Identity Management

One of the toughest things about my journey since I came to the United States has been managing my varying identities. About a year after I arrived here, I became a wife and mother. Then I went back to school to get my degrees. I was still a second-language learner at the time – I  still am by the way, so forgive me for any errors that you see – trying to manage being all the other “people” in different contexts.

I am not saying that other people don’t have to manage varying identities. But I am experiencing a different phenomenon because of technology.

Since I moved to Bakersfield, I maintained a website. Because I found a great deal for my domain name, I was able to maintain a professional looking website with a personalized domain. But the site was mostly for my students who wanted to know what was going on in my class while they were absent. No one other than my students looked at my website, so I had to keep it looking friendly toward my population of high schoolers.

I spent about two years maintaining it as a class website, accumulating various artifacts along the way. However, I am starting to see that my website needs to be a professional website to help me cultivate a more sophisticated online presence. Since attending the 2013 DML Conference, it has beoame clear to me that I need to put my ideas about education and my project out in the world, so that people can read about them if I ever wanted to be considered seriously as a researcher and a doctoral student. At the same time, I still need a student friendly website for my students.

But how does one maintain that separation? I can barely find the time to write a class blog. Now I want to write about my research interest and my readings while writing all of that for the forums so I can pass my own classes at Pepperdine.

I suppose sleep is for the weak? But seriously. Someone find me more time! Please!

Dr. Nicole Pinkard

I met an amazing lady this week. Actually, I met several amazing people this week at the 2013 Digital Media and Learning Conference. I met Tracy Edwards from Pepperdine EDLT Cadre 15, who I began working with since October. I also met Akili Lee, the amazing Director of Digital Strategy and Development of the Digital Youth Network, and Asia Robeson, the Media Arts Coordinator and Mentor. But I was the most touched and inspired by Dr. Pinkard, who pulled me out of my insecurities with a couple of statements, and I thank my lucky star for having had the opportunity to meet her.

During a conversation about my peer-to-peer mentoring project, I said to Dr. Pinkard, “I don’t know anything. I am just a teacher, but that’s just what I think.” She gently reminded me with the warmest smile, “A man would never say that. So you need to quit. You have had to overcome a lot. If a person can’t respect you, it’s their problem, not yours.” She made me stand up straight and be proud of myself with her gentle encouragement. When I shared my desire to pursue the peer-to-peer mentoring project as my doctoral dissertation, she said, “The intent of the Digital Youth Media has always been for others to use it to do more research. No one person can do all the research. I am happy to help you pursue it.”

Then I found out more about her after the conference. A Stanford and Northwestern graduate, she is considered a leading expert in youth digital media. She even has a gigantic Wikipdia page with so many awards! So imagine my surprise how she didn’t dismiss me while I went on and on about how my idea of peer mentoring can make her “good” social media website “amazing.” Despite her status as an expert in the field, she was so open to listening to all my ideas. She truly is an amazing teacher. I can’t wait to work with her some more.

A Lesson from the Olympics

Every time I watch the Olympics, I am impressed by so many great athletes and their incredible accomplishments. But I am also equally impressed by all the parents who sacrificed so much for their children. Even though I always thought that, it didn’t really hit me until my own son began to participate in sports.

This past summer, Gabriel – my oldest – decided to join Cross Country, which meant 5 a.m. runs for five days a week. Since he didn’t have a driver’s license, my husband got up every morning at 4:30 to take him to practice. By the end of the summer, Gabriel was getting better at running. He says now he enjoys running which he didn’t before.

Just this morning, when I saw the report that Ryan Lochte’s parents are facing foreclosure, I thought about my own son and his 6 weeks of participating in Cross Country. It has been well documented that most all Olympic swimmers began swimming at the age of 5 or 6. Thinking back on our 6 weeks, I can just imagine how many hours these parents spent on the road.

But this makes me really think about how much parental sacrifice is required for so much greatness. I think about how many other children with equal talent don’t get to do what Ryan Lockte has done because there is no one to drive them to the pool at 4 a.m. The athletes have to do the work, but some don’t even get the chance!

And that’s not it at all. Kids also need help from countless others. Just yesterday, I saw four teachers who stayed up all night with my son and his friends during an ASB lock-in at the school, so that the students can have a fantastic year filled with exciting activities. The kids – including my own son – will probably get into prestigious universities because they had this experience as leaders at their school. Without all the help from volunteering teachers, who don’t get paid any extra money for their time way from their own families, these children’s chance of becoming successful later in their lives will certain diminish.

I am sure Ryan Lockte will help his parents because it is what any decent human being will do for his parents. After all, he is an Olympic champion! And I sincerely hope his example will serve others in how to graciously share one’s successes with people who have made enormous sacrifices for you to become a success: parents, teachers, and coaches. After all, they have helped us get wherever we are literally – by driving us to a 5 a.m. practice and by being at the practice with you – as well as figuratively.

Of course, I am so very proud of my own son for showing up to practice for 6 weeks straight and all the other fantastic athletes for their amazing accomplishments. But they didn’t do it alone. I hope they act like they truly appreciate it.

Now if only Gabriel gets his driver’s license, so he can drive himself to practice at 5 a.m.!