April 10, 2011

They Really Need Some Mega-Fauna Here

Near Lake Pukaki en route from Mt. Cook National Park
 I struggle a little bit with reading retension at times.  If I'm not careful and deliberate, all the reading that I do just doesn't stick in my brain. This can be a problem for a PhD student.  So I have all sorts of tricks. I highlight, take notes in the margins, type up notes, and periodically summarize readings on a particular topic. It's incredibly time-consuming; but I seem to get there in the end. After a bit of internet research several months ago, I added a few new tricks to my routine. When approaching a new reading, I write down 5 terms I know will be in the reading. I read the title, all subtitles and then the conclusion first. Prior to reading the article, I write 3 sentences reflecting what I already know on this topic.

This last one is based on the idea that, as humans, we remember and make sense of new information by comparing it or adjoining it to something we already know. We all do this all the time. But, migrants in particular, vigorously engage in this process, especially in the early months or years in a new country. We've all done it and certainly heard others do it - for example, chipping in to a conversation with the phrase, "Well, where I come from, it's common to..."  Migrant research shows that a continual, subtle comparison between 2 places lasts for an immigrant's entire life. It's how migrants create continuity - across oceans, over time and between what would otherwise feel like disparate lives and selves.