Crystal Li

"I chose SFU mainly because of the program I am in, which compared to other TESL/TEFL programs, has some unique advantages."

Hi all! I am an international student from Beijing, currently in the TEFSL M.Ed. program at SFU. In academia and professional life, I consider myself as a scholar (according to Charles Scott!) who is responsible, curious and serious about the field of education, a present Chinese teacher, future English and Chinese teacher, and a life long learner.

Luckily, I am enjoying the growth and transformations that occur in this program. The issues that I care about in Education (e.g., equity and equality, power relations, teacher and student identity) are discussed a lot in our program, which offers spaces for me to develop. I really appreciate it.

What attracted you to come to SFU?

I chose SFU mainly because of the program I am in, which compared to other TESL/TEFL programs, has some unique advantages. First, we are a “cohort”, which means most of us are attached to each other, work collaboratively and grow together. Second, we have field work, which enables us to go to Canadian schools, (public schools and TESL institutions) to observe and practice the theories and ideologies we learn in class, mingling them into “praxis” (praxis, a very important norm we learnt from Ena Lee’s class, which is the valuable interaction between theory and practice). Besides, SFU is an enjoyable place to be as well as a beautiful campus located in beautiful British Columbia, except the few times when the lovely raccoons may come too close!!

Who is a faculty member that you enjoyed working with at SFU and why?

Honestly, I learnt from all the teachers so much more than I could articulate. So far I learnt the most from Dr. Ena Lee. She is very open to her students; you have the feeling that you can reach her whenever you need, (including sending her an email in 2 am and receiving a reply in 5 minutes!). Professionally, she is very knowledgeable, but she seldom lectures; instead, she facilitates and inspires learning in students. Before having her as my instructor, I had theories that I thought were right and should be put into teaching practice. Ena, not only teaches us knowledge but also practices her teaching knowledge and philosophy in everyday teaching, as “image text”. I have learnt so much by making her my role model.

At the end of the semester, Ena and I had a conversation after a facilitation activity in class and I felt down about the experience. She encouraged me to move upwards and forwards, instead of continuing in a low mood and not being productive. She also taught us the importance of reflecting constantly about our practice, and how to make it better. That is so true not only in academia but also in life, isn’t it?

Please allow me to say, I also learnt a great deal from the following teachers: I learnt from Dr. Sepideh Fotovatian, (who is not only our instructor, but also our coordinator) that sometimes encouraging and believing in students is more important than anything else.

I learnt from Dr. Charles Scott, whom is kind, firm, and energetic every time we saw him, that one could be a dreamer and a practitioner at the same time, giving endless help and support academically and emotionally to his students.

I learnt from Dr. Rhonda Philpott that being a teacher means thinking about issues as big as the universe while carefully examining the details as if they are as tiny as a grain of sand.

I learnt from Dr. Roumi Illieva that hard work, critical thinking and a serious attitude could make a change in academia.

And I also am certain that I will learn more valuable and treasured things throughout my program from my instructors, not only from the lessons they will give us, but also from them personally as professional, caring educators.

What would you say to prospective students who are considering graduate studies in Education at SFU?

I would like to say that the graduate programs in Education at SFU, are a part of one of Canada’s leading Faculties of Education. You can find a home for your particular interests among the specialized areas of study. You are also choosing a place where you can study your interests and inquiries in education in a welcoming community. There are a number of activities and opportunities for graduate students to get to know each other better and support each other as well.                                                      

Do you have other things to share?

I found out that as a graduate student, it is really important to stay open, so that new perspectives and different voices can also be appreciated. Never be afraid to talk to teachers and fellow students whenever you are curious, confused or feeling overwhelmed. It is crucial to know and to practice that: we are not alone. Creating a safe environment for yourself and other people to grow can offer you support and confidence, which is essential to graduate students.