Sunday, 30 September 2012

Taking Lego Seriously

The Lego Serious Play website was very interesting. Although it isn't one of the required readings, I thought some of the points made on their website were very compelling, and relevant to getting different kinds of results from face-to-face research.

I thought that the introspective nature of the research particularly interesting. Instead of having to verbally answer a question, the people build their 'identities' and answer questions about themselves out of Lego. According to the interview on the website, David Gauntlett is trying to understand a research problem that cannot be easily described through answering a question with words. Being able to build, and rebuilt an identity until it the person thinks that it is an accurate answer to the question asked, or as a description of his/her identity. He is looking at the ways people tell their stories by representing themselves. To further illustrate this point, One of the comments from a participant stated: "I thought that the exercise helped to reveal slightly undiscovered feelings, concerns and hopes.” What I found most fascinating on the website was the way people represented themselves. One of the first examples is my favourite. Participants were asked to build a small creature, then change that creature to how they felt about a Monday/Friday. Before I read the description underneath the walrus, I knew it was a Friday because of the way the person changed his/her figure.

After thinking for a bit, I was brought back to Knight’s text, and how structured his methods of face-to-face research were. Alternately, Serious Lego Play seems to be an original way to get different groups of people (low-paid workers, students, academics etc.), to speak to each other, and explain themselves, so that qualitative data may be found – which was Gauntlett’s goal. Engaging in a creative method made the subjects think about themselves in ways an interview or focus group may not have been able to (Gauntlett). After reading this article, I have been persuaded to think that creativity in terms of method is important to get new, and different results.

Kinght: Good News, Bad News

When were asked to read the SSRCH proposal of successful candidates last class we were asked to look for specific things, one of them being the research method. It was then that it hit me, aside from vaguely understanding quantitative methods (questionnaires, surveys, ect), when it came to qualitative methods (?!?)...I really was at a loss.

Good News:

After reading Knight this week, I am at ease...a little at ease (because there is still a lot more for us to get to - but hey, it is only week 4, right?). I was glad to have an overview of the qualitative side of things, which I think Kinght's face-to-face inquiry methods is all about. It is also, thankfully, the more human side of research methodology and something that I can appreciate.Action Interviews and Nominal Group Technique are two of the outlined methods that peaked my interest and warrants further investigation (for that INF1300 assignment that Jessica mentions in her post this week

Bad News:

Knight mentions the "insider" and "outsider" under the Special Concerns heading on page 55, and it is something that I can relate to, while also finding it troubling. This dichotomy is especially relevant when the subject matter is sensitive or taboo. As a researcher, you are expected to be an authority in and on the issue at hand. However, it is harder for the outsider, in my opinion, to be that authority and more importantly be an authority the respondent can identify with. On the other hand, the "outsider" may have less of a reason to be biased and assess the situation from a fresh perspective. This is a double edged sword that I am not sure I am comfortable with.


The Importance of Learning About Interviews

This week's Knight chapter was incredibly useful for me as it relates to two of my courses! Aside from its obvious relevance to Research Methods, this chapter proved to be extremely valuable for an assignment in my Foundations in LIS course. In short, for that course we are to conduct an interview of a non-library worker and provide a report of our findings. For obvious reasons I was able to pick up some useful tips on face-to-face interviews and learn more about the different methods one can use to conduct various types of interviews (i.e. action interviews). This link between courses provided to me by Knight's chapter has drawn my attention to just how relevant a Research Methods course is to my studies. As a first year student, I am beyond glad that this is one of the first courses I am taking towards my completion of this degree, as I have a feeling it will prove to be tremendously helpful to my other classes. For this reason, I found this to be the most useful of Knight's chapters so far (as I found last week's reading of Knight to be a bit dry and difficult to focus on). I am pleased at how practical and applicable many of his methods in chapter 3 are, and they proved to be quite useful in my assignment for my other class. His example of asking teachers what characteristics are present in a good teacher proved that no single method of interviewing is perfect, as their responses differed depending on how the question was framed (52-53). To me, this indicates that my research might greatly benefit from a mixture of closed and open ended questions, and I have incorporated this into my work for my Foundations in LIS class. Knight's chapter has helped me to really examine how I can use interviews and experiments to further my research project proposal (which is due in two weeks- time flies!). In the simplest terms possible, this chapter has really helped to solidify my understanding of research methods and helped me to really "get" the idea of proper interviews.

