Tag Archives: Birkbeck

“Don’t call me El Chapo!”

Azucena Garcia Gutierrez has made it her mission to represent the very best of Mexican culture to the rest of the world. This is her #BBK Grad story.

This is a photo of Azucena Garcia Gutierrez

Growing up in Toluca, a city close to Mexico City with parents who didn’t graduate but who still provided for their small family has given Azucena a perspective on life which has her always returning to her humble beginnings.

With just one sibling, the two had spent practically all their lives side by side so when Azucena decided to leave Mexico to study MA Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, it left her stunned and a little lost. Not surprisingly, her sister would go on to also study languages.

Seeing first-hand the misconceptions that prevail about Mexico was part of Azucena’s culture shock throughout her international travel: “People would shout out ‘El Chapo!’ They had a view of Mexico which concerned me. When I was growing up as a teenager, it was very safe. But I realise the situation with crime is bad now; but that is not the only thing we have to share with the world.”

At Birkbeck, she would make every effort to explain the best parts about Mexico: the diversity and richness of the country, wanting to show others “what Mexicans are made of.” She applauds Birkbeck for its encouragement of international community and the support of students who comprise that. Azucena is both a Chevening scholar and the winner of the Michel Blanc prize for best MA dissertation and credits both with supporting students, like her, from around the globe.

Whilst lamenting the fact that indigenous languages are dying out in Mexico, Azucena also recognises the value in being able to speak English, seeing this “open doors for so many, including myself.” It was just fifteen years ago, at the age of 18 years, that she made the decision to be an English language teacher. She had previously learnt English at secondary school and found it hard at first, especially since her first teacher was American and spoke very fast.

It’s that experience and understanding which now crosses over into her own teaching of English. She witnesses students who are challenged with learning English as their second language but is fervent in her teaching and reinforces the message that the hurdles of learning another language, especially English, must be overcome in order to reach one’s aspirations.

For her beloved home country of Mexico, this is a matter which is even more paramount. With the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently citing Mexico as the second most unequal country, education reform is a critical matter Azucena wishes to address. She says, “Education means hope for Mexico. When the people of a country are well educated, things will improve, it will shape better citizens and give them a thirst for knowledge which will contribute to a better country.”

Azucena returned to Mexico in February and is working on progressing her career in Education, using learnings from her time spent at Birkbeck and the contact with people of different mindsets to apply to her homeland in a meaningful way. She sees it as her duty to contribute to the education and social landscape in Mexico to improve the country’s academic and economic standing and in turn its international reputation.

Find out more about the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication.

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Crossing borders to explore new horizons

Carolyn Stillman travelled to the UK from the USA to complete a degree in Language Teaching/ Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL) (MA) at Birkbeck, and used her time to travel and throw herself into a different way of life. This is her #BBKgrad story.

Carolyn Stillman After having completed a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education in the USA, Carolyn decided that she wanted to expand her horizons and take on a Master’s in the UK. When looking around for options of where she could study, Birkbeck stood out as an ideal choice for what she needed because of the flexibility that evening study gave her.

“One of my room mates mostly worked nights so we would leave at the same time so I had time to see her during the day. I did not have classes on Fridays so I had more time if I wanted to travel over the weekend – one time we took a weekend trip to Ireland.

“Also, if I wanted to work on assignments, it was really helpful when I had the big essays due to have time during the day to research and get those finished.”

During her time in the UK, Carolyn faced the challenge of homesickness. “I was there with barely anybody, I had my boyfriend, but I had met him before I came to London and he lived in Newcastle, which is three hours away. If I wanted to see him, he would have to come down during the weekend or I would have to go up there. So, at first, when I came to London, I didn’t have anyone, I didn’t have my mum obviously, I didn’t have any of my friends and it was such a time difference so homesickness was my biggest challenge because it was just me by myself for the most part.”

Despite the difficulty she first had to adjusting to a new country, Carolyn was able to overcome her homesickness through a mix of time and building connections with people. “I met people on my course at Birkbeck that I was pretty close to and we would hang out, and I had my boyfriend. I had to get over the initial shock of being on my own in another country but I loved it either way, it was hard at first but I still loved it.”

She fondly recalls the small class sizes at Birkbeck which differed from the 100 person classes she experienced during her undergraduate degree. “It was really intimate, so we all got to build off of each other and do different activities and those were my favourite classes.”

When the pandemic hit, Carolyn was finishing up her classes and she recalls it being hard going from in-person to online learning, but she was grateful that all the online videos were easy to access.

Having completed her Master’s, Carolyn is back in the US where she has resumed her teaching career, a job which she hopes to continue now that she has the knowledge she gained from her course. “I have a couple of students at the moment and English isn’t their first language. The course has helped me a lot with coming up with different modifications to lessons.”

Carolyn also hopes to be able to travel more once the pandemic subsides and hopefully, one day, return to the UK to teach. In the meantime, she’s telling everyone she knows about Birkbeck: “I really enjoyed Birkbeck, I talk about it all the time! People are really interested in hearing about it whenever I bring it up and I don’t regret it at all, I loved my time in London.”

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Welcoming the year of the Ox

Di Luo, Chair of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at Birkbeck, reflects on this year’s virtual Chinese New Year celebration that took place on 15 February and what hopes the group has for the year of the Ox.

An ox hanging with some ornamentsThe year of the Ox began on Friday 12 of February 2021, and this is an especially exciting new year, as people all around the world cannot wait to say goodbye to the year of the Rat in which we have suffered heavily and lost due to the strike of COVID-19. The Ox is the second of the 12-year periodic sequence of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar, it represents values of reliability, strength, patience, and trustworthiness. People from all around the world have wished and hoped to see that this new year will start a new chapter in life and will defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday 15 February 2021, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at Birkbeck University of London (BBK CSSA) hosted an online gathering event to spread good wishes to everyone and start to recruit its new community members. All students and scholars from all cultures and countries are welcome to join BBK CSSA.

