situation might have been different if you change one aspect of your identity?

 

Why Did I Have A Good Time at EUROCALL2018? Advice for Marginalized Scholars

Why Did I Have A Good Time at EUROCALL2018_ Advice for Women of Color Scholars

I finally made it to EUROCALL! This year’s conference, EUROCALL2018, was held in Jyväskylä, Finland. Check this video if you are not sure how to pronounce Jyväskylä. I had a good time at EUROCALL2018 and here are the details why.

1

Because:

The Nightmare of Visa Application Ended Happily!

My UK visa got rejected three times and I could not attend EUROCALL2017 physically (here is the link to the story: https://parisamehran.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/denied-yet-present-at-eurocall-2017-a-memoir/). If you have a powerful passport, I invite you to read my blogpost (please click here) on the nightmare of conference visa applications, which are very complicated for scholars who are from the Global South (yes, I dislike the term “developing countries” because outside Iran I realized that people are from the so-called “developed countries”, however, their behaviors are truly under-developed!).

Because:

I Educated Myself on How to Survive at Academic Conferences!

One of my Twitter friends introduced me to Raewyn Connell’s series, titled Survive and Thrive at an Academic Conference: A Guide for Beginners, in Five Outbursts and a Couch, about a week before the conference.

Finally, someone has said: “Academic conferences can be hard to decode, even alienating“, “cliques form, and ignore or exclude outsiders”, “you can have toxic experiences: harassment, bullying, or other aggression”, and I could not stop reading this paragraph:

‘Border protection’ by governments often excludes leftists, Muslims, and intellectuals from societies in conflict. I was at one conference in a rich white-majority country where a keynote speaker arrived, was seized by immigration police at the airport, and immediately deported – strange to tell, a woman of colour. Heroically she managed to give the keynote address by Skype.

After finishing reading the series, I googled and found more resources on this topic and the following part from a blogpost, titled Advice for Attending Academic Conferences (For Scholars on the Margins), is close to my heart:

We must be honest about the additional concerns and burdens of conferences and interacting with other scholars in general—the external burdens of microaggressions, harassment, stereotyping, disrespect and the internal burdens of self-doubt, mental health problems, and fear — for scholars on the margins.

Because:

I Decided to Apply the Lessons I Learned the Hard Way!

In 2014, I obtained the Japanese Government Scholarship and am now doing my PhD in Japan. I realized in the first few days of living in Japan that there are certain stereotypes about the Middle East, especially about Iran my homeland. Attending conferences has gradually become alienating and I always feel the tension in the air as all the micro/macroaggressions that I am experiencing on a daily basis have made me acutely aware of the inequities imposed by the intersection of race, gender, and physical appearance (please check this blog where I record my ouch moments: https://beyondyourstereotypes.wordpress.com/). Therefore, the question of “how should I look” is recently always with me!

2

Because:

I Attended Wikipedia for Language Teaching and Learning Workshop!

My EUROCALL2018 journey started with attending Wikipedia for Language Learning and Teaching workshop by Teresa Mackinnon and Niklas Laxström.

You can find my notes at the following tweet:

That was a great start, because if you know Teresa, you can imagine how welcoming her session was ❤

DlMKYdmW4AAVbpb

Because:

I Was the Virtually Connecting On-Site Buddy!

Last year, Virtually Connecting connected me to EUROCALL2017 and this year I was the on-site buddy! Check this link to watch the recordings:

http://virtuallyconnecting.org/blog/2018/08/05/virtually-connecting-at-eurocall2018/

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Because:

I Became Friends with Two Like-Minded EUROCALL First Timers!

Danyang Zhang

She is a CALL enthusiast and doing her PhD on MALL and Vocabulary Learning at the University of Cambridge.

Image_ff9ec46

Jessica Zipf

She is a linguist and doing her PhD on Computational Linguistics at University of Konstanz.

Image_caf5e75

We had deep conversations about feeling marginalized at academia and explored EUROCALL2018 together, especially the parties which are the hardest parts of conferences to attend!

