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Challenges of Becoming a Scholar

Thuy Do, PhD Student

July 04, 2018

I remember my field trip for the research on internal migration in a village in Mekong Delta where I witnessed early mother- child separation. Due to extreme poverty and lack of work opportunities, many mothers leave home to work in Ho Chi Minh while their children stay with fathers, grandparents or relatives. I felt so emotional though I understand why these women have to leave family behind to assure survival of loved ones. Then I thought of my own situation and how lucky and privileged I am.  I did leave my beloved ones, family, friends, and an exciting teaching university position to complete a doctoral degree here in Canada. It has been more than one year that I made the decision, but it is still fresh and I believe this is for the best, for me and for my loved ones. I remember my tears and loads of emotion when I was leaving my children and husband.  Although traveling as a researcher and lecturer was not an unfamiliar experience for us, this one was and still is different and confusing at times.  Before coming to Canada, my two teenage children had never been so close to their father. Therefore, I made sure that I talk and connect with them every day. Yet, my heart was heavy because I felt mothering from distance comes with additional level of emotions and load. There were many situations that left me in tears and sorrow and I wanted to fly back home. However, giving up a dream was not a thing in my plan, and I did my best for self, children, and family to adjust to adapt and overcome the challenges.  And I am very happy to see that we could successfully pass the challenges of the first year staying apart. After the first month, I managed to focus on study and research; and my children also did adjust to get along well with their father. My daughter is doing well in school, my son is acting mature, and my husband who had never been in charge of household duties is doing an excellent work taking care of our family. The achievements we made during the past year taught me a lesson that my family members do not need me as much as I thought. They could live happily and do everything for their lives without me being there.  PhD journey is just started and I am sure successes and accomplishments will come through. This is my story and I would not generalize it to all women but I hope all the best for all women who want to make big and meaningful decisions.