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Zhenyi Li's Acceptance Speech for the Kelly Outstanding Teaching Award

January 5, 2012
Zhenyi Li

(acceptance speech from November 2011)

Dear President, Vice Presidents, Deans, colleagues and Kelly Outstanding Teaching Award Committee,

I literally spent a whole afternoon writing this. I think you need to consider award recipient speech writing as an extra workload for your faculty members.

The reason I wrote so slowly is because I feel both honoured and humbled to receive this award today.

I feel honoured because I get this rare chance to be listed along with excellent colleagues who have won this prize before. I still have a lot to learn from you.

I feel humbled because I am aware that there are many core and associate faculty members are committed for quality teaching and learning who have been short listed along with my application for this award. I also have a lot to learn from you, Professor Terry Power and Kim Gunning-Mooney.

Therefore, I don’t think this award today is only for me. I believe many other members at RRU community deserve an award as such. I like to take this opportunity to give my thanks to faculty, staff, and learners at RRU. Each of them plays a key role in supporting or guiding my teaching here.

Our program associates should be acknowledged. Without them, I don’t know how to connect with my learners.

Our CTET colleagues should be thanked as well. They help me to create a productive learning process much more delicious than a bowl of noodle.

Our Office of Research and Writing Centre colleagues should be acknowledged. They are great teachers for research ethics and research paper writing.

Our colleagues at University Life should be thanked here. Without their smiling faces and gentle guidance for our learners, I may end up in a classroom full of frustrated eyes and absented minds.

Our computer help desk should be acknowledged not only because the learners find solutions from you but also because my teaching could not be outstanding without your kind support.

Our Library and Bookstore colleagues should be thanked. Everyone knows a teacher cannot teach in front of the learners with no books.

Our gardeners should be acknowledged. The best class I ever taught, according to feedback from my learners, was the one in the garden with you. We learned a lot from you and our mother nature.

Of course, my dear colleagues at School of Communication and Culture should be acknowledged. In particular, David, Jennifer and Phillip, previous winners or a runner-up for this award, you have set up the benchmark so high that many people, including me, may feel uncertain if we shall apply for this prestige award.

Anyway, I feel fortunate to be one of your colleagues at the School of Communication and Culture, and bring another Kelly award to our School display case.

Another significant group of people I like to give special thanks to is our learners. All the courses I have been teaching at RRU did not exist in Canada six years ago. Our Intercultural and International Communication Master’s degree program is the only one of its kind in Canada. The graduates and current learners in MA-IIC program give their sincere trust and support to me and my colleagues here to develop and deliver brand new courses since 2005. They are not simply guinea pigs for testing these courses. They are co-writers in my courses. Many teaching materials, videos, stories, and web pages I am now using in my courses are created or shared by my learners. In my class, we call each other co-learners because I promote “knowledge exchange” and interactive learning.

If there is one thing I am still struggling with in terms of teaching and learning, that is the limited opportunities for the learners to achieve higher regarding intercultural competence and global citizenship. Foreign travel, diverse teamwork, training in classroom, and overseas assignments are believed to be the “four strategies” to reach such a goal according to Gregersen, Morrison, and Black (1998, p.23). I have initiated and led two overseas residencies for the learners and this tradition is carried on in the MAIIC program. For that, I have been selected as the recipient of CBIE’s Innovation in International Education Award. CBIE stands for Canadian Bureau for International Education. I am receiving that award in two weeks in Ottawa. I am glad that RRU is highly profiled in CBIE’s event as an institution devoting for innovative learning. However, a three-week overseas residency should not be all we can do. I hope one day it is possible for our learners to learn together with at least 9 universities around the world simultaneously for two years with continuous online and in residency interactions.

Finally, I like to thank each of you giving me time to share these thoughts with you.