Everything’s a nail - appropriate research products, reflections on Knight Ch 3

Running throughout this his chapter is an obsession with impressive-looking ‘sciencey’ research products. (Tom Lehrer expresses something similar Personally, I have a problem with this approach to research and find it inconsistent with the underlying idea behind the advice that different types of questions need different types of methods to properly address them. Similarly, certain research projects are best addressed using different (not necessarily mathematical/quantitative AKA Sciencey) research products. Picking up on my previous post, I think there are many interesting questions relevant to understanding our social existence that cannot be adequately addressed through a data-based methods.  It may be a case of the chicken/egg, but I wonder if this obsession with sciencey-looking output is a product of funding agencies, or is inherent in the discipline, and if so how widely? Are there different epistemic communities within “social sciences” that place more or less emphasis on science data? If so, I would like to figure out where these boundaries are so I can deliberately switch sides depending on what I’m interested in at that moment.

So what is Social Science?

I took this opportunity to familiarize myself with the literature on how social scientists address my area of interest: emergency management . Reinventing Public Administration: A Case Study of the Federal Emergency Management Agency by Saundra K. Schneider recounted the organizational reform at FEMA after some problematic incidents in the 1990s. It prompted me to ask the question: how was the 1990s review the same/different from the post-Hurricane Katrina criticism of FEMA? To this end there were several questions I wanted to ask, such as: how did the disaster responses compare pre/post the restructuring? But the question I was most drawn to was: is there something about the problems facing the agency that intrinsically makes them difficult (impossible?) to solve? Upon reading Knight/Luker, however, I’m not sure that that question can really be asked within the scope of social science research as they (and presumably many others) define it. My background in political science inclines me towards the theoretical/philosophical where the expectation was for well-reasoned and supported arguments, not conclusions drawn from data. Thus the most pressing question for me now is: what is the scope of the discipline commonly understood as the “Social Sciences” vis-à-vis what question can be asked and methods employed?

Schneider, S. K. (1998). Reinventing public administration: A case study of the federal emergency management agency. Public Administration Quarterly, 22(1), 35-57.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

“You must dress to impress” and other insights

In chapter 3, Knight outlines the various face-to-face research methods researchers have at their fingertips. As a self-described “newbie,” I appreciated his descriptions of each type, especially the enclosed examples of real studies and applications of these methods. Though he does admit the caveat that “no book can give exhaustive advice on any one technique” (p. 50) I still found this chapter to be invaluable. Now that I have a better understanding of what my research question is, I found that I read this chapter making mental (and written) notes of which method would be suitable for me.

An interesting nugget of information that I learned was that “as far as interviewing goes, the researcher is the instrument.” (p. 54) It’s the idea that non-verbal cues, including how a researcher dresses, moves, speaks, could have ramifications on the interview. Indeed, this notion reminds me of my own experience going for job interviews. For example, I have to be conscious in selecting appropriate interview attire before the interview, i.e. a smart-looking blazer with a crisp white blouse and perfectly ironed dress pants. Then, upon meeting my potential boss and during the interview, I realize s/he is assessing not only how I am dressed, but also what I am saying and not saying. And so I am cognizant about taking care to keep good posture, using a pleasant tone of voice, and above all, maintaining eye contact and smiling. In comparing my previous experiences as a job interviewee, I can understand and apply that knowledge to the possibility of doing face-to-face interviews for my research question. I think I would prefer doing this type to doing phone interviews. Why? Well, I agree with Knight in that you can speak much more freely (e.g. not as many time constraints), do not necessarily have to stick to a script of questions (could improvise if needed) and there is no fear that the participant is pre-occupied with their own household tasks or just plain distracted by some TV show.

