Ph.D., Rutgers University

Charlene Sharpe: Too many people are still being denied this basic need of humanity to survive

Interviewed by Nowreen Priyanka

Interviewer’s note: Thanks Charlene for sharing your story and experiences as a doctoral student at Rutgers University.  Rutgers University is a public research university in New Jersey and is also the largest institution of higher education in New Jersey.

Charlene Sharpe

Ph.D. Student

Department of Geography, Rutgers University

I am a Jamaican Christian educator at Northern Caribbean University.

I am also a final year (sixth year) student in the Department of Geography at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA.

I pursued courses in sociology that assisted me with quantitative data analysis. I was able to engage with scholars doing research in the Latin Caribbean to complement my Anglo-Caribbean background.

Why Rutgers University for Ph.D.

In 2010, I was awarded LASPAU- Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Geography. I was searching for a program that had a good balance between praxis and theory. I wanted to do research on issues of food security and disaster risk management (DRM) focusing on small island developing states (SIDS). Not many programs had expertise blending DRM and food security and had experts interested in SIDS. A number of the programs I saw had experts interested in the BRIC states or Africa.

Already in the decade of the 30s and being a Black, female professional with a black son who had not yet reached double-digit age all my socio-spatial and locational antennas were up and searching. I didn’t want to go where it was too far from my intended research site – Jamaica, or where I had to do great adjustments to the climatic condition and food.

I also wanted to be near to people of faith as I am a practicing Seventh-day Adventist and where my son was being his ethnicity reflected positively. It wasn’t easy finding a program that fits all that I was looking for at the time, so I was in a conundrum. 

The way Fulbright is set up, I had to indicate to the Commission the programs in which I had an interest. The Commission then approached the institutions on my behalf. At the end of that process, I had multiple acceptance offers. I didn’t want to choose the wrong program because I know a thing or two about the long-term consequences of wrong decisions.

Interestingly, Rutgers indicated that they did not have much funding with which to assist me outside of the Fulbright funds, unlike another offer I had received from another excellent State University. I started asking expert opinions on the choice to make and I began to pray.

One day, I was contacted by the Commission and told I had 24 hours in which to decide on the institution and program of my choice. I remembered that night I asked the Lord to let someone call me with an answer from Him.

The following morning, I received a call from the late Mrs. Angela Harvey who headed the Cultural Affairs Division of the US Embassy in Jamaica. She was concerned that I had not yet given the Fulbright Commission an answer. I told her my conundrum and without skipping a beat, she said – “Rutgers!”. It was the closest to Jamaica. The winters were milder than the other locations and there was a vibrant faith community there and the university was one of the most diversified in race nationally. The transition would be easier for me and my son, she insisted and I thanked her.

That’s how Rutgers became my choice for the Ph.D. journey. I was happy that I was getting to work with Prof James Kenneth Mitchell, iconic figure in the disaster management community.

My research and its importance

My research is at the intersection of community development, climate change, disaster risk management, food security, and resilience.

Tropical Storm Gustav passed through Jamaica on August 28 and 29, 2008, wreaking differentiated socio-economic and environmental devastation on myriads of communities. The Jamaican economy, it is estimated, suffered damage and losses equivalent to US$213.99 million or 2 percent of nominal Gross Domestic Product in 2007 (PIOJ, 2008).

The Planning Institute of Jamaica further reported that:

“While the entire population experienced some impact from the storm, close to 450,000 residents in 76 communities were most directly affected with the impact ranging from isolation of communities due to damaged bridges and impassable roads; destruction of property including houses, crops and livestock; loss of livelihood; and loss of life. At the peak of the event, a total of 102 shelters were opened across all parishes housing 1,952 persons. The parishes with the highest number of persons in shelters were Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas and Clarendon with 387; 346; and 331 persons respectively. By September 1, four days after the event, 248 persons remained in 10 shelters in 5 parishes.” (PIOJ, 2008.vi)

It is important to note that official shelters rarely house a majority of evacuees; most tend to shelter in the homes of relatives and friends, so the figures provided above undoubtedly underestimate the scale of dislocation.

