by Annie Dubois

Reyila Hadeer, a doctoral student in the College of Education, is fostering discussions about the role of globalization in academia and shining a light on diverse college experiences through her documentary-style video series, “Global Citizen Diaries.”

“Global Citizen Diaries” features undergraduate and graduate students across all backgrounds, and conversations capture a range of topics, from the pandemic’s impact on lifestyle to Bi/Multilingual families.

Hadeer is working on the “Global Citizen Diaries” project as a Graduate Fellow at The Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology at MSU. Through the fellowship, graduate students complete a research, writing, outreach, or creative project that explores new, human-centered methods of teaching and learning.

“During my Hub grad fellowship experience, I got to closely work with different units on MSU campus beyond my own department, which helped me to see different work cultures, practice my collaboration skills, and expand my professional network,” Hadeer said. “I always wanted to start my own podcast program to create a communication platform on topics that I deeply care about. The MSU Hub gave me that opportunity.”

By prompting students to reflect on their major, job opportunities, and resources they’ve encountered on campus, Hadeer aims to encourage listeners to overcome their fears about pursuing their goals and help students discover resources that will lead them to actualizing their passions.

“Everyone’s personal knowledge is a missing part of a larger puzzle,” Hadeer said. “I knew that if I gave this platform for people to talk about their educational experience, it would become a space to learn from each other, engage in conversation, and share resources.”

Although students shared vastly different experiences throughout the interviews, a pattern emerged: students across all backgrounds mentioned the tendency to follow a strict timeline and stick to classes inside their major. Participants also expressed another commonality —  the desire to be accepted.

“I noticed that everybody is striving for a loving environment,” Hadeer said. “Everyone mentioned that they wanted to be surrounded by love. Everyone wants to be in a place where people will not judge them, and they will be understood and supported. That’s something that is mentioned in every episode in different ways.”

As a student with unique academic experiences herself, Hadeer understands this desire just as well as her interviewees, which inspired her to delve into the topic in the first place. As an international student from a multicultural region in Northwest China, she comes to the table with a fresh perspective and the will to break down barriers typically placed on international students.

“As an international student, I notice that I am often subconsciously internalizing certain labels,” Hadeer said. “I am afraid that it’s not easy for me to find a job, or that I cannot do certain things, or that it’s a luxury for me to pursue my passions. Often, those labels block you from discovering yourself.”

Hadeer also offers a unique perspective from her childhood growing up in a diverse community. Hadeer is Uyghur, a large ethnic minority group within China with its own language and culture. Throughout her childhood in China, Hadeer navigated these two different languages and cultures, which is something that sparked her interest as she grew older and eventually pursued an undergraduate degree in journalism.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Hadeer attended Colorado State University for her master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Once she graduated, she moved to Phoenix, Arizona to teach at a K-8 school. There, Hadeer was reminded of her childhood and the cultural diversity she experienced. Encountering different regional cultures across both China and the United States fed Hadeer’s curiosity about globalization’s effect on education, eventually leading her to pursue a Ph.D. at MSU.

“I started to become more interested in the bigger picture of my teaching experiences,” Hadeer said. “I wanted to put together the pieces and start to explore issues of globalization using topics from my own culture and issues in the United States. I noticed there is a lot of discussion about race and diversity, and I had similar experiences in China, so I like to explore the differences and similarities and try to make sense of my past experiences as well.”

"Global Citizen Diaries" is a way for Hadeer to showcase the way globalization influences education through the stories her interviewees tell. As the project moves into its second season, Hadeer hopes to narrow her podcast to special topics like social justice.

“Whether you are an international student or a domestic student, or any categories you identify yourself with, I hope people know that they are free to pursue their own passions and I hope they aren’t influenced by labels that people put on them,” Hadeer said. “Go inward, go inside yourself to see what you’re interested in and find resources to explore that. Everyone is an expert.”

To listen to conversations from and learn more about the Global Citizen Diaries project, visit the project website, and to learn more about the Graduate Fellowship program within The Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology at MSU, visit the program website.