Over the summer, I had an exciting opportunity to attend the 3rd international conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network in Cyprus thanks to the Go Abroad Fund. I submitted an abstract paper which was accepted and included in the conference programme. My paper was “All voices matter “exploring experiences of children and young people in conducting child-led research as a vehicle to influence decision-making processes.”
The Go Abroad fund has a strong academic component and I thought this international conference will connect me to an important academic network that aims to promote the inter-disciplinary study of children and young people. I was complete right! This conference helped me to have a better understanding of the theory and methods in child research using a critical lens to examine epistemological frameworks. The conference also opened my eyes about the emerging channels to engage children in producing knowledge. Many of the attendees were looking at epistemological issues and their impact policy-making and practice and how this work impacts the development of theory and method in child research.
One of my major concerns was to meet many of the scholars who have been writing extensible about these topics, and I felt that as a new comer I will be in a weak position. I believe this feeling was normal as this was my first academic conference. Fortunately, my experience was very positive. The conference opened my mind to new perspectives and equipped me with more tools and knowledge to initiate my career as researcher.
From a personal perspective, this conference was important for my individual development and improved my abilities to interact with peers in a relaxed and positive environment. I also learned many new things about Cyprus and its deep and long-term tension between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and how this affects children from both sides of the island. Each ethic group maintains its own culture, linked to the cultures of Greece and Turkey, and there is little cultural interchange between the two groups.
The Go Abroad gave me a great opportunity to be exposed to different ways of viewing the world and allowed me to be connected with a research environment where the voices of children are clearly heard and understood.