At the time of the storm, the Jamaican state was experiencing a number of societal dislocations that greatly exacerbated its impact. First was a dramatic transition in governance because of a switch between ruling political parties that pursued strikingly different agendas; this also coincided with sharp increases in world food prices during the preceding year.

As reported by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) world food prices had escalated by 45% twelve (12) months prior. In 2007 the right-wing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government had taken the reins of power from the left-wing People’s National Party (PNP) that had previously enjoyed an unprecedented 18-year rule.

Jamaica, therefore, was already caught in the turbulent global financial, fuel, and food crises that began in 2007. It was also caught in a series of dilemmas that are common to Small Island Developing States (SIDS): small physical size; proneness to natural disasters and climate extremes; extreme openness of their economies; and low adaptive capacity – all characteristics which enhanced vulnerability and reduced resilience to climate variability and change as well as exacerbating economic dependency, collapsing their agricultural sectors and increasing food insecurity (see IPCC 2001; Mimura et al. 2007; Pelling and Uitto, 2001; AOSIS, 2009 ).

Finally, Jamaica had also recorded its highest inflation in twelve (12) years, resulting in great social and economic upheavals. People and communities were hurting and confused and trying to cope with and/or adapt to numerous stressors while at the same time also trying to recover from the disastrous onslaught of the tropical storm. Access to and availability of a stable supply of affordable and nutritious food had become a challenge rendering a number of communities, food insecure and unhealthy. It is crucial to note that though communities shared the same sets of stressors and perturbations their responses were nevertheless differentiated. Subsequently, they exhibited quite different levels of food insecurity with the worst occurring in poor inner-city urban and deep rural communities.

Making sense of this cannot be done in the abstract. Giving voice to these differentiated and all-encompassing community experiences demands close inspection of specific communities and the contexts in which they operate. This allows for spatial analyses of contextual factors – viewpoints, places, community connectedness – at a scale that could assist hazard and disaster research communities, policymakers, and non-governmental organizations to distinguish among the diverse accounts and processes of constructing resilience, including those that have enjoyed success as well as those that have not. Without such an approach vulnerability factors might be excluded, viewpoints silenced and resilience strategies for community pre-disaster recovery and health overlooked (Winchester and Rofe, 2010; Pickerill, 2009).

My research project focused on three sites in Jamaica, one urban inner-city community, Trench Town in the capital city, Kingston, and two rural communities – Prospect in Manchester and Jeffrey Town in St. Mary. The oral testament of individuals and focus groups within the three sites exposed the differing perspectives and multiple meanings of the same problems, processes, and events experienced by all as they worked to establish better pre-disaster plans, build food security, reduce hazards loss and achieve community health. The qualitative geographical research approach employed in my study allowed for the in-depth telling of these multiple meanings of events and the interrogation of places and people’s attachment to places through the lens of resiliency outcomes.

This sort of analysis rejects the notion of a single ‘correct’ interpretation waiting to be observed and measured as is often assumed in quantitatively driven analyses and it reveals that SIDS though depicted as sites of vulnerability are indeed sites of resilience (Campbell, 2009).

Rutgers provides an efficient bus system that traverses the campuses. That is very helpful if you are not driving.

Source of research funding

I am an international student from Jamaica. I started my program on a scholarship and through the arrangements negotiated by the Fulbright Commission. Before I started, I was guaranteed an additional two years of funding by Rutgers. I, therefore, had 4 years of funding.

I had a child who became a teenager and went to public school. I had to show that I could take care of my child to have been able to take him. There are many ways of providing such evidence. One way is to find someone (s) who is/are willing to act as (a) guarantor (s) and present his/her/their bank statement(s) to even though they would not be handing you any money.

We lived in university family housing most of the time and that that was expensive. The funding was adequate for both of us. Managing the scholarship funding was paramount. I had savings and family and friends who helped. A number of graduate students would rent space together thus economizing on the cost of living as New Jersey is an expensive state in which to live.

