• Golbon Moltaji Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Ottawa



Immigration, art-based autoethnography, Immigrant Suffering, Post-graduate Migration


This study is an art-based autoethnography that examines the author’s first-hand experience of immigration-related adversities in four drawings created during transitioning to permanent residency in Canada via the Post Graduate Work Permit Program. The article takes a different route from the studies which acknowledge immigrants’ experiences of social suffering yet, explore the possibilities of eventual integration through adaptation and acculturation for immigrants. This article argues that marking suffering as an organic part of integration normalizes suffering and, even can be perceived as an attempt to eliminate the presence of suffering from the discourse. More importantly, this article emphasizes that the social suffering of immigrants cannot be comprehended separately from the entirety of a society that undoubtedly plays a part in inducing their suffering. Artistic content includes the researcher’s drawings made during her time under PGWPP that express her relation to the social landscape in Canada as an international post-graduate transitioning to permanent residency.

Author Biography

Golbon Moltaji, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Ottawa

Golbon Moltaji is a PhD student at the University of Ottawa. Her dissertation focuses on Canada’s Post graduate Work Permit Program as the primary pathway for international students to immigrate in Canada.

Golbon received her master’s degree from the University of Windsor in Human Kinetics with specialization in motor control and learning. She is an avid visual artist and has been making drawings and paintings since a very young age.


Andrade, M.S. (2006). International students in English-speaking Universities: Adjustment Factors. Journal of Research in International Education. 5 (2). 131-154.

Baraniuk, C. (April 15th, 2015). The World’s Loneliest May Not be Alone After all. BBC Earth. Retrieved from:

Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social science & Medicine, 51(6), 843-857.

Brooks, R., & Waters, J. (2013). Student Mobilities, Migration and the Internationalization of Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan.

Belkhodja, C., & Esses, V. (2013). Improving the assessment of international students’ contribution to Canadian society. Knowledge Synthesis, Pathways to Prosperity Partnership.

Bourdieu, P. (2001). The forms of Capital. In M. Granovetter & R. Swedberg (Eds.), The Sociology of Economic Life, 96-110, Westview Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of taste. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Harvard UP.

Buchner, A.P. (2012). Bird on a Wire: Freeing the Father Within Me. Qualitative Inquiry. 18 (2), 168 – 173.

Canadian Bureau for International Education CBIE (2016). Facts and Figures:

____ (2015). A World of Learning: CBIE launches status report on Canada’s performance in international education. Retrieved from:

CIC (December 11, 2012). Attracting the best and brightest skilled workers. (Press release). Retrieved from:

____ (2012). Fact Sheet – Stay in Canada After Graduation, Retrieved from:

____ (2012). Fact Sheet Provincial Nominee Program. Retrieved from:

Chenail, R. J. (2008). But is it research? A Review of Patricia Leavy’s Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. The Qualitative Report, 13(3), 7-12.

Chira, S. (2016). In a Class of Their Own. Doctoral Dissertation, Dalhousie University, Halifax.

Collins, E. C., and S. Chandler. 1993. Beyond art as product: Using an artistic perspective to understand classroom life. Theory Into Practice 32(4): 199–203.

Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and development, Government of Canada (DFATD) (2014). Canada’s International Education Strategy. Harnessing our knowledge advantage to drive innovation and prosperity. Retrieved from:

De Leeuw, M., & Van Wichelen, S. (2012). Civilizing migrants: Integration, culture and citizenship. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(2), 195-210.

Derry, C. (2005). Drawings as a research tool for self-study: An embodied method of exploring memories of childhood bullying. In C. Mitchell, S. Weber, & K. O’Reilly-Scanlon (Eds.), Just who do we think we are?: Methodologies for autobiography and self-study in teaching (pp. 34–46). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.

Djajić, S. (2003). Assimilation of immigrants: Implications for human capital accumulation of the second generation. Journal of population economics, 16(4), 831-845.

Durkheim, E. (1951). Suicide: A study in sociology (JA Spaulding & G. Simpson, trans.). Glencoe, IL: Free Press.(Original work published 1897).

Finley, S., & Knowles, J. G. (1995). Researcher as artist/artist as researcher. Qualitative inquiry, 1(1), 110-142.

Forde, S. D. (2013). Fear and loathing in Lesotho: An autoethno graphic analysis of sport for development and peace. International review for the sociology of sport, 50(8), 958-973.

Galarza, E. (2014). Barrio boy. University of Notre Dame Pess.

Gibbens, S. (March, 23rd, 2018). More Than 150 Whales Fled the Sea. Why? National Geographic. Retrieved from:

Greaber, D. (May 18th, 2018). What’s the Point of Pointless Jobs? The Globe and Mail.

Hage, R. (2008). Cockroach. House of Anansi.

Henley, K. (2016). Reconciling the Virtues of Humanity and Respect for the Rule of Law: Irregular Immigration from the Perspective of Humean Virtue Ethics. Citizenship and Immigration-Borders, Migration and Political Membership in a Global Age, 153-162. Springer, Cham.

Hernández-Ojeda, C. (2017) The Night My Father Stopped Breathing. A Story of Love, Machismo, and Liberation. Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Champaign. IL.

