David St. John, a Ph.D. Candidate in English Literature at Georgia State University, was awarded a Georgia State University Dissertation Library Travel Award.
The award, which grants doctoral students with financial assistance to support their research travel, aided St. John’s travel to Hong Kong Island to conduct research on human trafficking for his dissertation. St. John’s research focuses on the concept of traffic. He has devoted time to researching automobile traffic, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. St. John hopes to propose a new way of looking at the environment through the lens of traffic.
While in Hong Kong, St. John conducted research with the University of Hong Kong, the city library, and the Po Leung Kuk Museum.
Po Leung Kuk started as a community organization in 1878 during a time when abduction and trafficking of women and children were prevalent in Hong Kong. The organization was created to rescue the kidnapped victims. “Po Leung” translates to protection of the young and the innocent and was originally called Society for the Protection of Women and Children. Today, Po Leung Kuk serves as a charitable organization, a school, and a museum. While St. John hopes to use his research to propose a new way of looking at the environment through the lens of traffic, he is very clear on the benefit of being able to conduct this portion of his research in Hong Kong.
He says, “Being able to have knowledge of the stories of another culture or history of another culture is vital to understanding how we can live in a world that’s globalizing without trying to assimilate everybody into one big mass of people.”
This award has impacted St. John both professionally and personally. Professionally, St. John says Hong Kong was a wonderful place for his research, and through his extensive research there, he feels he has grown as a scholar and professional researcher. Additionally, St. John believes the award also helped his future career goals. “My research in Hong Kong directly led to the paper I presented at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in early July,” St. John says. “My conference paper laid the groundwork for a chapter of my dissertation.”
On a personal level, St. John says, “I feel more confident in my ability to travel and the ability to take what’s outside, what’s happening in the world and apply it to literature.”
St. John advises students who are thinking of applying for the dissertation library travel award to just go for it. He believes research trips are just as crucial to a dissertation paper as the primary texts. He says, “There’s no reason not to. I did not think I was going to get this award, but I did. So, if I can get it, you can probably get it.”
The Dissertation Travel Award is only possible through the support of library donors. To support scholars like David, give to the Library Research Award Fund (020061)
Article written in collaboration with Tess Havash