I chose not to expose my child to that communal, adult, secular space and therefore the bulk of my funding went into housing. For the early years of my program (coursework years), I received a pre-dissertation grant to do scoping work in my research site. This was funded through the graduate school. One of my advisors, Prof Robin Leichenko, through her climate change project, funded my attendance/participation in a climate change conference on the island during the early years while I was still engaged in course work.

Availability of teaching/research assistantship within the Department of Geography

The department has teaching and research assistantships. These were advertised and persons would apply. They seemed very limited though. I worked as a teaching assistant.

What I like most about being at Rutgers/Department of Geography

The department was small. They admitted a small number each year and therefore the setting was intimate. The graduate faculties were, for the most part, accessible and visible as leaders in their areas of expertise.

Students were allowed to build their own programs and were encouraged to pursue courses from across the university. For example, I was able to engage with experts on the agricultural extension site and pursue courses in agricultural economics and ecology. I was able to pursue courses from the public policy school that helped me to understand community food security, community economic development, and urban economics. I pursued courses in sociology that assisted me with quantitative data analysis. I was able to engage with scholars doing research in the Latin Caribbean to complement my Anglo-Caribbean background.

If that was not enough, Rutgers is a member of a consortium of neighboring universities that allow students to pursue courses for credit. Princeton was ‘up the road’ from Rutgers and Columbia and an hour away in the opposite direction. So, students made use of the cross-fertilization of institutional offerings. The Rutgers library system is the epitome of efficiency and as such, I could comfortably return to Jamaica in the last two years of my program to be in the research field and write the dissertation.

The diversity and intellectual prowess of the students are remarkable. I have made some lifetime friends and have met a number of incredible persons who I know will go on to impact the world greatly.

As with all institutions, there were a number of learning moments. Many of these moments appeared as a result of my positionality. It’s what you bring to the table versus what everyone else brings to the enterprise. Some aspects of positionality – cultural, gender, race and ethnicity, class, worldview, will be privileged over others. All views do not contend equally. So, very quickly you learn what is privileged and of high value to the main stakeholders and what is not and then you can choose to act accordingly or constantly feel the chafing and ‘epistemological violence” of non-conformity.

My background as an undergrad

I studied at the regional university in Jamaica, the University of the West Indies. I did a BA in Geography from the 1990s most of which would have been archaic, outdated concepts by the time I started the Ph.D. in geography in 2010. There are basic spatial and critical thinking skills that were developed from that early program that served me well.

I, however, had a Master’s degree in Government and another in Natural Resource Management which was extremely useful in laying the solid foundation I needed to transition into the American system and the area of emphasis I chose. I was used to hard work and to the practice of reading large volumes of discreet materials in short time frames to distill the salient and cross-cutting, interlocking points. That was very useful.

With my three degrees from UWI, Rutgers eventually in my last year of pursuing coursework granted me an exemption for 9 credits. Students are allowed up to 24 credits of exemption. It meant I had to pursue over 40 credit hours in the course work which I enjoyed immensely. Being able to mix and match my courses over the 2.5 years it took to complete the course work was very profitable and I would recommend this to students (if you can afford it).

The transition was not as seamless as I would have liked. The first semester had the steepest learning curve. The language of graduate school with the jargon of academe took a while to grasp. For me, it wasn’t English, it was literally a new language and once familiar English words had esoteric connotations and ontological flavorings. If the semester had 14 weeks, I spent the first 12 trying to learn the new language to deliver assignments and other assessments in the last two.

Coming from the Caribbean, we address our professors by their title as a show of respect. I think I was older than some of my professors which added a nuanced dimension to my calling them by their titles which was also a new experience for some creating cultural dissonance. The casual camaraderie took some getting used to in the faculty/student relationship.

Finding a supervisor and settling

At first, it seemed like an impossible task to find an advisor, but that was because I was still riding the waves of indecision on what the final project would investigate. I knew I was interested in food security issues but that is an ever-expanding field and complex. Once, I decided on the intersectionality of food security and disaster risk management, the task was fairly easy. Professor J. Kenneth Mitchell is an extraordinary researcher and an iconic stalwart in disaster management. So, he was my first choice and I was privileged that he accepted me as a student.

