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Back to School
Episode 197th September 2022 • Academic Aunties • Ethel Tungohan
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Back to school is usually a fun time because it signals new beginnings. But this year it feels different. Confusing and maybe a bit frightening. After two years of the pandemic, there's this sense of forced normalcy even though the pandemic is certainly not yet over. And what about the extra labour we've had to undertake over the past few years? Kind of feels like it is now our new normal.

On this episode, we talk to Dr. Kristine Alexander (@KristineAlexand) and Dr. Jennifer Mustapha (@JHMustapha) about how they are feeling about back to school.

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Thanks for listening! Get more information, support the show, and read all the transcripts at academicaunties.com. Get in touch with Academic Aunties on Twitter at @AcademicAuntie or by e-mail at podcast@academicaunties.com.



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Transcripts

Ethel Tungohan:

I'm Dr. Ethel Tungohan, an Associate Professor of Politics at York University. This week signals the start of the school year for a lot of us. And normally this is a time of excitement. Even as a professor, I always found the return to school fun because it signals new beginnings.

Ethel Tungohan:

But for many of us, this return to school feels different. It feels frightening and confusing. After two years of the pandemic, it's almost as if many institutions have decided that all of the COVID related measures that they put in place, including masking and vaccination requirements are unnecessary.

Ethel Tungohan:

On top of that, COVID related research extensions no longer apply putting added pressure to go back in the field and publish, publish, publish. It's almost like many institutions want to make up for the lost time over the last two years, forcing us back into what was normal before the pandemic. Whatever happened to calls to be more humane and caring, to slow down and appreciate what we have?

Ethel Tungohan:

You'll be hearing from two lovely aunties, Dr. Kristine Alexander or Auntie Kristine and Dr. Jennifer Mustapha or Auntie Jen. So let's get started. This is Academic Aunties.

Kristine Alexander:

As I have been every year since I started kindergarten in 1984, I'm excited about back to school outfits and new school supplies and meeting new people.

Ethel Tungohan:

That's Dr. Kristine Alexander. She's an Associate Professor of History at the University of Lethbridge. And I asked her what back to school meant for her this year. While she was feeling excited. She also admitted feeling a little bit of trepidation.

Kristine Alexander:

Despite what the Alberta provincial government and Ontario, and many others, and some university administrations are saying, the pandemic is far from over. So yeah, my partner and I caught COVID for the first time, this past summer. And I'm certainly in no rush to get it again.

Kristine Alexander:

I have to say, I don't feel entirely safe because the mask and vaccine mandates will be gone by the time I return. They were in effect for less than a year at the U of L and you know, Jason, Kenny has recently been on Twitter saying if you don't like those other universities telling you to wear mask, come to Alberta, there's no masks here.

Ethel Tungohan:

Oh my God.

Kristine Alexander:

Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. But at the same time, luckily I know the classrooms that I'm gonna be teaching in and they're pretty big. Windows don't open, but I hear from my colleagues who work in this area, that they have done things to assess and improve ventilation on campus.

Kristine Alexander:

But I did a social media post about this a while ago that I bought a portable air purifier with the idea that I would bring this with me to class and I would have it in my office. And I tried to claim it to a professional expense account, which I've used for buying binders and maybe I think a picture frame for something in my office, but it got rejected and it I've never had a claim reject so quickly. Oh, I've had claims rejected. Don't don't yeah, don't get me wrong, but this one and it basically just, I think it said, delete this claim immediately. This is a health and safety issue. If you have concerns about the air quality on this campus, contact somebody else.

Kristine Alexander:

And I just thought, oh, that's how we're gonna go. Because the terms of reference for this particular little pot of money is basically anything that will help a faculty member to do their job better, and that will help them to serve students better. And so to my mind, something that might make me and probably some of my students at least feel safer might prevent us from getting sick. That will in this changed world that we live in I think that that will help my students and I do our jobs better.

