Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Looking Back with Gratitude – 2019

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There is just so much to be grateful for in 2019… so much of it professional, but also so much of it personal. This post is mostly professional. Here are some highlights.

woman holding globe at sunset
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The year of holding the world in my hands then letting it go.

I apologize that this one has to be cryptic for confidentiality reasons. But this year, I had a major turn in my career that was extraordinarily validating and affirming that I am truly doing quality work in my field… but I had to let go of the opportunity because I could not take advantage of it in the midst of other priorities. But the process itself made a mental shift for me, and I am so grateful I went through it.

The Year of Cape Town

This was the first time I visit any African country outside of Egypt and I am so glad it was South Africa where so many dear friends live, and where the history is complex and the city is so diverse. I need to go again. I had two other invitations to visit South Africa this year but had to do them virtually. It’s hard to manage multiple trips.

The year of virtual keynotes

I did more virtual keynotes this semester alone than in my entire lifetime. I actually probably had more invited talks in November overall than any month in my life (two were in person though). Some of the virtual invited talks (e.g. for Johannesburg U21 and Sparc Open Africa) were for f2f events, but the others were for fully virtual events. I am grateful for all of them.

The year I couldn’t go to…

This year I was invited, but couldn’t go to: US (twice), Rwanda, South Africa (but managing one out of three isn’t bad!), Canada, Austria. Still trying to navigate opportunities to go to UK and (Arab) gulf countries. I truly appreciate it when people inviting me give me enough of a heads up. It makes all the difference with planning my family time and priorities. I also really appreciate people offering to fly me places but also welcoming the virtual option and trusting me to do it well.

The year of diverse publications

This year, I have written peer-reviewed articles on diverse topics (see list) from feminist approach to digital literacies, to Open edu in Egypt (written last year, published this year) to articulating what Virtually Connecting is all about, Intentionally Equitable Hospitality, to decolonizing open education, to one I never imagined I would write about doing Autoethnography on the internet. One of the trickiest aspects of my academic life is that I get invited so often to contribute to book chapters or special issues, that it is hard for me to actually just decide to publish about something for no reason or without an invite. It is kind of problematic as it seems I am not setting my own research agenda BUT it is also not really like that, because so often the truth of it is that I have something I want to write about, and an invitation helps me find a good home for it. So it usually works out alright in the end. Except for that one paper that got rejected. But I’ll resubmit somewhere else when I have time outside all the other writing deadlines.

The year of presenting with awesome people

Another highlight of my year was co-presenting at OER19 with Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams , Tannis Morgan and Taskeen Adam… and co-presenting with Robin DeRosa in Cairo. Those were really awesome moments for me. I co-facilitated a workshop with Catherine Cronin too!

The year of the best class I ever taught

This is not at all because of anything I did too differently, but I think it just clicked with my class this semester, and they just clicked with and honestly loved each other as well! More here.

The year my stereotypes of ballet were shattered

This one is not professional 😁 it is about my kid learning ballet at age 7 and suddenly becoming this super flexible person with great posture. I didn’t know you could teach someone that at that age. I thought it was too late, but apparently it’s not!

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