Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Take Me Home Tonight

I fly to Boston on Saturday morning to attend Graduate Horizons. Since it's a workshop that focuses on applying to graduate school, naturally it has me thinking about an eventual academic career.

I know I want to do a PhD someday and I would love to be a professor. As a huge nerd, reading and writing is my dream career. (Don't hate!) I haven't done teaching in the literal sense, but I do enjoy sharing the knowledge I have with others when they ask (and sometimes when they don't) and engaging in respectful debate.

(And, I choose to ignore anyone who tells me there are no jobs, I'll have no money and no life. Ha!)

But there are some questions that tug at me...

What will it be like to potentially be the only Anishinabekwe in my grad program?

Do my reasons for wanting to do a PhD differ from those of settlers?

How can I involve my family/community/nation in the application or research processes?

How might having a PhD affect how I am perceived within Indian Country?

To be honest, I sometimes feel very gloomy and Eeyore-esque about it all.

Already, I live and work away from my community and it can be hard to stay/feel truly connected when I'm not there in my day-to-day life. I worry that a feeling of disconnection might worsen if I move even further away to pursue another degree.

But, yesterday I started to read Indigenizing the Academy by Devon Abbott Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head.

What if doing a PhD can bring me closer to home--literally and figuratively?

Doing research for my MA *did* bring me home. How could I have forgotten? I remember driving to Kitigan Zibi on frigid, sunny winter days, my grandfather greeting me as he took his old Indian showshoes off his feet, and us sitting by the fire with tea, cookies, and stories. (There was a tape recorder involved--sorry if that spoils the image.)

My family has so many stories to tell. Stories that aren't written in history books, but told to grandchildren who are willing to listen. Stories begging to be memorized or recorded and told to future generations. PhD dissertations require original research topics, right? Well, it doesn't get realer than this.

Maybe grad school can take me home.

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