Ethel Tungohan:

I also spoke with Dr. Jennifer Mustapha. She's an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Huron College at Western University. She also talked about feeling conflicted.

Jen Mustapha:

I'm actually excited to get back to work in person, but I also have some trepidation about how it's all gonna work and how it's all gonna feel. And I feel very much like a lot of people are really excited to get back to normal.

Jen Mustapha:

And I would like to feel that way too. I just don't know that we're where we should be yet in order to feel comfortable getting back to normal. So I worry a little bit about that disconnect.

Jen Mustapha:

It feels like a bit of a whirlwind. We only just got word over the last couple of weeks of what the pandemic policies were going to be at the Western group of campuses. I was happy that they're maintaining classroom masking. I think that's really important.

Jen Mustapha:

It's an accessibility issue and that was something that was weighing on me heavily because I have care commitments. You know, I'm a sandwich generation kid and that's become even more intensified just over the last year, because I brought my parents back to Canada from where they had been living for the last 39 years, which is Malaysia.

Ethel Tungohan:

I didn't know that.

Jen Mustapha:

Yeah. And my dad unfortunately he has Parkinson's and so, you know, he's fairly high risk and my mom is also a bit high risk because she has asthma. I was stressing a little bit about being able to be front facing with a group of unmasked students several times a week. And then still feeling like I could be comfortable around my mom and dad. And then of course I'm a parent like you and I have a daughter and she's going into grade eight and when we started, um, the, the panini, as I like to call it, she was finishing up grade five.

Ethel Tungohan:

So this is what you tweeted August 23, 13.5k likes. Oh my God went viral. I'm just gonna read it out loud for our listeners, 'cause I think it was super powerful

Ethel Tungohan:

"For me, one of the biggest losses incurred in this pandemic is my once deeply held belief that most people given the right info and resources will work together to achieve common goals and want the best for one another, that most people understand that rights come with responsibilities." So you tweeted that Auntie Jen. Why do you think it resonated with so many people?

Jen Mustapha:

I mean, I was having a bad day and it was actually a couple of things that were just annoying me that day. This was right after Western did announce its policies and then predictably, there was just

Ethel Tungohan:

Yeah.

Jen Mustapha:

bullshit backlash, so called backlash.

Jen Mustapha:

And I say so called because I find that stuff is so amplified all the time, more than it needs to be, and really sets a disproportionate importance to it. Don't get me started on that. But anyway, I was annoyed by that. I was annoyed by anybody having a problem with what is really just the bare minimum at this point in a congregate work setting.

Jen Mustapha:

And then I think this was also around the time when there was discussion of the student loan forgiveness in the United States.

Ethel Tungohan:

Yes.

Jen Mustapha:

And I was just so grossed out by the sort of like obsessive need to talk about fairness in the context of forgiving people, student loans, and just, it just made me angry. And I just felt dispirited and I think there was some, I don't even remember some other thing that sort of went on and I was just like, you know, like, I like people. My husband always said that about me. He's like, you really like people. And I'm like, no, but I dislike a lot of people and he's like, no, but you like people. He's like, you like people like you, you have like an optimism about people.

Jen Mustapha:

And I'm like, well, that's probably true. But I have to say I just, I don't know anymore how much I like people. I'm sad about it. And I think that's what resonated. I think a lot of people who had that optimism at the bottom of it all are just feeling it get chipped away .

Ethel Tungohan:

Absolutely. I think in relation to the loan forgiveness thing, it was appalling to me to see the number of tweets people had about, well, I didn't have to pay that. Right. And it's like, actually, when you were in university, college was like, tuition was much cheaper. And in relation to the COVID mask mandate that Western implemented, I was actually super disillusioned too. 'Cause I saw that Western was a going viral and just the number of, kind of, you know, oh, this is anti freedom and ah, Western is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Ethel Tungohan:

And I'm just like, why is wearing a mask such a big deal, right? Like we've been doing that for the, well, I've been doing that for the last few years. Cynically, it's almost like they're saying that health isn't more important than like the revenue that students bring.