Students and staff who attended the event were invited to share their new year wishes and targets, not surprisingly, after a long lockdown, everyone jointly wished to meet each other and come back to campus again once it is safe to do so. Indeed, since the first lockdown was issued by the UK government on 16 March 2020, the year of the Rat has been a memorable one for all of us. Students cannot attend school, people have to work from home, COVID-19 has physically separated us. However, distance cannot stop our hearts from growing closer and cannot stop our kindness and wishes. This is also one of the small goals that BBK CSSA hoped for its online gathering event on 15 February 2020.

Games and awards were also organised during the online event to bring more joy and fun. One of the games was to guess the correct Chengyu from the emojis. Chengyu is a type of traditional Chinese idiomatic expression, most of which consists of four characters. Although they are widely used in Classical Chinese, but still very common in today’s Chinese speaking and writing.

One of the new year’s wishes that the BBK CSSA makes is that everyone can “niuqi chongtian” in the year of Ox. This is one of the most popular new year blessings Chengyu that every Chinese person says to each other. “Niuqi Chongtian” refers to the spirit of the Ox and means that with a strong faith in conquering any difficulties and challenges, life and work will both be awesome. BBK CSSA believes the spirit of the Ox will certainly bring the most blessings for the year of 2021 for us to look forward and move on. All the challenges and difficulties that we have had in 2020 are now in the past, we will not forget those precious things and the loved ones we lost. Our faith in life will not be stopped by this pandemic! Lastly, BBK CSSA wishes everyone in the year of 2021 “Niuqi Chongtian”!

 

 

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Department of Management Welcomes Professor Vijay Pereira for first Meet the Editor Session

The Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Business Research and Global Real Impact Editor for the Journal of Knowledge Management joined the Department for a virtual presentation on how to publish in top management journals.

Meet-the-Editor Sessions are free for anyone to join.

Screenshot of the group meeting for the Meet the Editor session

Dr Muthu De Silva (top left) and Dr Geoff Walters (top right) introduced this presentation by Professor Vijay Pereira (bottom left).

Dr Muthu De Silva, Director of Research and session chair opened the discussion by sharing the objective of the Meet the Editor series: to motivate and support our community of excellent scholars to thrive in research, during this difficult time.

While we are all missing face to face contact with colleagues across Birkbeck and beyond, it has to be said that lockdown has presented opportunities to be more creative and geographically ambitious with events in the School of Business, Economics and Informatics, as Dr Geoff Walters, Executive Dean reminded the audience during the welcome speech. Around fifty researchers in the field of Management tuned in to this online talk by Professor Vijay Pereira of NEOMA Business School, France, designed to provide greater insight into the types of research that top management journals are looking to publish.

As Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Business Research and Global Real Impact Editor for the Journal of Knowledge Management, as well as a member of the editorial board for a number of other journals (e.g. Journal of Management Studies), Professor Pereira has extensive knowledge of prestigious publications, commenting on the ‘outside the box’ thinking that he brings to academia and the journals on which he works.

In this session, Professor Pereira provided a detailed introduction to the ethos and outlook of the Journal of Business Research and the Journal of Knowledge Management, along with his advice for those looking to publish in these journals.

Journal of Business Research

The Journal of Business Research (JoBR) is a UK ABS 3* and ABDC ‘A’ journal. Firstly, Professor Pereira highlights the importance of understanding the scope of the journal in which you wish to publish. In the case of JoBR, in addition to the theoretical rigour, the journal aids the application of empirical research to practical situations and theoretical findings to the reality of the business world. This practical underpinning is reflected by JoBR’s broad target audience, which includes executives alongside scholars and researchers.

JoBR has a somewhat unique organisational structure, with two Editors-in-Chief, three to four Deputy Editors-in-Chief, five Special Issue Editors and 65 Associate Editors covering sixteen discipline areas – this number is large but unsurprising considering that JoBR receives 4,500 -5,000 submissions a year! While publication is competitive, the journal’s 6% acceptance rate represents a significant number of papers, so Professor Pereira warns not to be discouraged from applying.

There are three key points to consider when submitting to JoBR:

  1. The quality of the theory
  2. Robust data or concepts
  3. Real-world implications for business or management situations

There are also three key points to consider in terms of the journal’s positioning:

  1. JoBR is international in scope, looking for work from new contexts and new scholars and continuing to grow globally
  2. The journal has moved from being marketing focused to being interdisciplinary covering a wider range of management disciplines, such as international business and innovation
  3. JoBR has a key focus on impact – it is the number one cited marketing journal according to Google Scholar’s H Index

Keeping the three I’s of international, interdisciplinary and impactful in scope is key for researchers submitting to this journal.

Journal of Knowledge Management

In the second part of this presentation, Professor Pereira discussed the Journal of Knowledge Management, a leading journal in this field with an ABS 2* and ABDC ‘A’ rating.

To Professor Pereira’s knowledge, the Journal of Knowledge Management is the first journal to have a Global Real Impact Editor and has also recently appointed Regional Real Impact Editors.

Putting impact at the front and centre of the work it looks to publish, the Journal of Knowledge Management invites pieces by scholars, academics and individuals from industry. It is similarly international in scope, with articles from China, India, Brazil, France and the UK in the pipeline. The journal looks to maximise the diversity of its output without compromising on quality, and a focus on impact from the beginning of the process enables it to do this.

A focus on the practical impact and applicability of research is therefore key when submitting to this journal.

We would like to thank Professor Pereira for his time and for an insightful and informative start to our Meet the Editor Series. All are welcome to join us for our upcoming Meet the Editor events:

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