Reading the Lunt & Livingstone article, I found it interesting to learn more about focus groups and their resurgence in popularity, though I do not think this type would fall among the research methods that I might select. However, it is refreshing to know why focus groups could be useful for researchers. Admittedly, having never participated in a focus group I would feel unprepared if I were to do this type of research without having first observed another researcher lead one. Does anyone else feel this way? I feel this learning would be beneficial for me (and anyone else) who may feel apprehensive and overwhelmed by the possibilities of dealing with those “dominant individuals that can obliterate alternative points of view” as Knight describes (p. 70). Even with these perceived “obstacles” I do respect that using focus groups could be worthwhile for some of my classmates’ research initiatives and if any of you are thinking of using them, I’m eager to hear/learn more about it.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Margaret English, my hero

In Luker's chapter 5, "Reviewing Literature", she gives us 8 steps to get started with your research project. Her second step is on the importance of courting your reference librarian, and what really hit a soft spot for me. There was a point when doing my undergrad, when I really thought that seeking help from anyone (my professor, librarian or even my peers) meant exposing my stupidity. But even more than that, I did not want to be a nuisance, asking people for help. I can really relate Luker's comments on the independent researcher trying to do it all on their own. With so much information out there it is hard to weed through it and find something useful for you and your topic. I spent a lot of my undergrad being overwhelmed in the library stacks and on my laptop, trying to sift through it all.

That is, until Margaret English rode in on her white horse, in shining armour. On the first day of one the most important and influential seminars, Margaret (who is the Art Librarian at U of T) gave us a presentation on library resources that would be helpful to know for our research projects. At the very end she said something along the lines of "if you don't remember anything from this 15 minute presentation, it does matter, because you have me". And we did have her, and we used her, and she did not mind at all.

Lesson learned, take advantage of the most amazing and helpful resource: your friendly neighbourhood/academic librarian. This is their job and what they went to school for after all.

"The Grad School Skim"

When I was in my fourth year at the University of Guelph, a professor told me about something she called "The Grad School Skim." This was by far one of the most useful things I learned during my time at Guelph, and ended up being a technique I used to survive an MA. Hammered with more journal articles than I could possibly read, like, ever, I read the introduction and conclusion to get the thesis and the author's findings. If I had time, I then went back to read the first and last sentences of each paragraph to better understand how they reached their conclusion. I passed it onto colleagues of mine in my program, and they all agreed it was a great technique, and one that could be used for other works (like monographs).

So, when I was reading Lukar's description of "Harvarding," I smiled to myself. First, because "Harvarding" is a way cooler name than "the grad school skim." Second, I smiled because she gave me ways to better perfect this research/reading tool. Perhaps the most helpful advice I learned from Lukar's description of "Harvarding"was "If I'm not getting it, it's her (or his) fault" (Lukar, 2008, p. 94). Sometimes, when I'm reading a text and I don't get it, I absolutely think it's my fault. I think to myself, "This has been published, clearly it's my fault that I'm just not getting it." I always consider that it may be important to my research, so I should use all my brainpower and make myself understand. This, apparently, is how I wasted a lot of precious, grad student time.

Thank you Lukar, for having faith in my intelligence, and for telling me that I spent a lot of time on what were probably bad books.
I continue to be surprised, and pleased, at how practical both Luker and Knight are when it comes to addressing the "how" of doing research - not only in terms of communicating the steps of formulating a research question and doing a literature review, but in terms of understanding the emotions that go along with trying to do research (especially for the first time). It may be that I am just a really big research wimp, but I find Luker's frequent "it's going to be okay, I know this sounds overwhelming but you can do it" types of comments (followed by actual, usable advice) so helpful. I can't think of any other instance where class readings have given me permission to feel a certain way about doing academic work. 

This week, I was especially fond of Luker's "Harvarding" technique. I regularly fall into the trap of feeling like I need to thoroughly read every single thing in every single article I am assigned - this ends in me being overwhelmed and, often, avoiding doing readings altogether because the idea of trying to read everything as thoroughly as seems necessary is just too much. I could so relate to Luker's statement that, "Often enough, confronted with such a huge pile [of books], I just took a nap" (94). Story of my life. 

So the idea of Harvarding is pretty exciting. Giving myself only twenty minutes trying to get useful information from a book will, I hope, greatly change my current nap-to-reading ratio. The ideas of making a book "earn more of [my] precious time," and of thinking, "If I'm not getting it, it's [the author's] fault," are pretty new to me, but are a big relief. It has never occurred to me that I could think that way (because the authors are the experts and the professionals, and I am not), but it's true that in my experience, academic writing is often not written in a way that seems mindful of its audience of readers. The idea that what I think, what I am interested in, and how I understand certain scholarly materials is actually significant - and not just as a sign of some deficiency in my brain that makes me incapable of understanding the points of articles - is a freeing one. 