Jen Mustapha:

Yeah. And then there was the vaccine thing as well. Which is that Western is keeping it's vaccine requirement for presence on campus. And then adding the third dose as a requirement.

Jen Mustapha:

At the end of the day, I do think that it is pretty it's bare minimum, right? I mean, it's a congregate setting. I think that's what people don't seem to understand. I think a lot of the universities that aren't doing anything, they have a rationale which is somewhat reasonable, which is, you know, the health authorities and the government don't think that vaccines are necessary anymore for public settings.

Jen Mustapha:

And they don't think that masks are necessary anymore for public settings ipso facto what good will it do to instate those things on campuses. But you know, there is use, which is that it has a dampening effect. I mean, we could have a whole other conversation about everything that went wrong with communication and policy around things like what are vaccines supposed to do?

Jen Mustapha:

What is masking supposed to do? But I think one of the biggest failures in the messaging, and this is sort of reflected in my tweet is, you know, there are things that can only be done if everybody does them or if everybody participates. So the response of, well, if you are worried about your dad who has Parkinson's, then just wear a mask, but it's like, well, no. I can only protect my dad who has Parkinson's if everybody in the classroom's wearing a mask at the same time, like that's, you know, like that's where you get that exponential group effect of a lot of these social health policies.

Ethel Tungohan:

I think everything that you're saying makes me think you're also assuming the autonomous faculty member devoid of caring responsibilities. Right. And we started our conversation with you saying I'm in the sandwich generation, man. Like I need to make sure that I protect my parents, including your dad who has Parkinson's and also your child.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right? So it's these policies isn't just for individual faculty members, individual students. It's also about recognizing the communities they're in and the caring responsibilities they might have.

Jen Mustapha:

Mm-hmm . And on that note, you know, Western had one of the first documented community outbreaks associated with Western students, right?

Jen Mustapha:

So there's a precedent there for the impact that a university population can have on the rest of the London community. If I recall last year when there was a lot of discussion about the vaccine mandates and things like that, one of the talking points was, well, you can't in a city like London, that swells by thousands and thousands and thousands of students come to London every year and they have an impact on the community.

Ethel Tungohan:

Absolutely.

Ethel Tungohan:

What advice will you give faculty members, students who feel anxious about the return ? How do you think they should navigate the year ahead?

Jen Mustapha:

Well, the first thing I would say is I don't wanna discount anxiety. I've also been a little bit annoyed by the casting of these concerns into the basket of anxiety.

Ethel Tungohan:

Mm mm-hmm

Jen Mustapha:

I think, I mean, I think there are people who are legitimately experiencing anxiety about all of this, but I know I get my back up when people say, oh, I know you're anxious about going back.

Jen Mustapha:

And I'm like, I'm not anxious. I'm concerned. I'm worried. I, I feel like I want to behave responsibly.

Jen Mustapha:

Every time I see, we know that some faculty and, and members of our community are anxious and I'm like, it's not anxiety, man, to be worried about legitimate things.

Ethel Tungohan:

No. I know. I, I hear you a hundred percent. It's like, don't make it seem as though I'm just being paranoid here, right? It is a legit concern. Absolutely.

Jen Mustapha:

Absolutely. Which is actually my first piece of advice, because I feel like a lot of people who are more concerned than the baseline of everybody else's seeming kind of position on this. I want to say you're not being ridiculous. I wanna validate that. I wanna say, that you know, there's always been somebody who sort of like lurks at the entrance of the cave and looks out for the Saber-toothed tigers while everyone else is in the back having a party and finger painting.

Jen Mustapha:

And I just feel like, you know, society selects for that. There are gonna be some people who are like, oh, I don't know, man. Like, I feel like maybe we should be doing things differently. And then you hang back a little bit and you watch and you have concerns.