While at Rutgers, I realized the immense expertise I had access to and very quickly, I began putting my program together in consultation with Prof Mitchell. I registered for courses in climate change and in anything that said or hinted at food! I was able to meet Prof. Robin Leichenko, a climate change superstar, and Dr. Kathe Newman, from the Bloustein School of Public Policy. She specializes in food studies, economic community development, and so forth. So very quickly I had a strong team. I didn’t begin to settle until the second semester as the first semester was dedicated to sorting out our lives in a new country.

So, yes, it was difficult but like life in general, once you are sure God has opened a door for you, just walk through and give it your all. God has you covered.

Life as a graduate student

We have to further qualify to be graduate students. Being a single mother of a son who was getting into the age of consciousness and awareness, i.e. hitting puberty – not having family who were living close by, being gravely ill, being an international student, a student of color, a female, a Seventh-day Adventist Christian brought a nuanced positionality to graduate school.

So, yes, it was difficult but like life in general, once you are sure God has opened a door for you, just walk through and give it your all. God has you covered. I was at Rutgers – New Brunswick. Rutgers has campuses across New Jersey, but this is the hub. I had done preliminary research before getting to the campus.

My department had assigned a graduate student to me, James Jeffers, who graduated about two years after I got there. James was able to answer most of my questions. The International Office had one solid week of orientation for international students and I attended. So, theoretically, I knew what the living conditions would have been like. However, once, I got there and began to experience the reality of navigating the system I had to quickly make the necessary adjustments.

For one, we were in a food desert and did not have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The university along with the community development agency tried to solve this problem during my tenure so it isn’t as bad as when I got there in 2010. In the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, culturally we eat a cooked meal at least twice for the day. For my first year, every event and eatery I visited, served a “healthy” sandwich with soda and water. (Most health sandwiches did not have protein, it was vegetables on bread). I dropped two dress sizes very quickly. That in itself was an unintended consequence, but a good one.

I had a horrible experience as for the first month and a half I did not live on the campus. It was a nightmare. By the middle of October, I was able to receive family housing on the campus. Housing outside of the campus was a challenge, especially with a child. Once, we moved on to the campus (and housing was very good), we had to meet all the health and vaccinations requirements. While I could use the Rutgers health system as a student, my son could not.

Outside of the accommodation requirements, his school also had its requirements. Navigating the health system off-campus proved to have its own challenges.

Then there were the demands of his schooling and attending parents’ conferences. The school district was a blue ribbon district and therefore excellent. My son was able to participate in a number of activities he would not have had access to in Jamaica. He was selected to participate in the State’s orchestra for his age group and became a State youth leader. He excelled at the State exams and blossomed into a dignified Christian young man. Students with families need to remember that life will not stop to allow you to pursue your degree, so you must find the balance- quickly!

Rutgers provides an efficient bus system that traverses the campuses. That is very helpful if you are not driving. Trying to get to the major supermarkets or anywhere that is not on the bus route takes some major planning and scheduling.

Trying to meet all the deadlines and fulfill the varying requirements can take its toll and if you are not mindful, you will put living on hold to pursue the terminal degree. As I was not given transfer credits upfront, I had decided to pursue more than the stipulated 9 credits per semester as I needed to complete the course work during the same timeframe as my cohort who had received 24 transfer credits.

By my second semester of the first year, I had signed up for more credits. By the second semester of my second year, I found out I had a tumor. This tumor was wreaking havoc on my body and I was in and out of the emergency room and Rutgers health centers trying to figure out why I was feeling ill and why my system was literally shutting down. Taking time to take care of your health is important. Though persons may express sympathy you are expected to produce. I enjoyed Sabbath rests. I was able to find a few congregations and made new friends. I started volunteering on a number of projects within the community. Serving others helped to bring some balance to my already hectic days. I volunteered on the food council in New Brunswick as well as with Elijah’s Promise, an anti-hunger agency in New Brunswick. I volunteered with my church’s outreach community.

