“I point to possibilities, what can happen when people mix and meet and mingle, suggest rectifying, unlearning many of the things we have learned, not just celebrating diversity, but cosmopolitanizing and transforming into a new vision of citizenship education,” Zaidi explained during a presentation to faculty.
“The [research] participants with whom I collaborate represent those who may feel racially, culturally, religiously and linguistically marginalized within the community. Essentially, I work towards collapsing silos among homes, communities and schools so that cultural practices and linguistic systems can become more porous and dialogic.”
Through engaging these communities in her research, Zaidi aims to support them in developing a stronger voice and active role in their education.
“I advocate for unlocking empowerment strategies that enable and support children and adults to function well within their new environment, without losing their former identity, culture and language.”
Her efforts have led to recommendations for province-wide initiatives to support refugee and immigrant families navigating the education system. Zaidi’s innovative work and her commitment to community have been recognized by the City of Calgary, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and by the American Education Researchers Association.
Zaidi is excited to continue her work and connect with educational stakeholders in her new post as a Werklund Research Professor. She says she plans to further engage teacher educators, practitioners, administrators and graduate students in ways that will empower teachers and scholars, but community members too, as they remain a significant part of her research.
Zaidi’s blueprint for collapsing silos between communities includes engaging in methodological innovation, empowering people with training for advocacy in a post-pandemic world and evolving understandings of the shifting linguistic landscapes of education systems
“I envision myself as a scholar-activist, asking the question: ‘How can we help?’”