I recently interviewed Prof. Marylynn Steckley about her experience researching food in Haiti for my podcast Dispatch 7. One experience that she talked about was being a mother in the field, and what it was like to give birth, to deal with inequality, and to address race while raising children. She also discussed how she had to deal emotionally with the fact that not only was she getting sick, but also her family was. I’ve long thought that one of the topics that we often avoid in International and Global Studies is personal health. If you go into the field in a relatively poor country for an extended period you are going to get sick. But graduate students are seldom warned of this, much less prepared for it, either practically or emotionally. Personally, I think that every graduate student leaving for a developing country should listen to the stories of someone like Dr. Steckley.
Although Marylynn works at Carleton University in Canada now, she was also my colleague for a year at Portland State University in the United States. During that year students flocked to her classes, in part because she had the ability to discuss complex and difficult issues with honesty and passion. In the interview she talked about her experience teaching a class on “Global Craft,” as an online course in experiential learning. In the course she brought together crafts people from around the world to talk about their expertise. Of course, most students at a public institution cannot pay many thousands of dollars for a carefully curated program abroad. As we also discuss in the podcast, some students have children, or disabilities, that limit their ability to travel abroad. But students can have an international experience that is still meaningful by learning from people in other countries. By the end of the interview I was envious that I hadn’t been able to take part in the class. Except for the Finnish showers. Hard no.
Want to hear more episodes from my podcast? You can find it here. The most popular episodes are Rosa David’s thoughts on how to apply to graduate school, Kim Brown’s discussion of tea, and Grace Dillon’s discussion of Indigenous Futurism. If you are interested in international careers, you might want to listen to this episode. Finally, for my Lusophone friends, you might like this Portuguese language episode.