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  • Writer's pictureCigdem Sengul

Onwards and Upwards

I wanted to end this year with a gratitude post. This has been a challenging year - I've lost both (and my last) grandparents to COVID, and lost a friend to something I still do not know what. I could not attend any of the funerals; I also had to stay in the UK when my mom had a significant operation in Turkey. No travel, stuck at home and sometimes worried sick of getting sick and for others who are sick...

However, I want to start the new year with a show of gratitude and not succumb to despair. So, these were my highlights this year:

  • In January 2020, I started my new job at Brunel University! I've been very warmly welcomed, and now, feel like I've been working there forever.

  • I have led the department's Athena SWAN application, and in September, our Bronze Award was conferred. We have a fantastic set of projects and am looking forward to making those happen with a brilliant team.

  • I've applied for and gotten a small grant from the Human-Data Interaction Network and ran a design workshop for the THRIDI project in November with two incredible new collaborators, Arthi Manohar and Jiahong Chen.

  • I've continued our work in ACM-W Europe, preparing lots of newsletters and blogs, and adding to Wikipedia, cheering for all the women who deserve recognition.

  • I've completed my Mental Health First Aid course, and feeling more aware thanks to this training.

Until March, we were such airlings with worries ever so small, and then the pandemic hit, and I've been working mostly from home since! I am most grateful for:

  • Staying healthy even though we had to self-isolate

  • My family and love and support we've shown each other

  • The internet and how it connected to my loved ones and my work

I've tried to work with enthusiasm even, like the rest of the world, I was isolated from my colleagues. I started good things but looking forward to:

  • Continue my teaching and leadership in turning a large module into a web-programming project module with UN sustainable development goals and social entrepreneurship at its heart.

  • Work across disciplines for a trustworthy IoT

  • Contribute standardisation groups - my IETF work has moved on albeit slowly due to having to reprioritise work and child care.

Now, onwards and upwards, because...

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. -L.P. Hartley, writer (30 Dec 1895-1972)

PS: The image inspired by my reading Independent People by Halldór Laxness, Icelandic author and Nobel Laureate, and who reminded me of the cairns I saw in Iceland.

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