Serving others helped to bring some balance to my already hectic days. I volunteered on the food council in New Brunswick as well as with Elijah’s Promise, an anti-hunger agency in New Brunswick. I volunteered with my church’s outreach community programs and every Tuesday morning before my evening classes, I was in a neighboring community assisting the poor and indigent. I volunteered at an additional food pantry at a Sunday church during the winter months. I also did hospital and home visits of the sick. These are activities I would normally do in Jamaica so I tried to live as normal as possible in this new country where I was now domiciled.

During the phase of writing the dissertation, you need to focus. For me, I was tired. After six years, I was ready to be finished as I had begun to put a few things on hold. My health was not getting better at first and my energy was drained. I had undergone three surgeries, two in New Jersey and one in Tampa Florida to correct the failure of the second surgery. I decided to spend the last two years in my research site where I would be on the ground with the participants of my research. I was also back in familiar territory. I went back to my job as my leave had expired, so I was working full time and collecting data and writing.

Too many people are still being denied this basic need of humanity to survive. Unlike WIFI, a lack of this basic need is catastrophic and this is preventable.

How I became interested in this field

My first introduction to food security came while pursuing my bachelor’s in the 1990s. The initial introduction of GMOs in the food industry caught my attention.

My professor at that time was a young Canadian trained geographer, Balfour Spence, Ph.D., who interestingly was teaching on the Masters in Natural Resource Management program I was pursuing fifteen (15) years later. At this point, food security was on the agenda of the world.

Furthermore, Jamaica was experiencing the pinch of the global financial crisis and the food and fuel crises and grappling with the way forward. My family lineage is tied to farming and therefore I heard the cried of farmers and felt compelled to better understand this complex system to render service to people especially in this era of heightened weather-related disturbances.

The qualifying exam experience

Rutgers Geography qualifying exam experience can be gruesome. We are expected to sit comprehensive exams after the course work period in at least four areas of specialization over a two weeks period as well as defend the research proposal. Trying to prepare for the exams as well as putting a proposal together and doing an oral defense is intense. It has its advantages though as reading for the exams helps to provide the literature review for the thesis proposal.

I had chosen to do 3-hour exams instead of 24- hour exams. I had at least two days’ break before my proposal defense after the last written exam. The defense was scheduled for the afternoon and I was happy for that as while I was pursuing the Ph.D., I was also pursuing a two-year program geared at shaping leaders in higher education and we had an invitation to a capstone event the morning of my oral defense. Attending that capstone event set the tone for the day. The exam could have been about 2 hours or more.

The first half of the oral exam was spent on answering questions that I had written for the examinations. I think only one of my advisers gave a paper with optional questions. The other three exams were all mandatory questions. Of course, in an exam you try to choose wisely the questions to answer. In my oral defense, all the questions I did not answer, were given! Those questions I had answered but the examiners had follow-up questions; I was also given those to answer. Some, I had to sit for a while and think through as validity was important. My committee members were superb overall pushing me to be reflexive and to be mindful of my subject positionality in my analyses. They were thorough.

In the end, I concluded that their intent was not to fail any student but to assist students in thinking through as clearly as possible what we were proposing to do and to ensure that it could be accomplished. It was a good experience. This was followed by a congratulatory reception with other students and faculty as I had entered the rank of candidacy!

Advice for students who wants to enter this field

The food system is complex. Understanding its component parts is as important as understanding the whole system. Importantly too are the activities and outcomes that constitute the system and as such, there is room for more researchers to add to the body of knowledge and understanding. Too many people are still being denied this basic need of humanity to survive. Unlike WIFI, a lack of this basic need is catastrophic and this is preventable.

Specialized tests for admission into the department

The Fulbright Scholarship application mandated that applicants had to receive above a specific minimal score in the appropriate standardized tests. I sat the GRE, Prior to being asked to do the GRE I had never heard of the examination. I spent three weeks going through two books – one by Kaplan and another by Barron and then I flew to the USA to sit the examination.

During the three-week period a student of mine, Mr. DuWarner McKenzie, who was very good at Math gave me a refresher course in Math as I had not practiced that type of Math since leaving high school in the 1990s. Thanks to DuWarner, it paid off.

