Dear extraordinary women researchers of our future,
I am grateful to have the opportunity to share insights and life lessons with you, in hopes you will do the same in your later years, but also to wish you well – as by now you are all a force to reckon with in the realm of tourism research!
Find and Maintain Passion and Perseverance
First, my philosophy in life has been to persevere no matter what the challenge…and putting my personal challenges into perspective is keeping this in check. My advice is to find a peace or balance in what you love and are passionate about. Learn to listen to your body and do whatever it takes to keep yourself healthy, in mind, spirit and physical fitness—without it we are generally less creative, productive, and happy.
I think by now you will be addressing the “wicked problems” facing all facets of society today. There won’t be tourism motivated by culture, nature, and attractions, if we do not care for the environment that keeps us healthy. My guess is you will be driven by what we can do to help the planet, people, and economies around the world. Whatever the case may be, seek areas of research you are passionate about, you ponder about, and you seek answers for. We need those that care, that inflame, that find a way positively impact the world while we are on in it.
Build Friendships, Collaboration, and Community
Much of what has fueled my passion and perseverance, has been the ability to have friends who care about the same sort of things I do, and to build collaborations with those that don’t. We need, require, and should support insights, perspectives and research that brings the diversity of perspectives to address challenges faced, and create viable, long-term solutions. Surrounding ourselves with like-mindedness, though often comforting and reassuring, and perhaps even validating, will not move the needle forward. Therefore, interdisciplinary teams will be useful and provide challenging ways to think, re-think, and think again about how to approach problems and find solutions.
I have not always taken the time I should to really appreciate the tremendous privilege it is to work as a researcher in an academic environment. While we have challenges, as in all professions, it is a place where we support our passions, study, learn, and help influence what happens in the world around us, and with the next generation of leaders – such as you. Be mindful of this, as it may assist in getting through days of institutional bureaucracy, grading, and other aspects of our lives that challenge us.
Be Bold, Compassionate, and Kind
Please take a risk now and then, try something new, fail now and then – you never know when you might move the needle in a positive direction. Be compassionate and kind in all that you do, remember we are on this earth for such a short while, we never have the context for what others might be going through, so take every opportunity to understand with compassion and kindness.
Health, Family, and Friends
In the end, your health, family, and friends really matter. No one will ever pine on whether that last article was published, or what you did in your position in academe – what will really matter is whether you were able to sustain a life of health and well-being, build relationships, and help those around you live life to the fullest extent possible!
As I close, I will share a wonderful quote by Rachel Carson, from Silent Spring
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Academic life is truly one of the best professions on the planet—we study or engage in what inspires us, teach what we love, and serve in many capacities in areas we find passion. What can be better than this kind of life—compared to many work activities of the world, we are truly blessed in our professional endeavors!
Vinaka vaka levu, or thank you very big!
Kelly S. Bricker
Hainan University/ASU Joint International Tourism College
School of Community Resources and Development
Watts College of Public Service and Community Development
Phoenix, Arizona, USA