Scholar Stories: Dra. Gabrielle Oliveira

How do you use writing or art in your life?

I use writing as storytelling. People’s stories that cross physical borders and take place in multiple spaces at the same time are particularly powerful for me. Dialogues between mothers and children who are living far away from one another are so telling and moving. I write hoping that more people will hear our voices.

What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship

As a Brazilian immigrant myself I have been living ‘transnationally’ for 13 years now. My research and interests are deeply shaped by this sense of (be)longing for ‘everyday’ moments of care. I’ve learned from my parents and from the families I work with how to care transnationally. My family and the families I do research with, have taught me what it means to embrace saudades (Portuguese word for longing) as a way of living and existing. I fully take that into my teaching and scholarship. 

What would you tell your younger self?

Exercise often, eat better! You will figure things out and if you don’t, it’s also ok.  

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers

Follow your heart in terms of what moves you and let that be the center of your work. I see teachers starting their profession with so much enthusiasm and then the entire structure and system boggle them down. Take deep breaths. Parents and children all over the world know that you are heroes. You are our heroes. For scholars, I would say make sure you really love your research or make sure you know and believe in your research because you will be ‘stuck’ with it for a bit when you are a junior scholar until you find a new project. Take care of yourself and know that you matter and your work matters.

Something else you want to share?

I used to question my ‘worth’ a lot as a Brazilian immigrant scholar in the United States. I always felt I was behind in knowing how to navigate academia in the US, schools and work. However, slowly, but surely I have learned to take a compliment. I’ve learned how to say no and speak up on my behalf. Mentors have helped me and the women I work with doing research have been an inspiration. 

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