Thursday, November 20, 2003

Two weeks later and it's back in the northern hemisphere. This is the crazy time of year for me, when the transitions are especially challenging. My second two month stint for the year at the University of Ballarat in Australia ended on 10 November, with a flight back to Mexico in time to participate in the annual conference hosted in Morelia by the Michoacan Institute for Educational Sciences or El Instituto Michoancano de Ciencias de la Educacion (IMCED).

This event has become quite a regular for us, and this year we presented the opening plenary address as well as a workshop on aspects of qualitative research (which ran on two successive evenings for three hours each night). We presented in our own versions of Spanish, and seemed to get through OK. This is always stressful, however, and usually provides a timely reminder for what it must be like for so many immigrants trying to learn and work in a new language. We think we may be lucky in the sense that the Mexicans we have interacted with in a range of settings and in a range of modes over the past 5 years seem especially generous in their attempts to understand what we are wanting to say and, indeed, to help us say it.

We will blog our Plenary at the first opportunity. Suffice to say at this point that we were asked to illustrate some of our ideas about data collection, analysis and interpretation in qualitative research -- as described in our books published by IMCED -- by reference to some of our own research involvements. To do this we drew mainly on some aspects of the Digital Rhetorics project conducted in Australia in the late 90s.

IMCED had planned to launch one of our new books, on Data Collection (Maneras de Buscar) at this conference, but production had been delayed by a couple of weeks. Happily, for us, another university in Morelia, the UPN (National Pedagogical University), had just received copies of a book we had done for them, called Maneras de Saber. So with our part of the conference over, on the Saturday morning we went to the UPN for the launch. It was a great event. We introduced the book briefly, explaining why we wanted to publish such a book in Mexico and what work we hoped it might do, and then two local academics gave in depth commentaries on the text and how they saw it in relation to the local context. We did a brief interview with the local press after the launch, and after signing copies bought by members of the 150 strong audience that turned up.

If fighting jet lag and extremes of cultural transition seemed like hard work at the time, we were reminded yet again that the effort required pales in comparison with the carino we experience in Mexico, and the energy that is generated by spending time amongst colleagues and friends of the utmost goodwill and who seemingly possess limitless generosity.

It is always a joy and a privilege to come home.

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