This article is an autoethnography of how engaging with my previous autoethnographic article facilitated my recovery and self-growth. I wrote my previous piece (Nguyen-Trung, 2022) while stranded in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented me from visiting my grandfather one last time before his passing in 2021. If my past autoethnography focused on the themes of death, grief, and loss, the current article’s autoethnography revolves around awakening, healing, and self-transformation. In this current article, I reflexively look back on my autoethnographic journey and reflect on how it impacted me as a grandchild and a human being on the one hand, and a qualitative sociologist and a writer on the other. I tell stories of how, since writing my first autoethnography and sharing it with others, whether at an academic conference, a meeting, a social encounter, or via a social media post, I managed to overcome the darkest time of my life and gradually heal my personal crisis and somehow transform myself. There were three key lessons learned from such a journey: the emergence of self-awareness, the significance of empathy and humanity within research communities, and the therapeutic and transformative potential of writing.


autoethnography, COVID-19 pandemic, reflexivity, transformation, qualitative research, writing as a method of inquiry, care for self

Author Bio(s)

Kien Nguyen-Trung, Ph.D. (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1782-7405) is a Research Fellow at Water Sensitive Cities Australia and BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University. He is the founder of Vietnam Social Research Methodology, a nonprofit organisation established to promote the application of social and educational research methodologies among Vietnamese scholars and beyond. His research interests include qualitative research, care of self, disaster risks and climate change adaptation, community development, and human-technology interaction. His recent publications focus on autoethnography and collaborative reflection, risk-taking behaviours, the social construction of disaster vulnerability, and the integration of generative AI such as ChatGPT into qualitative research. Please direct correspondence Kien.nguyen@monash.edu


I would like to thank my family, friends, colleagues, readers, editors and reviewers at The Qualitative Report for their valuable feedback and important support, and for sharing back their personal stories and empathy upon reading or hearing about my first autoethnography

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