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Dr. James Alan Oloo is an assistant professor in Educational Administration, Policy and Leadership at the University of Windsor, Canada. His research explores ways of improving learning experiences for all students. Oloo’s research also seeks to better understand factors and conditions that enhance success among underrepresented students, including Indigenous students, and those from immigrant and refugee backgrounds.
Q: How have you had to adapt your work life? What has been easy/hard?
A: I am in the process of adapting to my new work life. After working at Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for close to a decade as research coordinator, I accepted a position of tenure-track assistant professor in educational administration, leadership, and policy at the Faculty of Education, University of Windsor, Ontario this summer. I am settling in this beautiful part of Canada and preparing to teach online this fall. There is a feeling of both excitement and anxiety as I start a new beginning. I am thankful that in the midst of a pandemic and some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, I have been offered a great job.
Q: What are you doing for fun?
A: Southern Ontario is an excellent place for outdoor activities. Mountain bike trails, water skiing, fishing, and excellent places to run here in Windsor, including the Riverfront trail, Little River Corridor Park and East Riverside Park. Plus, Windsor is within three hour drive to Toronto and Niagara Falls. As the province reopens, there are lots to explore – while keeping safe.
Q: How have you been keeping yourself entertained? What are you watching/reading?
A: I promised myself to read at least 10 books by African authors this year. I am getting there. Some of the books I have read include Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi; Hunger Eats a Man by Nkosinathi Sithole; A Chain of Voices by Andre Brink; Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton; and Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. A common thread that weaves through these books is that though they are classified as fiction or novels, you can see the world through them. As Fyodor Dostoevsky reminds us, “At first, art imitates life. Then life will imitate art. Then life will find its very existence from the arts.”
Q: How are you staying connected with family/friends?
A: I have family and friends across the world, and while technology has made communication easier, the suspension of international flights earlier this summer enabled me to have a deeper appreciation of staying connected. I have been using WhatsApp, Zoom, and Skype.
Q: Advice for current SFU students during this time of physical distancing?
A: I work with teacher candidates and some of my students are parents at the University of Windsor, and I can relate to what SFU students are going through. There are more questions than answers regarding the return to school this fall, whether schools will be safe, and if teacher candidates will complete their practicums as planned. Physical distancing is necessary, but it is not without its challenges. My advice is for SFU students to be kind, patient, and empathetic towards themselves, each other, and their professors. Also, take time for self-care. This too shall pass.