Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My First Guest Lecture: Bow Tie and All

Hey Everyone :)

Last week on Tuesday I gave my first ever guest lecture in a course offered at Western University: Women's Studies 3330G - Race, Gender, and Migration: The History of Black Women in Canada. I have to give a huge shout out to my mentor Dr. Christopher Stuart Taylor (Linkedin, e-mail: ctaylo32@uwo.ca) for giving me this excellent opportunity and for encouraging me to out dress him [which may or may not have happened ;)]. I also must acknowledge two colleagues who presented alongside me, Nassisse Solomon (e-mail nsolomon@uwo.ca and Jon Malek (e-mail jmalek7@uwo.ca).

My lucky bow tie (Thanks Aishu!)
The lecture format was pretty basic. We each had about 10 minutes each to cover some ground followed by a 30 minutes Q & A. In reality we all spent a little too long talking so it turned it about 15 or so minutes each and a 15 minute Q & A but I guess that's what happens when you throw a bunch of grad students into a class room and ask them to talk about something they are passionate about, haha. Jon covered early Canadian immigration policy from 1867 up until the introduction of the points system in 1967. I covered the mechanics of the points system and the evolution in contemporary immigration and refugee policy. Nassisse discussed the idea of writing marginalized histories and the history of immigration in Canada. She also explored how identity shapes the conception of what it means to be Canadian and critiques out understanding of the phrase "I Am Canadian".

I had a wonderful time lecturing in the class. It was a 3000 lvl course so the majority of students were in their 3rd or 4th years. They were unbelievably engaged with the material and we had some really interesting discussions throughout the remainder of the class during the student presentations. It was encouraging to see so many student who actually wanted to learn. There are a lot of times when you TA courses for 1st and 2nd year students or lecture in those classes where students are often trying to fulfill degree requirements or are forced to take a certain class. Part of the instructor's job and the TA's is to help students to engage in the material. Make it fun, make it interesting, make it pertinent to the current context. It is infinitely easier to get involved and be excited with your readings if you can see the utility behind what you are learning. How does this relate to the current context? What is the so what? I personally feel that when students can envision the end goal or the objective of a course on their own they are a lot more motivated to participate in class and actually do their readings. I can definitely relate form my own undergraduate experience. There were so many times when I looked at my reading list and said, "Really? That was the worst chunk of reading I have ever done," or more commonly, "I'm going to 'skim' that article".

As for the lecture itself, I covered the basics of contemporary immigration and refugee policy. A few quick highlights were:

- the introduction of the celebrated 'points system' that was created as a means of eliminating any formal prejudice based on race, class, or gender
- how the current point system works
- the 1976 Immigration Act and the current policy of immigration known as the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act (2000)
- the inherent issues surrounding the points system and how it continues to be biased based on race, class, and gender demonstrating institutional prejudice towards certain groups of people
- a very quick discussion of TFWPs (Temporary Foreign Worker Programs) the most famous examples being SAWP (Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program) and the Live-in Caregiver Program.

If you are interested in learning more about the actual lecture feel free to comment or send me an e-mail and I can send you my lecture script, slides, and a couple excellent articles to get you familiar with the topic. That's all for now folks but stayed tuned for another guest lecture coming up in March which is a full 3 hour class on the "Refugee Crisis in Canada during the 1970s".

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