Because:

My Voice Got Heard and I Won the Best PhD Student Poster Award!

I stood beside my poster the whole day and I presented it to more than 50 people because I believe my story is the story of many scholars who are from the Global South and should be heard.

Here is the link to the poster:

Because:

My Allies Were Around!

On-site allies (in alphabetical order):

  • Sahar Alzahrani
  • Kate Borthwick
  • Mark Donnellan
  • Mirjam Hauck
  • Kym Jolley
  • Teresa Mackinnon
  • Louise Ohashi
  • Shannon Sauro
  • Michelle Stannard
  • Richmond Stroupe
  • Victoria Willingale
  • Sarah Winspear
  • Mari Yamauchi

Online allies (in alphabetical order):

  • Maha Bali
  • Martina Emke
  • Simon Ensor
  • Helen DeWaard

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Because:

I Dispelled Stereotypes!

At the dinner party, one of Japan-based colleagues approached me and asked:

-“Are you allowed to dance?”

I just said, “yeah” because he was drunk.

When he saw me the next day, he came to me and said:

-“Oh, you took it off!” (pointing to my head. He meant my headscarf.)

I replied:

-“Because I am allowed to do whatever I want!”

He said,

-“Yeah, you want to get some sun.”

I said:

-“No, because I am proving my humanity!”

He laughed, did not say anything, and left.

Here is the link to the blogpost of this story:

https://beyondyourstereotypes.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/are-you-allowed-to-dance/

For the record, here is a photo of me from EUROCALL2015 held in Padova, Italy.

BTW, have you ever changed your physical appearance to be treated fairly at conferences? If yes, please leave a comment.

Picture1

Because:

I Received the Nicest Comment Ever!

Talking to Shannon Sauro about my challenges, she said this at the end of our conversion:

You are an activist!

Because:

It Was My Birthday!

August 25th is my birthday and I received the best birthday present ever: The EUROCALL2018 Poster Award 🙂

In conclusion, I would like to share my experiences which might be used as advice for marginalized scholars. The things I wish I had known before becoming a conference goer:

awp-womens-caucus

Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/2C9f9vs

  • I do not add people that I meet at conferences on Facebook.
  • I sometimes follow people on Twitter or LinkedIn. Recently, I have decided to not follow the big names. If I have the chance to get to know them, which means they are approachable, I’ll definitely follow them on social media but still do not add them on Facebook.
  • I do not say hi to everyone (this is so hard because greeting is a huge part of my culture and I need to remind myself all the time not to say hi!).
  • I do keep smiling! 🙂
  • I do not take the initiative to socialize with people, especially at the so-called “networking” events. If people want to communicate, they come to me.
  • I spend most of my time with first timers. Most of the time they are willing to communicate even when they do not belong to minority groups.
  • I find marginalized fellow scholars and socialize with them.
  • I do not take photos with keynote speakers, big names, or people I do not know.
  • I watch inspiring speeches by women before the conferences. This is my favorite: https://edition.cnn.com/videos/cnnmoney/2018/06/07/oprah-winfrey-nmaahc-exhibit-opens-sot.cnn
  • I hold my head high, feel proud of who I am, and I walk into a room, just as cool as you please! 😉

I am sure I’ll update this list as I get more experience. Please leave a comment if you would like to add to the list.

Peace ❤

JALTCALL2018 from My Angle

JALTCALL2018 from My Angle

I attended and presented at JALTCALL2018 in June (you can find my poster here) and here are some highlights, takeaways, and thoughts (I know I should have written this blog post much earlier!):

JALTCALL2018v2-678x510

  • I attended Andrew Blyth’s workshop, How to Set up Your Own Website to Support Your Students and Career. Check HelloSpace to learn more on this topic.

viber image

  • I talked to Gary Ross about how to learn to code, and here is his advice:
  1. Start with creating a webpage
  2. Take online courses on coding
  3. Listen to Jen Simmons’s podcasts:  http://jensimmons.com/
  4. Read books (I’m waiting for Gary to share his favorite books with me. I’ll add them later).