Jen Mustapha:

Don't feel bad for maybe being the only person who wants to wear a mask at a meeting or an event. It's very hard I understand for a lot of people to advocate for themselves in an academic professional setting, because so many of us are in either precarious positions, pre-tenure positions, or there's just interpersonal stuff that you have to navigate with colleagues.

Jen Mustapha:

But I think it's important to advocate for yourself, for your students or your colleagues where you can. So I know there's this sort of throwaway belief that students are young, they're healthy. This is really about professors, but you know, I've had students directly tell me that they have a mom at home with cancer, for example, or, they are themselves on medication that suppresses their immune system.

Jen Mustapha:

And we can't assume that we don't have students like that in our classrooms.

Ethel Tungohan:

Mm-hmm mm-hmm

Jen Mustapha:

So, I mean, as individuals, I don't think we have a lot of ability or power to singularly change policy. But in those small moments where you can, if you have a colleague who's always masking up in a small room with you, then maybe offer to wear a mask as well.

Jen Mustapha:

Or check in with your students, how are they doing? Maybe say out loud in class, like, oh, I know a lot of you are feeling like you're sick of masking, but you know, there's a lot of really good reasons to just keep doing it for now. And it's just an extra measure to help us stay here in the classroom.

Jen Mustapha:

I just also did wanna add the sort of caveat, I think it's also important to recognize that in any of these types of situations, we do have to balance those kind of interpersonal relationships with our colleagues and with our students.

Jen Mustapha:

One of the things that I became aware of halfway through the pandemic so far, is that just by making the choices that I make, I have made people uncomfortable, or I have made people feel judged.

Ethel Tungohan:

Mm.

Jen Mustapha:

And that's just by making the choices I make. So if I get invited to say something and I say, no, thank you, I'm not really comfortable with that actually yet. But thanks for the invitation. You know, there have been times when that has been received as like a rejection of what they're doing. And I can't control that. I can't always control how other people respond to me, but I think having an awareness of things like that you know, is useful. And I mean, one of the whole points of Academic Aunties, right is as like people of color in the workplace we're already navigating questions of being the difficult one or the killjoy feminist, you know, those are always in play.

Ethel Tungohan:

Yeah.

Jen Mustapha:

So I think there are times when you have to pick your battles. You have to, in order to have longevity in your career and to maintain working relationships in your career.

Jen Mustapha:

So I guess another piece of advice that I would give that I myself have had to take myself is that sometimes it's impossible to always do things exactly like how you would want to do them. And sometimes that's okay.

Ethel Tungohan:

So I can relate to both what Auntie Kristine and Auntie Jen are talking about. As much as we want it to be, the pandemic isn't over. Like Auntie Jen I have kids and I have senior parents. And when the pandemic hit, I was just starting to put my tenure file together, which if you've never done it before is pretty intense for anti Chen.

Ethel Tungohan:

She had just begun a tenure track position when the pandemic started. And it was sobering when she told me about all the things she had to.

Jen Mustapha:

I just wrote my COVID impact statement last week and seeing it all laid out that way was kind of sobering.

Ethel Tungohan:

What did you write? Like, what were some of the things that made you think, oh my goodness.

Jen Mustapha:

Yeah, I, I don't wanna bore your listeners with my tenure application, but I actually did sort of point form and I elaborated on it. So I'll just read you the points, right? So the first point is. teaching in both the 2021 and 2021-2022 academic years was exhausting. And it took up a disproportionate amount of time, right? Like there's no way we were only using 40% of

Ethel Tungohan:

No, no.

Jen Mustapha:

The second point was a little more research related, which is that my ability to articulate and map out and even plan funding for future research plans were really disrupted.

Jen Mustapha:

You know, my geographic area of research is Southeast Asia and there were plans to be going in person and things that I was supposed to be exploring. That really obviously got delayed and it just wasn't in the picture.

Jen Mustapha:

So it made it very difficult to articulate some of the things that I was interested in doing, and that was one of the things that I was like, oh yeah, I'm finally on tenure track. I can actually do these things properly. And then I wasn't able to.

