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 Teaching and Learning 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 ❤

Advertisements

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! 🙂