In October, I attended the Education and Migration Conference in Durham. This three-day conference was packed with interesting presentations. Here’s a short summary of my favorite talks:
Keynote by Alison Phipps: Alison really impressed me. Her talk was very insightful. My favorite sentence was “This is not a refugee crisis, but a crisis of politics”. Her talk explored the question of what role the arts and humanities play in the current “refugee crisis”. Alison emphasized the role of aesthetics and imagery (e.g. photo of dead boy washed up at sea). She concluded that the arts and humanities have the potential to care but also the potential to fear. She made me think when she asked the question of how we can educate the public and politicians about refugees and refugee camps. Phipps also mentioned Hannah Arendt’s essay ‘we refugees’.
The British Council gave an exciting keynote. They mentioned their English in action project in Bangladesh and gave some facts about Syrian refugees I was unfamiliar with.
– there are more Syrian refugees in Istanbul than in the rest of Europe together.
– the average stay of refugee stay outside country is 19 years
– Syrian population has missed out on their own education for about 6 years
Further, they introduced their Language for Resilience project.
Presentation by Amina al Daif
Amina pointed out that fifty percent of the one million people who crossed the Mediterranean Sea were Syrian. The UK has received 20000 vulnerable people. Yet, so far only 2800 have arrived to the UK
This has been a very productive weekend, The papers presented gave invaluable insights into diverse research, which is currently being conducted in a plethora of contexts. Further, this conference was an excellent networking opportunity. It was clear for me to see, how much concern current SLA and ESOL researchers and practitioners have for the refugee/migrant community in the UK, Europe, and abroad.
Thinking back, the presentations have made it apparent, just how necessary and crucial it is, to focus Social Science research on said topic. It was inspiring to see the international academic community come together to discuss current pressing issues revolving around education and migration. Talks [e.g. By Bigelow or Al Daif] demonstrated the close link between Language and Identity.