For the month of June I have the above title. With funding from the Werklund School of Education, Office of Research and the University of Calgary’s Office of Internationalization, I have embarked upon this short research stay with a few flexible goals in mind:
- get to know the people and place of the university, the faculty and the structure of higher education, in particular, pre-service teacher education in Hamburg and in Germany
- hold some preliminary meetings and document analysis to see if a larger comparative project examining how Canada and Germany prepare teachers for refugee education
- deliver two talks
- one on linguistic diversity in education in Canada
- one on the teaching across borders program and how its design is informed by research
- take a trip to Limerick, Ireland to attend and present at the International Symposium on Bilingualism and to network with scholars in applied and educational linguistics
Ok, this is starting to look like more than a few goals. There are also the future goals, such as considering whether to suggest Limerick as a future TAB placement or making connections for a research agreement with Uni Hamburg.
What can I share from my first full week in Hamburg:
- June is indeed a lovely time to come, the university is well-suited a short walk from parks and the Alster. I have been warmly welcomed, provided with an office and access to printers, etc. A colleague has explained aspects of the train system I can’t figure out from the internet and the Guesthouse is an amazing gathering place for visiting scholars and their families.
- a meeting with school officials was arranged and they spent an hour with me. I learned so much about the deliberate efforts to prepare teachers and set up a strong response to the wave of refugees that have come, recognizing the unique need to deal at times with illiteracy, trauma and interrupted schooling.
- the talks are still to come, but I attended one and was delighted by the interest students showed in the topic
- the trip to Limerick is on Sunday and the talk for Monday is prepared. Already I have a mental list of talks to attend and people to connect with.
The value of a trip like this is that people learn so much more in person than from afar and the connections they can make are valuable for any number of future endeavours. This is not my first time in Germany, but this is my first trip as a visiting scholar and my first residence abroad since I was 18. Despite the challenges of getting ready to go and making arrangements both professional and personal for while I am gone, I am optimistic that this trip will be worth the effort.