Letter to Self V

Dear Emmanuel

It truly is a pleasure to write to you again. 

The last time we conversed, you were just about starting your PhD. What an incredible feat that is! It shall make the key theme and talking point of this letter.

Your first year went really well, you challenged yourself by staying dedicated to the writing of your literature review. You now have over 11 thousand words, look at you! That’s not bad at all if you ask me. You also managed to present your research to the public, on two occasions. I say well done to you. Keep going and don’t give up!

During this period, you have discovered the need for balance, and its consequent significances across all aspects of your life. It’s good to let you know that you have made improvements on this front, and you now pay closer attention to personal, emotional and social commitments around you.

I wish to congratulate you on the release your film: ‘To Grow a Tree‘. It has been interesting to learn of the importance of lived experience in everyday life, for international students, as well as other people in society. You are currently working on a new film which you hope to release in 2021. I would like to wish you the best on all stages of its production.

Well, this is it once more. Let me know how you get on, I look forward to receiving a letter from you soon.

Blessings

Emmanuel

Deconstructing Loneliness

The experience of loneliness is often private, yet deeply relevant. In this episode, I gather 4 other individuals with interest in the subject to share their experiences and understanding of the subject. It features contributions from David Adeola, Mabel Alkali, Andi Rusyaidi and Ade Oyeyipo.

It is split into two parts, please follow links below to stream or download:

Part One:

Stream

Download

Part Two:

Stream

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My Faith Capital

Interestingly enough, I’m a PhD student studying the role of faith in international students’ experience. This is an interesting fact because, in addition to my research, I am having to hold up a mirror of self-examination to recognise the faith at work in my own life too.

Ever since starting my PhD in September, I have been on a spiral journey, learning to handle the enormous challenge of independent research, and the responsibilities which follow. This has opened a window of opportunity for personal development, as I am confronted with academic concerns of the highest level. Because of this, I have faced many moments when I begin to wonder how I got here in the first place, or how I hope to confront my new responsibilities; and other times I go through moments of inadequacy. These struggles definitely take their toll on me and make me feel discouraged sometimes.

Nevertheless, I have always had something substantial in me that does not let inadequacy have the last say; something that always carves out a confidence and assurance of hope – and that’s my faith in Christ Jesus and his word. It is worth noting how adaptable faith is, to circumstance. As a 17-year-old international student who arrived in a strange country, with a real background of academic poverty, my challenge then was focused on: how I was going rise above my history of poor academic performance, among gifted students of about 60 countries whom I found myself surrounded by. My faith saw me through that, and seven years later, I find myself relying on that old faith while facing a new challenge.

My faith has been shaped with me over the years. It has proved to be useful as a coping mechanism, which has progressed with time and situation. I have faulted and experienced moments of fear and anxiety, because of the demands of my current position as a PhD student. I had two public presentations of my PhD research in April, and before each, I faced internal conflicts of insufficiency. On both occasions, I turned back to my faith through prayer and bible study. I held onto the bible verses: Habakkuk 3:18-19 and Romans 1:17. I can make a testimony that my faith adapted to see me through both presentations and other responsibilities of mine.

As I go on with my research, I recognise that, the Faith Capital surely is a significant enabler, worthy of personal consideration and use.

The ‘what if’ factor

Powerful moment in history, is now. 
The 'what if' factor is the lifesaver
I wish to write on,
in a humble attempt to express
its power and influence 
in everyday affairs.

Powerful moment in history, is now,
as I step out to interact with those
I attempt to avoid but cannot do without.
What if, I was wrong to avoid them in the first place? 
I now contemplate as I am shown
something too magnificent to express in words,
by those I attempted to avoid.

By Emmanuel Johnson

The nature of days

These days,
I see things take a turn here
and another there.
The straight path which once was 
creates ever-forming interlinks
I now try to make sense of.
I am conflicted.
My observation of its nature keeps me 
perplexed, as I see same and others 
hide beneath the same mask.
In the final analysis,
I realise a dedication
to get to the root of this,
and prevailing situations,
which obstruct my search,
as I continually seek meaning.

By Emmanuel Johnson

Being a PhD Student – My Experience 5 Months In

I’m a PhD student at Coventry University Centre for Global Learning: Education and Attainment, exploring Identity and Belonging, and the role of Faith in International Students’ Study. My experience at the start entailed developing better time-management, and familiarising myself with a higher standard of writing and knowledge expected at PhD level.

From a social viewpoint, the journey has been quite isolating. Socially, the University campus no longer looks like it did in the past. I find this experience new because, although I’m on a campus I am very familiar with, my focus has shifted onto a phase much higher than ever. For the first time academically, I have no ‘classmates’. This of course typifies the nature and essence of independent study. I have often compared my PhD to the idea of a marriage, and I would say to myself: ‘I’m married to my PhD and I’m more than willing to make it work!’. This, unexpectedly has boosted my motivation and drive to push on with a stronger sense of fervency and urgency.

I am currently writing my literature review. Sometimes I feel completely blank mentally; falter in will and struggle to maintain focus or generate ideas. At those times, I step out of my office and head to Holy Trinity Church which is nearby. As I’m a religious man, I sit down to pray, meditate and contemplate on matters close to my heart. Or, I take a walk around the University campus, take a seat; observe and pay close attention to my surroundings. This helps me greatly and refreshes my mind for the work ahead!

I try to achieve balance. I have discovered the need for it, whilst going through tons of readings very frequently. I participate in non-academic activities like social hangouts with friends, walks to the park, film watching and consumption, and involvement in social events.

I am glad to be here and cannot imagine doing anything else. That’s it for now, I have to get back to my literature review!

The path of the just

Faithful and trustworthy saying, 
resounded in me,
speeding past the tunnels of time 
to find me right where I am. 
Faithful and trustworthy saying, 
ingrained in me,
with all majestic hope and expectation 
from the ones who love me dearly, 
with all their heart and might,
that one day, maybe
just maybe,
it shall turn out
to be my saving grace.
How faithful,
how trustworthy,
is the path of the shining light, 
ever true,
that shines brighter and brighter, 
unto the perfect day.
Abide by it, my child.

By Emmanuel Johnson