Jen Mustapha:

The third point was that service commitments and stressors during this period were especially intense and our social isolation from each other made organizing a lot more difficult.

Jen Mustapha:

So I also happened to have been on the equity, diversity and inclusion committee over this period. We did Huron's first ever institution wide report on racism. So that was like, yeah, the chair of that committee, when she met with the administration, she was like, just give everybody who was on this committee, tenure.

Jen Mustapha:

Just give it to them right now. Because it was so exhausting.

Jen Mustapha:

The fourth point was that COVID has meant more care commitments, but also with fewer supports. So as a parent , you know this right, you know, we're, we're supporting learners at home at the same time that we're teaching from home and working from home.

Jen Mustapha:

And as I mentioned, I'm a sandwich generation, meaning I have care committments towards parents and my children. And I have a father with with some health issues. Then on top of that, we don't have the usual supports or hadn't had the usual supports. You know, babysitters, daycare, you know, cleaning help or things like social time with friends.

Ethel Tungohan:

Yeah.

Jen Mustapha:

Yeah. And then on a more sobering note the final point that I made is that COVID has affected me personally and I'm personally navigating some grief and some loss. I lost a very close, loved one to COVID. She was in Malaysia, uh, my cousin, my closest cousin, like a sister, cousin. And, um, yeah, I mean, I don't, I don't have to go into too many details, but the circumstances of her passing really reinforced the importance of COVID vaccines and community safety measures in congregate settings.

Ethel Tungohan:

Yeah.

Jen Mustapha:

It's just been weird. It's been weird for everybody. And then I should say too, that in the COVID impact statement, I still felt the need to explain that I'm nevertheless so aware of how extremely privileged I've been throughout the pandemic, right.

Jen Mustapha:

In terms of my living situation or access to healthcare, the socioeconomic status of my family, the ability to work from home for so much of it. And I think a lot of us have feelings of, I don't know, uh, guilt sometimes for even feeling bad.

Ethel Tungohan:

I think everything that you've just laid out there in your impact statement resonates, I'm sure, with a lot of listeners. It resonates with me and I think seeing it all laid out hits you in the face in terms of everything that you've had to go through. But like, it's also almost a sanitized version in point form.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right. Because it's like, it it's packaged really well, but you're like, actually the reality's much, much messier and it's probably more stressful. Right?

Jen Mustapha:

The other, this isn't a humble brag. It relates to everything I just said about privilege. I managed to nevertheless be fairly productive, quote, unquote, over the pandemic. A lot of the work that I do is possible to do from home remotely.

Jen Mustapha:

And so I was still able to do my job, frankly. But I wanted to express yes, I was able to do it, but this was all the stuff that was going on underneath the surface, you know, like the swan swimming peacefully, and then there's like furious paddling underneath the water.

Jen Mustapha:

I think it's important for all of us in these types of careers to just have an awareness and understanding of even if you look at someone and think they're successful or they're doing well, or they're doing everything they're supposed to be doing, there could be a lot of struggling going on as well.

Ethel Tungohan:

I suspect that for many, Auntie Jen's experience is not that uncommon. On top of that we all had to develop whole new ways of teaching and hybrid settings on the fly. Usually without institutional support. During the pandemic, our work quadrupled, some of us had to take on more labor to provide support for students and for colleagues who were distressed and needed accommodations and allowances that the institution doesn't like to give. Yet others have had to stick their necks out and speak out against an equitable policies, even when doing so comes at a risk.

Ethel Tungohan:

Time and time again, over these past few years, women and racialized scholars had to bear the burden of keeping the institution running. And I worry now that this labor of doing so much more than our contracts is just expected. This is now just part of her jobs. I aske Auntie Kristine about that. I asked her, is this now our new reality?

Kristine Alexander:

Oh, Auntie Ethel. I think that's a really important question. And I think that on the one hand, absolutely. I fully expect to be in meetings in the next several months where faculty are told essentially that this is the case. But I think on the flip side of that, and this is something that I've been thinking about a lot and has been in the news a lot lately, this notion of quiet quitting, that seems to be taking over the world, where people are basically just, you know, just fulfilling the terms of their contact. But nothing more.