(NB: Being a Seventh-day Adventist I would not sit the exam on a Sabbath which was the established day for exams at the single site in Jamaica. I had missed the deadline date to request a Monday test and the only other alternative was sitting the exam outside of the country. There are sites in the USA that offer the exam basically daily so I took advantage of that opportunity).

Advice for new students at Rutgers

The university has a number of resources through de-centralized yet accessible. I would advise you to very quickly learn the new landscape and keep abreast of the Rutgers news. Opportunities galore for training exist. Familiarize yourself with your immediate cohort and those ahead as they will be the best resource for moving forward.

Rutgers also has a number of two-year programs that students may pursue free of cost alongside the Ph.D. I for example, did two years of college teaching courses and numerous workshops on innovative teaching as well as teaching with technology. I was, therefore, able to design my own online course and received training in online education. I was able to understudy Master Teachers and go through the ‘how to’ of designing and creating courses for face to face and hybrid classes. I received feedback on my teaching and on my teaching philosophy. At the end of the two years, these courses appeared on my transcript.

I also received a fellowship to pursue a pre-doctoral leadership program on leadership in higher education. This program pulled doctoral students from across the university with varying specializations who had an interest in higher education. We then went through a rigorous program geared at understanding the issues in higher education and were privileged to have university administrators share their experiences. For one semester, each student was allowed to shadow a university administrator. A number of the vice presidents and deans participated. This meant being exposed to the daily running of the decision-making machine and the reality of the portfolio assignment. We became part of university search committees and strategic planning committees and got the first-hand experience of what was needed and necessary to manage and lead an institution like Rutgers. We were afforded the opportunity to spend time in Washington D.C. with the movers and shakers of higher education policies. We met with the editors of journals like Higher Education and with educational policymakers, advisers and lobbyists. We had a capstone presentation to tackle an emerging issue in higher education. The administrators were invited to participate and they did.

There are numerous opportunities for gaining training and expertise in skills not needed in your Ph.D. Seek these out. Organize your days and make use of the resources available.

My short-term and long-term career plans

I am returning to my substantive post in Jamaica. I serve at the Northern Caribbean University, which is a liberal arts university operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Long term, I would want to work more closely with small island developing states to help build resilient food systems. I also have a passion for higher education so I will remain in academia.

 

I faced a number of challenges, but with Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm..

Challenges or struggles

I faced a number of challenges, but with Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm. As I indicated earlier in the second year of my program, I was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor. My system was becoming calcified. At first, there was no diagnosis even though I had done surgery to remove a lump that was growing rapidly. I was having severe brain fog and memory loss. I had extremely high blood pressure and bone pain. I was sleeping for up to 40 hours at a time, with extreme weakness and tiredness, abnormal anxiety attacks, and complaints of ill-feeling without any observable causes.

The doctors at the Rutgers Health Center, especially Dr. Johnson, worked tirelessly with me to try to discover what was wrong. The receptionists and the nursing staff were very professional and helpful. They held my hands through the four years of nightmarish ordeal.

I served as a teaching assistant and this entitled me to excellent health insurance. I was able to see the best specialists and do the necessary surgeries. After my last surgery and I returned to Jamaica, I was asked by the surgeon in Tampa to do follow-up blood work in Jamaica. In trying to get the blood work done, I was told, some of what I needed had only just begun to do that sort of testing in Jamaica and for others, I would have to leave the island to get them done. Right then and there, I saw the steady hand of God. I knew the Fulbright scholarship wasn’t just about obtaining a Ph.D. but also saving my life for a purpose.

During this period of suffering from confusion, impaired memory, bone, and muscle pain I met an elder at my church, Elder Linton Moulton, and his wonderful wife Vendolyn. They helped me to get to my weekly doctor’s appointment in various towns where buses do not go. They became my family. I learned to trust God. I started to strategize my studies. I ensured that all my coursework topics were aligned with my dissertation topic. The nights were extremely difficult as that’s when I experienced the most pain or I would be at the emergency room. So I factored that into the hours I chose to teach and attend classes. Those days when I was feeling well enough to do some work, I pushed and did as much as I could as I know there would be days when I would not be able to attend school work. I learned how to make the most out of each day and be grateful for every day I was alive and in my right mind.

