My research mentor is Dr. Rosemary Shinko. During our initial meeting on Monday, August 21 for a half and hour, she helped me understand the importance of having an international theory as the basis of my research. Because I am seeking to express the marginalized voice of immigrants and refugees, Dr. Shinko suggested Critical Theory be the core of my SIS research. However, I am not completely certain that Critical Theory is best; I think it’s possible that the international identity of refugees and immigrants, as a whole, could be an aspect inhibiting integration. Constructivism focuses on identity and relationships in the international community, so I am wondering if it could also be a possible theory for my research.

I then explained my hopes in focusing my research on the struggles of immigrants and refugees and why there is such a negative perception of them. We discussed my interest in humanizing refugees and immigrants and the best ways to humanize others. She suggested I read articles from Millennium and other international studies journals. From my reading, I learned about what types of research has already been conducted on my topic. It helped me better understand how I am going to enter the conversation, but I am still uncertain what angle I would like to take on the issue or how I can be most objective.

My mentor also posed interesting questions such as who will intervene with my research? Humanizing refugees and immigrants can come from resistance movements, NGOs, religious organizations, or governments. I know it will be important to narrow my research, and my mentor advised me to start by focusing on a specific community: refugees or immigrants? After sharing my experience volunteering in the immigrant community, Dr. Shinko suggested I focus there. While I do enjoy researching and working with the immigrant community, I aspire to have a regional focus in the Middle East/North Africa where refugees are the predominant category of foreigners entering the country. I am conflicted because I have an interest in helping both communities.

After following up with my mentor for a second half an hour meeting on Monday September 11, 2017, I have more resources for further investigating my topic. Dr. Shinko recommended I start reading international relations journals and gave me a list including: Millennium, International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, etc. My mentor advised that I read what people are saying, understand what it means to humanize a community, and how people are using the act of humanizing in the field of international relations. Because I don’t have a research question or specific focus, Dr. Shinko recommended I study the possible routes or pathways for my research first. My next step, according to her, is to be like a sponge and absorb the current information on my topic before attempting to find methodologies or formulate a question.