Still drawing…

It seems that this week’s readings elaborate further and offer some advice on some of the concerns I’d had last week about devising a good research question. Ideas about ‘framing’ the question come up in Luker, and I had some mixed feelings about some of the points. I like the advice to read anything that piques your interest, even if it doesn’t exactly seem relevant at the time. At least for me, even reflecting on some of the kinds things I’ve enjoyed reading relatively recently, even though they are a bit all over the map, could at least help in guiding my own thinking toward what I might like to pursue. Nevertheless, being in the LIS program I do have the feeling that ultimately I’d want to frame something relevant to that.

Luker’s discussion of the “cocktail party” metaphor made me kind of uneasy though. I can see the value in looking at a journal or conference to see if your work would fit in there, and using the kinds of things published as a guide for framing your own work. But at the same time it seems kind of deceptive to “pretend your topic of interest is connected…even if it’s not”. Putting it this way seems to suggest that the framing and presentation is just as, if not more, imperative to the work’s success than the work itself. Hmm...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

"The Literature"

For me, wading through "the literature" has often been the hardest part of my past research projects. The sheer amount of information available both in-print and online seems daunting and often leaves me with more questions than I had before I began researching. Chapter 5 of Luker's book proved to be quite interesting for this reason, particularly her section on "Harvarding" (93). Though it's a rookie mistake, I often find myself spending too much time on one book when I have many others to scan for relevant information, leaving me frustrated and feeling like a poor researcher. Luker's method of giving yourself 20 minutes to get as much as you can out of a specific book (95) may seem elementary, but I think timing myself would certainly improve my productivity and make the act of reading research materials all the more manageable. Luker's bedraggled daisy (81) is also an excellent tool for making connections about research interests, and attempting to create my own daisy has helped me see what kinds of things my particular area of interest relates to. This is good, as I have yet to come up with a specific research question! I do know that am interested in the digitization of library materials and how digital resources are affecting literacy levels and education amongst remote or impoverished communities. Reading Luker's fifth chapter could not have come at a better time for me, as I am at the point where consulting "the literature" is the only way I can begin to narrow my topic and devise a question from it. The task of sorting through the vast amount of information at my disposal seems less daunting with Luker's advice and suggested methods. For this reason, I found myself relating much more to her chapters than Knight's, at least for this week. I found Knight's chapter informative, but I just didn't connect with it the same way that I connected with Luker. So far, Knight has read as a textbook for me, whereas Luker has seemed more like a guide (if that makes any sense at all). Does anyone else feel this way?

Beware of “faux” research questions

While reading Luker, I was intrigued by her suggestion that we can pinpoint whether we have a real research question or are still in the “realm of research interest.” She states that if we’re telling someone about our research work, does the discussion include “something being explained and perhaps something explaining it?” (Luker, 53) According to Luker, the crucial part is whether what you’re saying ends with a question mark. Admittedly I was very excited to read this basic and applicable tip – until I continued reading. It appears that “faux” research questions do exist. (Luker, 53) Confusing much? Well, I learned that these types of questions can sneak their way in without us even noticing. Unless you remember her advice and that is, a real research question will have a set of possible answers.

As someone who needs to know all (or at least most of) the steps and guidelines before embarking on a new idea or project, I feel like I’m gradually making progress in my understanding about research questions, question formation, methodologies, etc. Interestingly though, according to Knight, there really is no set of rules for doing social research.  (Knight, 46) This statement could be enough to discourage potential new researchers (i.e. me), yet admittedly it is clear that researchers should decide what research methods “fit for the purpose of making sense of the topic to be studied.” (Knight, 46) Also just as an aside, I sincerely hope none of us end up in the same situation as Luker’s former student who spent many, many months deciphering the world of research before she finally crafted a good research question!

Research is not what you thought it was. Research is What You Think.

This week began gloriously. I realized that I had a research topic! I even discovered I had major research questions! I realized I knew where to locate the gaps in the current discourse on my topic!  I didn't just have an "interest"! I had the elements of a research work! I knew what I would say to the SSHRC Committee!!! A day later I realized that I can't do this topic at this time because my topic is deeply sociological and has little to do with the Library Sciences... Oh no. I felt completely lost. But today I realize that I got disappointed too early. Maybe I can turn my topic around. Perhaps, someone can help me?

