You may remember Dr. Gulara Vincent from featuring my story about MiddleMe in her The Story Behind The Story series, as well as her fantastic guest post about Work After Maternity Leave. She has been such an inspiration to me and I really admire her because as a mother, writer, and university law lecturer, she is a strong positive woman who wears many hats and is a role model to many young people. I am honored to have her here as a special guest for an interview.
Welcome back again to MiddleMe, Dr. Gulara. You’re certainly no stranger to us here.
So please, share with the readers here, who is Dr. Gulara?
Thank you for having me back! I loved the warm welcome your readers gave me during my past two experiences. As to who I am, I struggle to answer this question. There are many obvious ‘labels’, of course. As you mentioned, I’m a mum of two wonderful children. I’m a writer and blogger, who aspires to inspire readers, especially women who’ve been silenced one way or another in their lives. I’m also a university law lecturer. I’ve been teaching human rights law since 2001, first in Azerbaijan and later in England. I’m currently on maternity leave and building my own business. I offer inner healing to women who are stuck with a creative project or want to make a living from their writing or other creative endeavors. Underneath all of these obvious labels, I’m a person who is passionate about learning, healing and transformation. I have diverse interests, such as singing in a local choir, doing tai-chi, dancing Five Rhythms and playing the violin.
I understand that you are a lecturer at the University of Birmingham in England and you are resuming your position in March 2016 after your maternity leave. Congratulations! So what do you teach and what’s your specialization?
I’ve been teaching European Law, Human Rights Law and several other courses for a number of years now. My Ph.D. thesis (2006-2010) was about the rights of minorities in Europe, groups which ended up splitting from their main nationality as the result of the division of borders after the world wars and the collapse of Soviet rule. To give you an idea of minority rights, here’s an example: the Reverend Zsigmond Csukas was a Hungarian man who lived in Samorin, a town with a large Hungarian minority in Slovakia. He was born in 1918, and by 1993 he had five nationalities … without ever leaving his home town. How? Well, every time the borders changed, he acquired a new passport. But did he and the rest of his town had to give up their language, religion and culture every time the upheavals of European history shifted the borders in Europe? I think not. The state had to provide for some ‘special’ rights to accommodate those groups. It’s a controversial area of law, and needless to say many states don’t ‘like’ minorities because they can potentially create more work for them.
You must be excited to return to your role. Do you love your role as a lecturer? I mean you help to shape many young lives, youths who will become our next pillar of the future. Is that a challenge to you? Do you feel that you have to be a role model to your students?
I have a particular take on education. I believe my role as an educator is to inspire students and teach them how to learn and think, not necessarily stuff their heads with lots of information. If I can touch the lives of one, five, ten or more students and empower them in their learning experience – my job as an educator is well done.
What is pressuring in your line of work as a lecturer? And how do you motivate yourself to look beyond the obstacles you encounter?
There are lots of pressures in academia. First of all, my job has three ‘prongs’: teaching, research and administration. Teaching and marking can be very intense during term-time, especially, if I’m asked to teach something I haven’t taught before or mark lots of exam papers and essays. Teaching preparation can take hours, and needs to be balanced with other responsibilities, like research. Research is highly valued by universities, but it’s something that can take months on end. To come up with an original idea and then write a paper that fills a gap in literature is no small undertaking. It’s especially difficult to get into research after an extended period of maternity leave because I have to do a lot of catching up.
Have you encountered any students who are negative in their studies or are giving up in life? How do you turn them around?
My administrative role is to offer pastoral care to students who struggle. I’m a welfare tutor and one of their first ports of call if things go wrong in life. I listen to them and give them my full and undivided attention. When a student feels heard and understood that in itself could be valuable. Some of them are away from their homes, grappling with the challenges of building relationships with peers and tackling the pressures of learning. To have someone who can really hear their struggles and then refer to relevant specialized departments within university, such as counseling or finance, is what I do in addition to teaching and research.
Today, we shall end the interview here and continue tomorrow. If you are interested in reading more about her, come and join us tomorrow or hop over to her blog!
Dr. Gulara Vincent is a writer, blogger, and a university law lecturer. She lives in Birmingham, England, with her husband and two young children. You can visit her writer’s blog at http://gularavincent.com/blog or connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/DrGularaVincent) and Twitter (@gulara_vincent).