Hou, F. & Bonikowska, A. (2015). The Earnings Advantage of Landed Immigrants Who Were Previously Temporary Residents in Canada, Statistics Canada. Retrieved from:

Howells. R, & Negreiros, J. (2013). Visual Culture. 2nd Edition, Polity, Cambridge.

Hron, M. (2009). Translating pain: Immigrant suffering in literature and culture. University of Toronto Press.

International Students in Canada. Journal of International Students 6(4), 873 – 886.

Keenan, J., & Evans, A. (2014). The Use if Estrangement Autoethnography in Higher Education Teaching. Worcester Journal of Learning and Teaching, 9, 118-127.

Kelly, N. T. (2012). International Students as Immigrants: Transition Challenges and Strengths of Current and Former Students (Doctoral dissertation, MA thesis, Ryerson University, Toronto).

Khawaja, N. G. & Stallman, H. M. (2011) Understanding the coping strategies of international students: a qualitative approach. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 21(2), pp. 203-224.

Lanthorn, K (2017). Resisting: Decolonizing Narratives of Silences Between Being and Belonging, Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Champaign, IL.

McNiff, S. (1998). Art-based research. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Mitchell, C. Theron, L. Sturat, J. Smith, A. & Campbell, Z. (2011). Drawings as Research Method in Mitchell, C. Theron, L. Sturat, J. Smith, A (Eds.). SENSE PUBLISHERS.

Neiterman, E., Salmonsson, L., & Bourgeault, I. L. (2015). Navigating otherness and belonging: A comparative case study of IMGs' professional integration in Canada and Sweden. Ephemera, 15(4), 773.

Osvath, C. (2017) as presented in Arts-Based Research: Between evocative autoethnography and artistic media: An arts-based re-imagining of ‘Bird on the Wire.’ Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Champaign, IL.

Perisco, E. (2017). The 52 Hertz Whale: A Symbol of Loneliness And Connection. Awesome Ocean. Retrieved from:

Pickrell, J. (2004). U.S. Navy Sonar May Harm Killer Whales, Expert Says. National Geographic. Retrieved from:

Pham, T., Bao, D., Saito, E., & Chowdhury, R. (2018). Employability of international students: Strategies to enhance their experience on work-integrated learning (WIL) programs. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 9(1), 62-83.

Picot, G. Hou, F. & Coulombe, S. (2007). Chronic Low Income and Low-income Dynamics Among Recent Immigrants. Statistics Canada. Ottawa. Canada.

Pithouse, K. (2011). Picturing the Self: Drawing as a method for Self-Study in Method in Mitchell, C. Theron, L. Sturat, J. Smith, A (Eds.). SENSE PUBLISHERS.

Rajkumar, D., Berkowitz, L., Vosko, L. F., Preston, V., & Latham, R. (2012). At the temporary–permanent divide: how Canada produces temporariness and makes citizens through its security, work, and settlement policies. Citizenship Studies, 16(3-4), 483-510.

Rienties, B., Beausaert, S., Grohnert, T., Niemantsverdriet, S., & Kommers, P. (2012). Understanding academic performance of international students: the role of ethnicity, academic and social integration. Higher education, 63(6), 685-700.

Robertson, S. & Runganaiko, A. (2014a). Lives in limbo: Migration experience: in Australia’s education–migration nexus. Ethnicities. 14(2) 208–226.

Robertson, S. (2014b) Time and Temporary Migration: The Case of Temporary Graduate Workers and Working Holiday Makers in Australia, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40(12), 1915-1933.

Scott, C., Safdar, S., Trilokekar, R. D. & El Masri, A. (2015) International Students as ‘Ideal Immigrants in Canada: A disconnect between policy makers’ assumptions and the lived experiences of international students, Comparative and International Education, 43 (3).

Sheller, M. & Urry, J. (2006). The New Mobilities Paradigm. Environment and Planning. A(38), 207 – 226.

Skeggs, B. (Oct. 17th, 2013) Values Beyond Value? Is Anything Beyond the Logic of Capital? Lecture at Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics and Political Science

Skeggs, B. (2004). Exchange, value and affect: Bourdieu and ‘the self’. The Sociological Review, 52(2_suppl), 75-95.

Smith, R. & Khawaja, N. G. (2011). A review of the acculturation experiences of international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(6). 699-713.

Stein, S. de Andreotti, V.O. (2016). Cash, competition, or charity: international students and the global imaginary. High Educ 72. 225–239.

Talpalar, A. E., & Grossman, Y. (2005). Sonar versus whales: noise may disrupt neural activity in deep-diving cetaceans.

Thomson, C. & Esses, V.M. (2016). Helping the Transition: Mentorship to Support

The Number of Foreign Born in Canada (2017). Statcan. Retrieved from:

The Chamber Report. (2016). The Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Trovato, F. (1986). A time series analysis of international immigration and suicide mortality in Canada. International journal of social psychiatry, 32(2), 38-46.

Urry, J. (2016). The place of emotions within place. In Emotional geographies (pp. 91-98). Routledge.

Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities. Polity.

Yusof, M. A. B., & Kabir, S. (2012). An overview of sonar and electromagnetic waves for underwater communication. IETE Technical Review, 29(4), 307-317.




How to Cite

Moltaji, G. (2020). POST GRADUATE WORK PERMIT AND SOCIAL SUFFERING: (A CASE STUDY). Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 5(2), 345–375.