I would like to write about why there is such a discrepancy between North America and Europe in cultural representation and understanding  of one specific profession in theatre, the profession that takes grandiose amount of talent, self-awareness, and skill, the ancient profession of theatrical clown. In Europe, clown is a deeply respected occupation. As an example, much funding goes to such enterprise as therapeutic clowning - using humor to assist in recovery and coping with illness. Dr. Clown exists in North America, but in such insignificant proportions, that, if the topic ever comes up, most people need definition and detailed explanation.

What does everybody think, can I possibly look at representation of clown in North America and examine the arrangement of the information on the subject? I would propose that the way the information is positioned in North American media is responsible for our views and approaches to clown. Or is there a better way to position my research topic in the area of the information sciences?

The readings this week made me think about this over and over.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Journalism and Research

I thought it was interesting that both Luker and Knight made a comparison between researchers and journalists. Luker says that "journalists tell us the who, what, where, and when, but only sociologists tell us the why" (p.55) Though I think oftentimes journalists also include a "why", I find this much more palatable than Knight's argument that researchers serve "higher ideals" than journalists (p.16). Now, to be fair, Knight quotes Seale as saying that, but he seems to agree. I see journalists serving "higher ideals" all the time, exposing all sorts of things that otherwise would remain out of public knowledge realm. How can one say that a person like Christiane Amanpour does not serve "higher ideals"? And if we want to go all postmodern, what are "higher ideals", anyway?

I do agree with the fact that journalists probably spend less time on any given topic, and perhaps don't delve into it as deeply. I just didn't like Searle talking about journalists as scandal mongerers and entertainers.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Salsa Dancing into My First Blog Post

I am surprised and delighted by Luker's book so far! I must admit that, initially, I had no idea what to expect from a book called Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences in terms of readability and relevance to my interests. Luker's book is not only very easy to read, it is also thought-provoking and has really opened my eyes to what I can expect from a course entitled "Research Methods". I really like how Luker encourages her readers to keep a research journal of their own, so that reading her book becomes an interactive experience. I found her comments and experiences with both quantitative and qualitative research methods quite informative. I like how she explored the more macro elements of qualitative research and discussed it as more of a "discovery" type of research– this is definitely the kind of research I identify with. I wish I had more specific and intelligent things to say about Luker's book, but at the moment I will just stick with my general feelings on the book so far and say hello to everyone posting on this blog. I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's posts!:)
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed both the Luker and Knight readings - the chapter in Knight on starting with writing was so practical, and it was instruction that I really needed to hear. I am most comfortable "thinking" on paper (as opposed to out loud) and have often felt that this was a flaw - that because it took me longer to process my thoughts enough to feel comfortable articulating them, I wasn't as "good" a thinker as those very comfortable thinking out loud. But Knight's chapter had such a concrete explanation of why writing is necessary, and such precise instruction on how and what to write in a research journal, and I found these very helpful. I had never really understood how to make my inclination to write through my thoughts work for me, and I finished the reading feeling like I had been given permission to be myself in my academic work.

Both Luker and Knight addressed, in their own ways, some of the realities of being a researcher - the importance of keeping track of your ideas in writing, the difficulty of trying to tether your thoughts to something concrete, the desire for discovery in research as opposed to prediction - and I was surprised by this. What I found, in both Luker and Knight, were chapters that addressed and assuaged very real concerns that I had about doing research. It was unexpected and encouraging.

"Don't hate me because I'm mathematical"

