I spent the latter part of February and the month of March at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. This was an incredible opportunity supported by my dear colleague, Associate Professor Cheryl Brown, who I previously worked with at the University of Cape Town. I had not seen Cheryl for a few years, but reached out to see if she might be open to me coming and able to provide a desk for me to continue my own research.

Being on sabbatical gave me an opportunity to take this opportunity. I brought my own work and research with me to work on in a completely different context. Additionally, Cheryl and I set up a couple workshops and engagements with graduate students and faculty members from the School of Education while on site. I was also able to attend several public lectures and social events within the faculty.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the Faculty of Education. The staff and faculty were incredibly welcoming, and I was quickly integrated into their shared office space on the fifth floor of the building. Surprisingly, I was happy to be back in a shared office space. Each workstation had five-foot walls, but most of the entire floor was open plan, with some offices available for meetings and focused work. I had forgotten how good it was to work in a shared office space and the perception of focus brought on when working amongst others. Graduate students were given places to work amongst faculty offices which I found really exciting and this provided an opportunity to meet and discuss ideas with several graduate students.

The campus at the University of Canterbury is very impressive. There are so many well thought out spaces for students to work within and among the buildings. Food services were fantastic with options ranging from sushi, sandwiches, Asian fusion, pizza, fast food, a campus bar, and several espresso shops. Many of the buildings have been rebuilt since the 2011 earthquake and have been designed to withstand future quakes.

Scenes from the University of Canterbury

In addition to Cheryl and her family I had an opportunity to connect with Laura Czerniewicz who was visiting concurrently. Cheryl, Laura, and I worked together while I was a research assistant and graduate student at the university of Cape Town, and they were both incredibly formative in the development of my research and current thinking. Laura delivered two great public lectures while visiting, so I was really delighted to hear about her current research. Roger, Cheryl’s partner, was also a great mentor and friend who I worked with in Cape Town and it was great to reconnect with him. I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Laura D’Olimpio, a visiting scholar from the University of Birmingham in the UK. Laura and I shared many conversations and connected as visiting scholars, exploring the city of Christchurch at events and eateries. I felt lucky to have my visit coincide with hers. I also managed to spend some time with Dave Lane from the OERu. Dave offered lots of advice and we had some great conversations about open source education, sharing the exciting work that he is doing at OERu. Big thanks to Dave for introducing me to Wayne Mackintosh as well. Finally, just as I was preparing to end my time at the university, I met Kwaku Adomako, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland who was also visiting. We shared several interesting conversations and social engagements, and it was a great opportunity to meet.

Photos of fun times with old and new friends met along the way

This was an incredible opportunity and I’m fortunate to have the support of the University of Victoria by way of time to do this. The trip has given me an opportunity to work amongst and learn from another Faculty of Education. I believe this will enhance my research and practice by giving me a broader context to situate and understand our field. I am hopeful we can develop some partnerships between our respective universities. It would be interesting to have ongoing student or faculty exchanges as I see many synergies and opportunities for learning across the New Zealand and Canadian context.

There are so many people to thank for their hospitality and generosity during my stay. I want to extend a huge thank you to Cheryl Brown for hosting me and the entire faculty for being so warm, receptive, and kind. I learned so much during my visit and I am very appreciative. Feel free to come visit us.

Reflections from my time as Visiting Scholar at the University of Canterbury
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