Laya Behbahani is a PhD student at SFU’s School of Communication researching human trafficking, slavery and forced labour in the Gulf states of the Middle East. Laya is also the Director of the Student Experience Initiative and a Sessional Lecturer in Labour Studies. She lives and works as an uninvited guest on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the west coast.


Q. How have you had to adapt your home life? What has been easy/hard?
It’s been really challenging adapting to working from home because I have a 2.5-year-old daughter who wants me to play with her all the time. I also miss seeing my colleagues, students and faculty members. That being said, I’m really relishing the moments I have with my daughter now where I get to see her wake up in the mornings and eat and play throughout the day. There are some positive aspects to working from home.

Q: What are you doing for fun?
 My husband, daughter and I play basketball after work most days, inspired by Michael Jordan and the Netflix show, Last Dance.

Q: How have you been keeping yourself entertained? What are you watching/reading?
 The best time for me is when I’m with my family, especially my daughter and my husband. We play sports, paint, read and garden together. I’m also loving a book that I’m reading by Neha Vora called Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s Indian Diaspora.

Q: How are you staying connected with family/friends?
 We visit my parents once a week and I stay in touch with friends over various online platforms.

Q: Advice for current SFU students during this time of physical distancing?
During the isolation period, I think it’s easy to forget that many of us are fortunate to have security, safety and resources that others do not, so perhaps take some time out each week and learn about people, their struggles and ways you can position yourself to help someone else out and contribute back. I think this time is an opportunity for us to reflect back on how we’re building respectful and reciprocal relationships with the world around us, and that includes not just with the people around us but also the environment around us.

Q: Anything else you would like to say?
My hope is that we take this opportunity to re-image a better world where no one is left behind. It’s easy to forget that everyone has a story that matters when you’re not seeing people face to face and you’re surrounded by the echo chambers of social media that erase some stories or render them ‘less important.’ So I remind myself first and my communities around me to care for others and be kind to others and stand up for others even when it’s to our detriment because everyone’s right to a dignified life and survival is part of the possibilities of a re-imagined world.