Coming from an education background and being a certified teacher, I think I can see myself choosing a research question that has to do with teaching. Interestingly enough, I was reading an article today about how provincial test scores show children are regressing in their math skills and hate math more than ever before. That got me thinking back to when I was in school. I learned math through repetitive drills and rote practice. Today, this has been replaced with the problem-based “strategies” and estimation techniques. On the surface the solution may be simple – teachers could return to the original teaching methods that some would say is “what worked for them.” What about the students who are thriving in the problem-based strategy learning environment?
Also, regarding the part about hating math, I would have liked to have seen the list of survey questions. Maybe it’s not that kids hate math (as a whole) but just certain kinds of math. And if so, which ones? The article does not specify this. Here’s where the “so what” question that was introduced in class and in our reading comes in to play. Well, maybe that would be the first step in understanding what teachers ought to be doing (the same or differently) when teaching the various math subjects.  Another question is do we assume that all these students who did poorly on the annual EQAO test automatically hate math? Thoughts?
Although I am not a trained social researcher, having gone through teacher’s college where we were taught to be self-reflective in our teaching techniques and strategies, I can relate to Knight’s idea that “researchers should start writing from the moment that they see a glimmer of an inquiry because it helps them to think and to capture their thinking.” (Knight, 1) Relating this to the teaching profession, after a lesson, teachers are supposed to write down their thoughts and ideas about how the teaching and learning went, i.e. did I incorporate all the learning styles in my teaching, were learning objectives achieved, and if not, why not? And so teachers also maintain a kind of “research journal” as presented by Luker. I agree with Luker when she states, “writing engages a very different part of the brain than reading and talking do.” (Luker, 21) Personally, I find I am more of an active learner because I am not only reading and simply absorbing the material, but rather, actually extending and adding my own “two cents” to the “so what” part of the social research question (as I appear to have done when evaluating the article above). I feel like I’ve learned so much already - makes me feel proud to be taking INF 1240!

The first "so what?"

In class (and the first chapter exercise in Luker) we were asked to take 15 minutes and write what we would most like to research. I found the question startling - I hadn't really thought about it and 15 minutes certainly seemed insufficient to come up with an answer that I could be reasonably convinced of.

We discussed how a key part of research is answering "so what?" - in defending its worth to other researchers, peer-review, etc. But it seems that "so what?" can also be tough to answer to oneself when getting started - when faced with a wealth of areas of potential interest, and the uncertainty of a new project, how can I narrow down a question and be reasonably assured that it will turn up something valuable and interesting? Luker seems to be directing the book at students with a question, looking for answers, but takes the formulation of the question itself for granted. Does the question itself matter, or is it more important to start with *a* question?

re: Undergrad Summarized

I am obviously not good at this whole blogging thing - my post on how the Knight reading summarized my undergrad is gone because I was trying to fix the weird white highlighting thing that was happening.

Here is what I had written in the word doc before I figured out how start a new post:

"I really enjoyed Knight's introductory chapter. It was informative and the language was accessible. As I was reading, there was a lot of head nodding and "mhmmm's" going on. Really, I couldn't help but think that this would have been pretty useful in my 1st year undergrad, where I studied Art History and English. Basically, this chapter summarized much of what I had learnt during my undergrad, and is much less traumatizing than the red pen that taught me these lessons."

Knight tells us that writing is critical to the thinking process. I am sure that these research journals are moving to digital space, where we can keep our writings on our computer desktop rather than our kitchentop (where I tend to do all my writing). But there is something to be said for the archaic pen and paper...for one it does not get lost in some unknown and irretrievable space. For another, it seems more informal, which may be more conducive for the thought process. We can also see our "mistakes" on paper, whereas when we type we can make it as if it never happened. There have been many times where I've backspaced and wished I hadn't.

Writing is a Start!

As I am reading the chapter from Knight (2002), Starting with Writing, I become overwhelmed with how applicable his advise for starting a research is to some of my work in the past. Although in the recent years I have not written a single research work, I have been writing creatively for theatre and art collectives. I often indulge in writing as soon as a single spark of an idea appears (“a glimmer of inquiry”, as Knight puts it) and develop it into something completely different in the process. My works often come out awkward and I rarely share my 'private writing' with peers and never save the original versions after they’ve been edited! I am like the brilliant Portuguese who "navigated with bad albeit beautiful maps" (Luker, 2010)! Right?..

I am excited to start creating a work of research making sure to keep record of all the changing directions and perspectives. I am anxious to practice the principles of research paper writing, such as consulting with peers, connecting my thoughts to other literature, and making sure my opinion is worth voicing.  Different from my past practice, these essential principles of developing a work will do much good for my writing style. Awesome.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

It's a small, small world!

Here goes - my first ever blog posting!

This one is more of a general "information is awesome" type of post. Elison and I have just discovered that not only do we have three out of four courses in common this semester, but we're both from Moscow, and we both moved to Canada at about 16-17, around the same year.

I just thought it was really neat, and, as Elison observed, a great example of how information can bring people together!