Assistant Professor of Geography
Born in India and raised in Vancouver, Pablo Bose moved to Vermont in 2006. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English and history from the University of British Columbia, and his Master’s degree in Communications. Pablo earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from New York University. He is now an Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Vermont.
I know there are people who have a lot of reservations, and that there are different challenges in moving to a new place, but I have always found Vermont to be a really good base for me.
I was born in India and my family moved back and forth between India and Canada when I was little. Eventually we settled in Vancouver when I was 12.
I’m from a community that’s called the Bengali community. In Toronto there’s something like 15,000 Bengali’s, but in Vancouver there were 40 families. Our community was very integrated into primarily white but also Chinese-Canadian culture, so I’ve grown up in a fairly assimilated fashion.
I got a Canadian government post-doc to come here to Vermont. It was always a short-term idea that I’d be here for two years and then probably return to Canada. I knew nothing about Vermont when I came here, I didn’t know anyone.
I went from working and living in cities of 4 and 6 million — in India of 12, 14, 16 million people — to Burlington. So it was a big shock. On the other hand, the smaller scale was something that really appealed to me. Being able to walk to work, ride my bike to work; it’s such a nice place to be in so many ways.
One of the things I liked about coming here was that it reminded me of certain things back home, of the mountains and the water. That’s something that I really missed. When I lived in Toronto, there were no mountains and I really, really missed them.
In my personal workplace, my department is very diverse. But I would like to see the university make much greater attempts to build the student population from diverse communities here. I feel that the university makes good efforts to draw in diverse students from different background from other places, but I would like to see UVM do a better job of trying to bring in people from the refugee community as students.
I travel a lot, and the worst racism I’ve experienced first-hand is in Hong-Kong and other parts of Asia. Here, the demographic disparity is so high that I always say you have to be like 10 percent of the population to be threatening. I teach a course on race and ethnicity here, I work a lot with the refugee population and I also have been involved with the anti-racial profiling project here. I certainly see these things happening here. They tend to happen more as a confluence in what I see as class, race, gender, and to some degree religion. For me, I don’t think I deal with a lot of those because I’m in the university, in a position of being relatively privileged. I’m in a bit of a bubble because of the profession that I’m in so I haven’t really experienced it. But [in Vermont] it’s really negligible to what I’ve seen in other places, or what I’ve experienced.
Over all I think that there are many more pros to cons of living here. The biggest challenge here isn’t whiteness, I don’t think it’s race. I do find Burlington challenging sometimes because there’s not a lot of diversity, not in terms of race, but in terms of lifestyles. You have the lifestyle of being a student, and there are older Vermonters. But in Burlington it’s really dominated by something I don’t think is in the rest of Vermont, which is a very yuppie culture. I sometimes find that difficult to negotiate.
I think that having a little bit of a fix of diversity is important. If you can go to Boston or New York every once in a while that makes it much more feasible. But overwhelmingly I find Vermont to be an extremely friendly place to live. It’s a relatively safe, clean community and I really like living here. I’ve spent a lot of time working in the slums, so it takes a lot for me to not like a place, but I find Vermont to be a particularly pleasant place to live. I have very few complaints.