Faith is central to me. This stems from a background deeply rooted in the belief of there being more to life than what my natural eyes see. Living, experiencing and exploring the world have constructed the manner in which I approach situations, experiences and ideas.
It is an essential element of my life because it carries within it, a demonstration of how I ought to go about living – dashing across professional and societal aspects, to the most ordinary of practises and rituals within the everyday life of Emmanuel. It characterises my lifestyle, orders my steps and motivates me to improve upon myself.
As I am an individual of faith, looking into how faith helps international students navigate their studies, I realise this would undoubtedly shape the way I approach my PhD research. My perspective is centred on my background as a Christian Nigerian man looking into ways of life different to mine. In addition to that, I am one who has experienced substantial cultural refinement, having studied in diverse UK campuses since 2012, learning and unlearning some presuppositions. Thus, my standpoint diverges against its own self. My interaction with others, and thus considerations about research design, including data collection methods must be undertaken with empathy, tolerance and understanding – bearing in mind at all times that cultures present people with different ways of perceiving the world – ways unique to them, and them alone.
The focus, therefore, is on my ability to use my background in exploring others efficiently; researching and critiquing, in order to draw up findings impactful and true to myself and others.
I am interested in exploring how faith contributes to the academic experience of international students. In this, my faith shall act as an avenue for me to explore identity and difference, zooming in on the reality of being an international student of faith in British Higher Education.
As a result of my faith, I am mindful of difference in viewpoints between my participants and me. I am more than willing to maintain researcher integrity; by being non-judgemental about other perspectives and acknowledging feelings and opinions contrary to mine.
As I undertake this research, the question for me becomes: how can my faith guide, inspire and contribute to my research output?