Housing was also a problem. At one point in my study, that’s my third year, I was homeless. Yes, homeless with my child. I had money but no one was willing to rent to a student with a minor. I had given up my university housing after my second year as I was planning on going to Jamaica to start my data collection and writing.

I was asked to serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for two years (after I had given up my housing) and I gladly obliged. For the first week of year three, one of my professors offered us accommodation. Thereafter, we were truly homeless. God is faithful though. While I was living in family housing for nearly two years prior, I would normally host a number of children whose parents were at classes at odd hours. We looked after each other’s children in family housing as we were all in the struggle together. There was a particular child, my son’s age whose mother I had never met, however, he slept and ate at my house frequently. When my son and I could no longer bounce from here to there, I called this child’s mother and explained our predicament. Without hesitation, she invited us in and we lived in her living room for the school year and learned to appreciate Adam and Eve her pet pythons. She remembered how I cared for her child even though we had never met and she returned the favor. Thanks, Nadia and Osiris.

My favorite pass time

Sleep and listen to the Daily Audio Bible. I love to cook. I volunteer and serve where ever I see a need and I travel.

My favorite books

Though in a Ph.D. program, I realized long ago that I am not just an academic being. I am also physical and social and spiritual. The way the world is organized I do not have to expend great energy to feed my multiple selves except for my spiritual being. During the moments when I was ill, I learned to listen and meditate (not by doing yoga!) and not just by reading. I started meditating on Philippians 2:5 “let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus”. So I began doing podcasts as I could control when and what I fed into my spirit while I was being still. My diet consisted of listening to a number of spiritual podcasts stretched across the denominational realm. I did a lot of singing with groups like Shekinah Glory. Grace Larson and the Brooklyn Tabernacle were favorites. I got the EG White app and listened to all I could. I listened to Os Hillman’s TGIF (Today God Is First) and the Potter’s House. If I were to read, it would be Christian fiction that I downloaded for free from BookBub.

I am not a television person per se. If I were to do television it would be Home and Garden as well as the cooking channels. I watched the Kendrick Brothers’ films and others in that genre.

I limit my secular digestion to PBS News Hour, The Documentary of the BBC World Service, and The Economist Radio. I would like to re-read Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation soon. That book placed capitalism into perspective for me.

Work Cited


Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). 2009. Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) declaration on climate change 2009. http://www.sidsnet.org/aosis/documents/AOSIS%20Summit%20Declaration%20Sept%2021%20FINAL.pdf 19/01/2012

Campbell, J. 2009. Islandness: vulnerability and resilience in Oceania. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures. 3(1):85-97

IPCC ed. 2001. Climate change 2001: The scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Mimura, N., L. Nurse, R. F. McLean, J. Agard, L. Brigulio, P. Lefale, R. Payet, and G. Sem. 2007. Small islands. In Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaption and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the Fourth Assessment of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. M. L. Parry, O. F. Canzaina, J. P. Paultikof, P. J. van der Linden and C. E. Hanson, 687-716. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pelling, M., and Uitto, J. 2001. Small island developing states: natural disaster vulnerability and global change. Environmental Hazards 3:49–62.

Pickerill, J.2009. Finding common ground? Spaces of dialogue and the negotiation of indigenous interests in environmental campaigns in Australia’. Geoforum 40: 66-79 quoted in Winchester, H and Rofe, M. 2010. Qualitative research and its place in human geography. In Hay. I. 3rd ed. Qualitative research methods in human geography, Oxford University Press:1-24

Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). 2008. Assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impact of Tropical Storm Gustav on Jamaica. http://www.pioj.gov.jm/Portals/0/Sustainable_Development/Tropical%20Storm%20Gustav.pdf January 14, 2010

Winchester, H and Rofe, M. 2010. Qualitative research and its place in human geography. In Hay. I. 3rd ed. Qualitative research methods in human geography, Oxford University Press:1-24