Oxford University

Why Are You Not An Expert on Social Capital?

· Academic Life

The subtitle of this blog was a question for a participant at the 2015 MERSA Education Conference. I had just returned to my seat after participating in a panel discussion about my dissertation research. The woman, a professor, shared her work on social capital with teacher education majors in her department. She told "You are young and on the cusp of your career. Don't stop reading and writing, set a goal and write a paper each summer. You can own this because you know this." Wow....after only 20 minutes, this was her observation of me. I used her question as motivation and to set a goal as I approach the new year.

Summer 2017 

"We are excited to extend an invitation for you to present your research at Oxford University"

When I received the email invitation in May, I thought it was a joke. But it wasn't. When I submitted the abstract on my paper about student persistence and social capital, I never thought it would be accepted. Yet, three months later I was on a plane with my daughter Kathryn headed to Oxford, England.

The Oxford Experience - August 2017

The Education Research Symposium at Oxford University is an opportunity to present research in a forum setting with other scholars who have an interest in the theory and practice of universal education. I had been working on what they call a "white paper" and preliminary research on social capital and high ability students. The symposium was held over three days at St. Johns College at Oxford. There were 17 participants from all over the world - Japan, Hungary, South Africa , Dubai - which provided diverse and engaging conversations in an intimate setting. Each participant had time to present and answer questions. We enjoyed afternoon tea and biscuits while having conversations about work, home and research. After spending the previous summer writing and reading, I was at ease sharing with other scholars.

Providing Social and Cultural Capital 

In the foreword to my dissertation, I thank my parents for providing the social and cultural capital for me to pursue my dreams and goals. Although my daughter, Kathryn (7), had flown when she was a baby, this was her first international experience. For me, having been born overseas and traveled abroad, this was nothing new. But I was excited to provide this experience for her. We checked out books, read guides online in preparation for our trip. Much to her delight, I explained that cookies are biscuits and we would travel to London during our stay for an afternoon tea party.

We stayed the entire week in Oxford but traveled to London for two days after the symposium ended. During our stay, after one ride, she wanted to take a taxi everyday. We rode buses around Oxford (kids ride free and free Wi-Fi!), walked to the local Co-Op for a lesson on European grocery stores and visited the local museums and Oxford Castle. My child is a chicken lover - nuggets, strips, fried chicken. Before we left I told her this was a time to try new things, especially with food. I was proud of her for being willing to taste new food; even when I wanted to pass over a few things, her little voice would say "try with me mommy." While I participated in the symposium, she attend a camp for kids. Was I scared to leave her with strangers in a foreign country - yes!!! But I put her in God's hands and I knew she would be okay. The camp was at a local private school, similar to a Y camp, where she met kids from France, Africa and other parts of England. We had a dinner with a few other participants and it was a proud moment watching my daughter talk about what she was seeing and the kids she had met. The cultural activities she experienced, during our stay was priceless and examples of social and cultural capital.

Bus Ride in Oxford
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