Kristine Alexander:

I would say that I have seen, in what to me felt like really gratifying ways, I have seen a number of my colleagues who were really pushed to the brink in mental and physical terms by continuing to work in these really straightened crisis conditions over the past few years that I would say that I've seen, yeah, I've seen a number of my colleagues stop and step back and think, you know that this yeah, that I can't do everything and I won't do everything and basically sacrifice my wellbeing to make sure that the institution keeps running. I think that there are kind of two sides to that coin. You know, I don't love the idea of quiet quitting, 'cause it's just doing your job.

Kristine Alexander:

It's not quitting, but I think it also shows how normalized this expectation that everybody should be going above and beyond all the time to help their employer, just how normalized that is, where doing kind of the baseline things that you were hired to do. It's somehow equated with quitting.

Ethel Tungohan:

It's interesting that this discourse of quiet quitting has started to emerge over the last few weeks with a lot of kind of companies being like, oh, watch out for your employers because they're being lazy. But on the flip side to that, as you yourself mentioned, it's actually workers seizing power back and being like we're doing our jobs. You have always expected us to go beyond our contracts right now. The COVID experience has led us to realize that it ain't worth it. So we're not going to do more than what is required. Right?

Kristine Alexander:

Absolutely. And I know, well, this is something that I had hoped that we were gonna talk about at some point, and that you and I have discussed while having beer on the front porch a lot over the past few years is this idea of divesting or of divestment as a strategy that could be useful.

Kristine Alexander:

I think especially to, you know, early career faculty, but the question of tenure is tricky, but I think to everyone basically, but especially maybe equity deserving folks. You know, universities changed my life and getting a job as a professor was a dream that I had. And I'm really fortunate that that dream came true.

Kristine Alexander:

But on the other hand, I think in the pursuit of that dream, I really, I made a lot of investment. In terms of time and relationships and institutional commitments that turned out not to be maybe the best investments in terms of what kinds of returns I was getting back, or maybe I was getting negative interest on some of those investments.

Kristine Alexander:

But I think that I really also found some, some kind of useful parallels between this thinking about, you know, maybe I can divest some parts of my job. Just thinking about also that maybe the ripple effects of this whether it be, you know, agreeing to do additional uncompensated work that therefore would set a precedent that is not so good for junior colleagues. So I think that that's that well, it was my word of the year, last year, and I think it's still my word of the year in 2022.

Ethel Tungohan:

I think that you predicted quiet quitting in your use of the term divestment. I think you were clairvoyant. You knew where people were going. And I actually, listeners Kristine and I were talking about divestment because I was in a toxic work environment. And I was like, I'm putting in all of this energy, all of this work into service committees that don't seem to be receptive to what I was bringing in. And I knew that there were huge equity implications to the work that wasn't being done. And I was giving my heart and soul into it, but I kept getting pushed back. And so Kristine and I were talking about this and she said divest, which is basically such an important concept for me to remember moving forward in that it allowed me to preserve mental and emotional energy.

Ethel Tungohan:

And so whether it's divestment or quiet, quitting, I think drawing that line, drawing that boundary and knowing what actually our priorities are, was so important for me. But Auntie Kristine one thing I never did ask you, as we were talking about divestment, was there a specific moment that led you to that epiphany where you're like, I'm divesting man.

Ethel Tungohan:

What led you to do that?

Kristine Alexander:

So I would say it was it, there was a long buildup, but then there was absolutely a decisive moment and it happened in summer 2020. So you know, already into the pandemic world, and I hadn't taken, I don't think I'd taken more than four days off since I started my tenure track job in 2013.

Kristine Alexander:

Um, and as you know, also, I think kind of worrying about getting tenure. There are big expectations that come when you have a research chair. All of that stuff. And I think, especially as if you are, like I am, like a really young sounding vocal frying, uh, kind of, you know, casual dressing woman.

