Are You Listening? Responding to the Challenges of Diversity

Date: December 16th (Saturday)

Time: 13:30 – 17:00

Venue: Takemaru Hall, Ikoma City

Speakers: Parisa Mehran (Osaka University), Gerry Yokota (Osaka University

Cost: Free for JALT members, 1,000 yen for non-JALT members

This final event in the 2017 Nara JALT Program is dedicated to professional development, and particularly to the issue of diversity in our workplaces and communities. The recent implementation of the JALT Code of Conduct has highlighted the need for JALT to formalize the values that help to make it an inclusive and supportive professional network. As members of JALT, it is important we recognize and share those values, especially at times when they are challenged. Along with an overview of the Code of Conduct, this event features direct voices on the realities of harassment, and experienced views on how we can respond. The presentations will be followed by the annual Nara JALT End-of-Year Dinner Party.


Event Program:

13:30–13:40 Opening Address

13:40–15:10 “I Am More than a Stereotype”: Stories of Change and Hope by Parisa Mehran

15:10–15:30 Mingle break

15:30–16:50 Bridging the Gap Between Ideal and Reality: Diversity Awareness in Action by Gerry Yokota

16:50–17:00 Final Address

18:00–20:30 The Nara JALT End-of-Year Dinner Party


Presentation Abstracts:

Parisa Mehran

“I Am More Than A Stereotype”: Stories of Change and Hope

This presentation is a journey to my activism and identity reconstruction as an Iranian English teacher/researcher in Japan by recounting mycritical events—unexpected incidents that significantly influence an individual (Mertova & Webster, 2012)—and my personal narratives—stories which we tell ourselves and others about our personal lived experiences (Baker, 2006, 2014). I will discuss how these incidents and stories have changed my life and how I am trying different ways to be a change agent to dispel stereotypes about my identity. I will introduce my weblog, titled “I Am More Than A Stereotype” (beyondyourstereotypes.wordpress.com), where I write about my ouch moments in the hope of eliminating macro and microaggressions, defined as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership” (Sue, 2010, p. 3), and stereotypes by making the invisible visible. I will also explain and illustrate how I create classrooms of and for activism by integrating my weblog into my lessons and by introducing the real Iran and Iranian people behind the news to my students. I will further offer a display of items that tangibly represent stages of my journey and identity formation.

Gerry Yokota

Bridging the Gap Between Ideal and Reality: Diversity Awareness in Action

In my follow-up session, I will facilitate discussion about how educators can and should be responding to the voices of people like Parisa. Are we making as much effort as she is to be change agents and dispel stereotypes, or could some of us be a little too comfortable with an inequitable status quo? All too often, the programs and publications offered by our institutions are little more than superficial PR hype that fails to address the realities on our campuses. How can we move beyond talking the talk to walking the walk? As a bridge or springboard (diving board?) for discussion, I propose that we discuss the JALT Code of Conduct, a short one-page document that is easily accessible on the website, and explore the roles we are challenged to play in realizing the ideals we profess to uphold.


Presenter Bios:

Parisa Mehran is a PhD candidate at Takemura Lab, Informedia Education Division, Cybermedia Center, Osaka University, Japan. Born and raised in Tehran, she holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), both from Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran. Before moving to Japan, she taught English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and General English (GE) courses at Alzahra University. In 2014, she obtained the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship and is now pursuing further education in Japan. Her research interests include Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), online/blended course design, AR/VR applications in ELT, teaching English for peace and social change, and global issues in ELT. She currently teaches part-time at Konan Women’s University, Kobe Women’s University, and an English conversation school, Princeford English College. She also actively gives talks about the real Iran and the Iranian people behind the news, and blogs about the Iranian identity.

Gerry Yokota is Professor of English and Contemporary Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies at Osaka University. In her teaching and research, she takes a cognitive linguistic approach to academic writing, critical thinking, and the representation of gender and culture. In the area of professional service, she has over a decade of experience offering diversity training in FD and PD seminars for both high school teachers and university professors through Osaka University’s Open University and Teaching and Learning Support Center, especially for professors using EMI in classes with international students. She has also served as chair of her faculty’s human rights committee and the university-wide sexual harassment subcommittee, and as director of the university’s harassment counseling office.

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