Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Arts




Dénommé-Welch, Spy


This thesis is my personal, educational, and embodied journey of a female Chinese student learner who has travelled across contexts for education in both Canada and my home country China. Using a self-study approach, this thesis examines how embodied knowledge informs my educational experiences and learning in different contexts. I question the taken-for-granted knowledge (Greene, 1995) existing in the education I have received, and challenge the assumptions I have toward my learning. Through processes of creative writing, new knowledge and understandings emerges and I explore possibilities of how knowledge can be considered, in fluid and malleable ways shaped by different cultural contexts. Inspired by the documentary Schooling the World directed by Carol Black (2010), as well as many other literatures, I bring in first-person source materials like poems, land-based reflections, and narratives to explore my understandings of the role of knowledge and education. In this process, I also explore the clashing nature of my educational journey within, and in-between different educational contexts is shaped by different forces. My thesis project takes up various themes and questions around the implications of education in the 21st century; specifically, I consider the following themes: (1) the role of embodied knowledge and land-based approaches to learning; (2) representations of resilience in academic and social environments; (3) different proximities to spaces of learning and knowing; and finally, (4) the role of intersectionality and liminal space in learning as an international student. As an emerging scholar, I reflect on my lived experiences of acquiring an education in both Chinese and Canadian contexts, and how a methodology of self-study allows my imagination and creative expression to animate various themes in this thesis.

Summary for Lay Audience

I am a student from Jiangxi, China, who has attended different schools in both China and Canada. In this thesis, I draw on self-reflexive (self-study) methods to engage my writing through narrative components, land-based reflections, and poetry in ways that illustrate how one can learn from their own past and learn about the importance of living in the present through educational experiences. This approach helps to reconsider how knowledge occurs and emerges within various educational contexts and lived experiences. I acknowledge that my education is deeply influenced by my culture and therefore am compelled to challenge the presumed view of education and knowledge; if not examine the assumptions which may or may not exist as a result. Consequently, I am interested in exploring how knowledge can present in many different forms and cultural contexts. Arguably, new knowledges emerge when an individual is open to learning in new ways. As a result, several questions were considered for this project, beginning by responding questions posed in Carol Black’s documentary Schooling the World (2010) and other significant literatures that are relevant with my interest of inquiry in this thesis. Building on to these sources, I take into consideration the following themes, (1) how knowledge is expressive and how I learn from my situated learning contexts; (2) resilience and flexibility in academic and social settings; (3) the geographical closeness with the learning environments; and (4) diversity, intersectionality, and liminal space in international students’ learning. As a student for twenty-two years, I am reflecting on the educational experience in China and Canada. A project that starts with learning from myself can support my imagination and help to explore the different topics of this thesis.