Marsaili Macleod tells us about her role as programme coordinator for Gaelic, as well as her love of teaching, exercise and the great outdoors.
Tell us about your role at the University
I am currently undergraduate programme co-ordinator for Gaelic at the University, where I work closely with colleagues to deliver our undergraduate Gaelic degree programme, supervise doctoral research students and conduct research on Gaelic language revitalisation.
Involvement in extra-curricular activities for Gaelic is also part of my role, such as the Gaelic singing circle (Cearcall Seinn) which I’ve run for six years (and is open to staff, students and members of the public alike, if any readers are interested!).
How do you usually start your day?
I usually spring out of bed, grab a banana and do some exercise, which might be joining a spinning class or swimming at the Sports Village, or some hill reps on my bike from home. I’ll then cycle or drive to the office, where I’ll enjoy a wee blether with Evelyn and Arthur, two of Taylor Building’s treasures. During term time my teaching typically starts at 9am and I find that the endorphins generated by exercise energise my teaching and, I believe, benefit my students (although some claim I am a little too enthusiastic for 9am!).
During the summer I like to prioritise creative work, such as analysing data or writing, at the start of the working day as this is when I am most productive.
What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?
I first came to the University of Aberdeen in 1998 to undertake a taught Masters course in Rural and Regional Resources Planning (RRRP). I was attracted to Aberdeen because of its international research reputation for rural affairs. Some years later in 2011, and having completed a PhD in the Geography Department here, I took up my first post to work in the RCUK Digital Economy Hub, dot.rural. Six months later I applied for a lectureship in Gaelic Studies, which is funded through Soillse, the inter-university research network for the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
I find it very rewarding is to be part of students’ Gaelic language learning journey, and to help students develop over the course of their studies. I always feel it is a privilege to be involved in research with the Gaelic community and to share with students aspects of the language and culture which I feel so passionately about and which is such an important part of my own identity.
I also enjoy the camaraderie of my colleagues, whose friendship and support makes the challenging and stressful times so much more tolerable!
What are your work priorities at the moment?
I am writing this in July, thus I am taking pleasure in being ‘in the field’ (I have recently returned from a research trip to the Isle of Lewis), and in the creative process of academic writing. I am currently editing a book on Gaelic revitalisation, which is an outcome of the Soillse research collaboration. I am also prioritising completing two journal articles on adult language learning. I have a PhD student nearing completion thus commenting on chapter drafts to enable her to submit on time is also an important priority.
Finally, I am applying for to be a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy – something that has been on my ‘to do’ list since I started teaching in 2011!
How do you like to relax outside work?
I enjoy exploring the great outdoors. I am a keen road cyclist and, having commenced swimming lessons at ASV when it opened, I am now excited to be exploring Scotland’s lochs and lochans with more competent swimmers! But I think I am happiest when listening to live music and playing traditional music – I have recently taken up the squeeze box, but in company I stick to the piano. On a Tuesday evening you can find me singing with Còisir Ghàidhlig Obar Dheathain (Aberdeen Gaelic Choir), which I find is a great way to relax and enjoy the company of good friends.