Deconstructing Faith


Faith is a topic of interest for myself and many others. I was interested in bringing people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to discuss this. Represented in this discussion are Irish, Greek, British, Indonesian and Nigerian nationalities. And Christian, Muslim, Atheist and Agnostic beliefs.

This discussion features perspectives from David Adeola, Dionysios Deligiannis, Mabel Alkali, Farhana Lunat, Anna Hetherington, Andi Rusyaidi, Lanaire Aderemi and Emmanuel Johnson.

Please see links below to stream our download or audio discussion.




PhD Research Profile


I’m Emmanuel Johnson. I am a Cultural thinker, filmmaker, Christian and Poet. I am a 2nd year PhD student at Global Learning: Education and Attainment (GLEA). My research explores lived experiences of international students, using themes of faith, identity, belonging and performance as key focal points into this phenomenon. This shall make the basis for this written post.

It all started in Abuja, Nigeria for me, which is where I was born – on 12 November 1994. Being a PhD student at 24 years of age means I get called both young and ‘old’, depending on who I speak to. I find that very interesting!

Though I was born in Abuja, my family left the city only a few months later, as we relocated to Lagos, Nigeria. We spent a couple of years there and moved again to Uyo, Nigeria, which is also my ancestral city (where both of my parents and their great-grand parents and more hail from). In 2012, at the age of 17, I made my own relocation to Cambridge, UK, for University foundation study at EF Cambridge. I was enrolled in an international school with students from over 60 countries. A year later at 18 years of age, I started studying Media and Communications at Coventry University. Through this course, I started to learn that ‘things aren’t really as they appear to be in the world’. These experiences of sojourn, and their consequent sub-experiences, kick-started something that would later become very relevant to me, which is ‘the reality of internationalisation’.

The reality of internationalisation has become personalised to me. From my experience, this reality entails: not really having a physical/tangible sense of ‘home’ which is fixed, to hold onto; always being in a state which sees you missing someone who is physically elsewhere; being seen as ‘different’ by those of similar national and ethnic origin as you, or seeing your nation and/or ethnicity differently, because of your experience of internationalisation.

These experiences and more raise internal questions such as: where is home? Who am I becoming? And, what do my added experiences and knowledge mean for me, as I continue to navigate the society around me. My research attempts to deconstruct these questions.

Deconstructing Belonging

The idea of belonging is deconstructed in this episode, and several hidden interrelated themes are identified and discussed.

This discussion features contributions from Dr Arinola Adefila, David Adeola, Mabel Alkali, Farhana Lunat, Emmanuel Johnson and Andi Rusyaidi.

See links below to listen/download.


Part one




Part two



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.



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:



Part Two:



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.