Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Post 14: Housekeeping, Catch-Up, David Suzuki, and Support

It's getting to be the end of the semester, and I'm enjoying marking final projects. I'm also finding myself doing the little things that are setting me up to continue this project through the summer: letting Student Aid BC know that I'm still in school (which allows me to not worry about having to resume paying back my remaining student loan debt), registering for the summer semester, and renewing my ethics application, just in case I need to collect a bit more data from particular research participants.

Monday evening I had the most delightful catchup with some of my colleagues. It's so wonderful and encouraging to hear how they're doing on their projects, and to be able to connect in our misery. I continue to hear from others that they feel more negative about their work than their supervisors do. By and large the feedback that they receive from their supervisors is positive, and I have the same experience with my own supervisor. While I have not yet given any written work to him, any time we chat it is a great check in, and I feel more encouraged and excited about my work. My worries about my inadequacies take the back burner for a bit, and completing this master's begins to feel possible again, and it felt the same with Monday's discussion. Thank you, thank you, dear colleagues, for sharing your experiences. (I will note, not all grad students have the same experiences. One fellow is almost finished writing his third chapter, and is well on schedule to complete his degree and defend by around July. Another also mentioned that she was feeling positive about the writing process and while unsure of a timeline to finish, was enjoying the process of doing her writing now.)

                                         Another West Coast beauty: one of the saxifrage species!

Tomorrow morning I get to sit through a practice-run of one of colleagues who I feel most close to, Ms. Jenna Falk. I helped her with the field research and manning the blog for our work, which was early in her degree a couple years ago with the Mountain Legacy Project, and it's wonderful to see her project come together as it has. Her defence is Friday, and I'm certain she will do great!!

The great weather here in town has also really really helped. My mood has picked up, my attitude has brightened, and I feel much more clear-headed about the tasks I've set in the coming weeks.

Being a grad student, I feel so lucky to be able to call on wonderful, intelligent folks for stimulating conversations and ideas exploration and, really, advice, too. My experience of this graduate degree has most thoroughly been enriched by meeting people like Richard Smith and his wife Nancy, who came to Victoria last week for a talk hosted by the Environmental Studies Department and the SEA group and a number of other organizations in town. I read this article by Smith before attending his talk, and well, talk about a conversation starter. Essentially, we keep capitalism, or we keep our planet. (I vote for keeping the planet, though that is a big, big, challenging project, considering the force that capitalism is.)

It's also super great to see others writing about their exciting work, like my colleague Kira Hoffman - a particularly talented woman who will join the list of upcoming great ecologists! I recently very much enjoyed her post and pictures on both her blog and this article.

I'm also volunteering tonight for the talk David Suzuki is delivering on campus. It's moments like these that I have to pinch myself to make sure I realize how lucky I am to meet some of the movers and shakers I've looked up to for a long time. Not that I want to say that I do this blindly -- we're all people and subject to our fears and lapses in reasoning, Suzuki included, but in this project of sharing ideas and making something of this adventure of life, I admire and want to recognize the great contribution of the lifetime of work that Suzuki has produced. I'm looking forward to meeting this wonderful person. I am also grateful to my dad, who years ago gave me one the David Suzuki Reader and made me aware of this person and his ideas; undoubtedly, that gift contributes to my excitement for tonight.

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