After talking to Gary, I searched and found these two websites:

https://learntocodewith.me/

https://1millionwomentotech.com/

  • While I liked the interactive nature of the roundtable, The Future of Educational Technology, I found the discussion about introversion and shyness simplistic and biased. Also, linguistic imperialism was acknowledged, however, the message was: That’s the way it is. We enjoy it!

The Nightmare of Conference Visa Applications

I currently live in a country which, according to the index of passport power (2018), holds the top ranking passport in the world.

I only have an Iranian passport and I found a website where I could compare my passport with other passports: www.henleypassportindex.com/compare-passport

Untitled

If you know me, you definitely know about my UK visa rejections and my online presence at EUROCALL2017 (here is the link to the story just in case: https://parisamehran.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/denied-yet-present-at-eurocall-2017-a-memoir/)

EUROCALL2018 will be held in Jyväskylä, Finland next month. Here is the title of my poster presentation:

Anika Kohler

In the middle of visa application for Finland, I wanted to give up many times and asked myself this question all the time:

“What if my visa application is denied again?”

Many thanks to a Canadian friend who encouraged me to continue and apply, I am off to Tokyo tomorrow to submit the documents on Monday and here I would like to share some of the tweets by Naveen Minai about the challenges of academics in, [and from], the Global South.

Before she starts, she emphasizes that she knows the term ‘Global South’ is still problematic and contested but she needs a shorthand for Twitter.

We need to apply for visas for traveling for conferences and research. Visa applications are time-consuming, expensive, and require a ton of running around and documentations, and approval is not guaranteed even if you have an invitation from conference organizers.

This means we often don’t apply for conferences in other countries because we

  1. can’t afford the visa app fee

  2. don’t have time to complete the visa application requirements

Also, a lot of us earn in currencies which are weak compared to, for example, US & Canadian dollars, UK pounds, or Euros. So it costs A LOT for us to not only apply for visas, but also to travel if we do get the visa in time.

Here is the list of documents that I prepared to apply for the Finnish visa and I have to mention that I paid 75,000 JPY (670 USD) yen for the translation of the Japanese documents. I also need to remark that it took me about 2 months and a half to collect all the documents:

  • Application form
  • Copy of the personal information page in my passport
  • Copy of my alien registration card
  • One colored passport photograph
  • Travel insurance
  • Reservation for travel tickets
  • Hotel reservation
  • Itinerary
  • Bank statement for the last six months
  • Bank account balance statement
  • Certificate of studentship
  • Certificate of Japanese Government Scholarship (Monbukagakusho)
  • Receipt of the conference registration
  • Payroll statement: Princeford English College, Kobe City University of Foreign Languages, Kobe Women’s University, Konan Women’s University
  • Invitation letter from EUROCALL2018
  • My supervisor’s letter saying that all the expenses will be covered by Osaka University
  • My business card
  • Copies of job contracts
  • Certificate of marraige
  • My husband’s alien registration card and personal information page in his passport

This year I also submitted two proposals to ISLS2018. Both of them got accepted, I registered for the conference and paid 160 Canadian Dollars, but I had to withdraw simply because I found the application for Canadian visa too complicated especially because the Visa and Immigration Section at the Embassy of Canada in Japan (Tokyo) is closed and services have been transferred to the Embassy of Canada in Philippines (Manila) plus I did not have time to complete the visa application requirements.

Naveen concludes:

Here, I would like to ask academics in the Global North to please x 10000 include video conference/Skype tech for conferences whenever possible so we can participate too! Esp b/c I do appreciate that funds &/or discounts for international travel & accommodation is also difficult to do!

And I cannot finish this blog post without referring to the following tweets.

Wish me good luck! And let me answer my own question: 

“What if my visa application is denied again?”

I will be online, follow every single tweet of the conference, and will be there via Virtually Connecting! 🙂