Kristine Alexander:

So basically I developed an inflammatory eye condition that is, uh, autoimmune. It can be caused by stress and it can make you go permanently blind if it's not treated. So for me, basically, my body said enough and I was lucky enough to be able to have a bit of space to sit back and say, okay, I'm actually gonna listen.

Ethel Tungohan:

I think these epiphanies are so hard won and throughout Academic Aunties we've had so many conversations with fellow aunties like yourself...

Kristine Alexander:

mm-hmm

Ethel Tungohan:

We're just so used to the hustle and we're used to the grind and we're used to giving all of our energies into our job, especially since we wanted to fight back against the impression that we don't belong there.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right. Like, and we also, you know, we want to change things. I mean there's like equity considerations there at play, but then when your body tells you to stop, then you have to stop.

Ethel Tungohan:

And that pause in some ways is important.

Kristine Alexander:

Yep. Absolutely.

Ethel Tungohan:

Do you have any advice to give faculty members, students heading back? Are you going to keep encouraging people to divest, to quit quietly? What should our mantra be in the year ahead?

Kristine Alexander:

Yeah, that's a really good question. So I would say, yes, I would advise all faculty members to think seriously about. About yeah. Divestment as a potential strategy that might improve your mental and physical health. But I would also say I had a conversation about exactly this, about the idea of divesting with my friend and colleague Funké Aladejebi who teaches in history at the University of Toronto.

Kristine Alexander:

And she suggested a new, an additional twist on this way of thinking that I also loved and what she said that she had done the previous year is that as you are divesting from the things that are, you know, costing you in all different ways, what will that allow you to say yes to. And so basically framing your no's and your withdrawing energy from different commitments, framing it in terms of a yes to something that you want to prioritize, something that you want to achieve, something that you think is important, whether it's in your career or your life or both somehow.

Kristine Alexander:

So I'm trying to think of what I'm saying yes to this year.

Ethel Tungohan:

I think this is really good advice from Auntie Kristine. In fact, I even made a mug with the word "divest" on it in big block letters so I remember her words. If there's a silver lining to COVID, maybe it's that it clarified what is, and isn't important in our lives professionally and personally.

Ethel Tungohan:

This was a hard one lesson for me at the height of COVID while dealing with so many family and community COVID deaths I also had to withstand workplace toxicity. I went into a dark place. Then I realized isn't it messed up. That work is adding to my stress while I am also grieving? Why am I dismissing my health, my needs? And so I realize that I cannot let the institution define me. To last in this work I should only do projects that I find meaningful with people who I find meaningful.

Ethel Tungohan:

It took COVID to make me understand the value of taking back our time, of quiet quitting, of prioritizing what matters. And I truly hope that I don't forget these lessons. I hope listeners that you don't forget these COVID related epiphanies too.

Ethel Tungohan:

I want to thank Auntie Jen and Auntie Kristine for joining us this week on academic auntie.

Ethel Tungohan:

If you want to hear more from them, you can follow Auntie Jen on Twitter at, @JHMustapha. Mustafa that's Mustapha with a "ph". And you can follow Kristine at @KristineAlexand. Check out the show notes for links of their socials.

Ethel Tungohan:

And that's Academic Aunties follow us on Twitter at @AcademicAuntie and visit academicaunties.com/support to learn about all the ways you can support the podcast.

Ethel Tungohan:

That includes becoming a Patreon supporter, which goes right into the production of this podcast this week. A big shout out to one of her newest patrons Shanti fernando. Thank you so, so, so much for your support. Today's episode of Academic Aunties was hosted by me, Dr. Ethel Tungohan, and produced by myself, Wayne Chu and Dr. Nisha Nath.

Ethel Tungohan:

Tune in next time when we talk to more academic aunties.

Ethel Tungohan:

Until then take care, be kind to yourself and don't be an asshole.