I am attending Nordic Geographers’ Meeting #NGM2017

On Sunday, I’ll be in Stockholm for the 7th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting. I am excited to be presenting my work to a completely new audience – geographers, and a wider audience of social scientists – as I usually meet with Africa scholars or Migration scholars. The theme is “geographies of inequalities” which is almost a perfect topic to capture student migration out of the global South.

At the meeting, I hope to:

  • get some new ideas on how to take my work to the next level (Where do I publish?  What are others doing on students and migration?) and
  • pick up some clues on how I continue to do relevant interdisciplinary research. (What methods should I use?  Who can I collaborate with? Who else is interested in my work?)

I’ll be presenting two papers out of my dissertation research for the following two panels:

Session A3: Youth and Inequality: Perceptions, experiences, and aspirations. (PDF details)

Conveners: Prof. Katherine Gough of Loughborough University and Dr. Thilde Langevang of Copenhagen Business School.

Session description
Rising unemployment and sluggish economic growth are widely predicted to further widen income and wealth inequality worldwide. Young people, in particular, are being disproportionately affected with the OECD claiming that youth have replaced the elderly as the group experiencing the greatest risk of income poverty. This has widespread implications for the opportunities and constraints young people face as well as impacting on their aspirations for the future.This session will bring together papers which explore how young people’s lives and aspirations are being influenced by the inequality they experience and imagine both in situ and in faraway places. Papers are welcome from societies across the globe where young people are being affected by real or perceived high levels of inequality. Topics which may be explored in the session include, but are not restricted to, the implications of rising inequality at a range of scales for young people’ perceptions, experiences and aspirations of: Mobility and immobility /Education and skills training/ Work experiences and job prospects/Housing and home

Here my paper “Migration aspirations among university students in Ghana” will discuss my choices to focus on university students and not youth in general as well as aspirations and intentions and not migration per se . I also will share some results from the survey I did with university students in Ghana, in particular looking at social backgrounds of students and their view of migration. (20/6/17 1.15-3.00 pm. Room: William Olsson, House Y)

Session J7: The Politics of Movement. (PDF details)

Conveners: Dr. Nancy Cook & Prof. David Butz, Brock University.

Session description
The politics of movement  entanglements of power, social inequality and mobilities – is an abiding preoccupation in social geography and critical mobilities studies. Both scholarly fields identify mobility as a fundamental structuring dimension of social life. They also demonstrate that the capacity for movement under conditions of one’s choosing is a valuable resource that is unequally distributed in social contexts structured by hierarchies of power. In other words, movement is socially differentiated; it reflects and reinforces structures of power to configure inequitable social hierarchies. Critical geographers and mobility scholars are tracing the ways in which relations of gender, race, class, sexuality and citizenship shape discourses and practices of mobility that produce beneficial movement for some people and too little or too much movement for others.

For this session, I will discuss some thoughts around what a global South student really is in relation to mobility in my paper “Conceptualizing academic mobility and mobility exclusions from a global South student perspective”. Based on the data I collected for my dissertation research I will suggest some trends in the politics of movement from a student point of view. (19/6/17 at 5.15-6.45 pm in Room: U26, House U)

I am also looking forward to keynotes, especially with Dr. Brenda S.A. Yeoh who has a distinct global South perspective in her work and meeting new friends – and at least one old! I want to thank my good friend Michael Boampong who sent me the initial info on this conference, and who is also attending the conference as well as and my department at Ashesi University which made this trip possible.

Hope to meet you at #NGM2017!

My Children Speak Three Languages: Here Are My Thoughts About It

My brother reads to my children. In Swedish.

In our family, we speak three languages: English is the common language that all of us speak, then I speak Swedish with the kids (which my children’s father can understand some, but cannot speak it), and the children’s father speaks Fanti, an Akan language ( which I only have a basic level of understanding and proficiency) with them. People around us speak either English or Fanti or other dialects of Akan, in school, my daughter is taught in English. We Skype with my Swedish family in Swedish maybe once a week.

Swedish is hence the language my children hear the least of.

My thoughts around teaching them my language are:

  1. It is extremely important to me they speak my mother-tongue. It is the lauguage in which I can express myself best and it is the carrier of my culture. My children speaking Swedish is non-negotiable and I am envisioning them speaking Swedish fluently as adults, on a level high enough it would not immediately be possible to tell they did not always live in Sweden.
  2. If I, their mother, speak Swedish, they will too. I therefore try and speak as much in Swedish with them as I can. Honestly, I constantly disappoint myself and end up speaking English much more than I intend to, but I try to be forgiving, switch to Swedish when I realize I am rattling on in English and say to myself that “tomorrow is a new day…”
  3. To increase my children’s Swedish vocabulary, we read books every day. I try to read to them every night I am home for about 45 minutes (5 nights a week). We have many children’s’ books in Swedish, but I also do direct translations from books in English (and the one in French!). We also converse around pictures in the books.
  4. Mixing languages is ok. The Multilingual Children’s Association agrees and calls it “harmless and temporary”. If my children speak mixing English and Swedish, and they do that quite a bit, I might translate to Swedish in my response to them. For instance,  they might say: “…and kaninen [the rabbit] fall down”,  I can respond “Ja, den ramlade…” [Yes, it fell]. But I don’t want to coerce them into speaking Swedish as I don’t want there to be any ill-feeling towards the language. At times that means I will be speaking Swedish and they will respond in English. Good enough.
  5. We spend at least one month in a Swedish-speaking environment every year. I think it is sometimes good to be emersed in the language and “forced” to speak (but I am not contradicting myself, the force that comes naturally from speaking to someone who prefers Swedish is very different to be made to speak to someone who speaks both languages).
  6. I take help from technology. When my children play iPad games or watch movies, I make sure some of them are in Swedish. It is also a great way of adding the cultural aspect of life in Sweden such as current favorites Barnen i Bullerbyn and Astrid får en lillebror.
  7. I think of next steps. However, I realize my children lack some specific vocabulary, for instance, words for play in Swedish (My child: “Hello, let’s play HIDE AND SEEK”, Swedish child: *blank face*), so I would love to organize playdates for them with Swedish speaking children. I know a few here in Ghana and am aware of a Swedish family moving to our town soon. Likely my Swedish would improve with some more practice as well!

If you have experiences with a multilingual life, I would love to hear your story!

Thanks to Charlie’s comment and Nadja’s facebook post which inspired this post!

This post is part of a series of posts about parenting

Travel Destinations: Greater Accra and Gotland

I have two homes. One in Ghana and one in Sweden. Having two homes is normal to me, it is my life.

In Ghana my life centers around the Greater Accra area: the capital Accra, my hometown Tema and my workplace roughly an hour north east of Accra. In Sweden, I hail from the island of Gotland, more particularly the village Brissund and then the cosmopolitan city of Malmo in the very south thanks to my siblings who moved there.

This week, I stumbled across tourist information of my two homes provinces and WOW! they look great! I can’t believe how lucky I am to share my time between these two places…

1. Ghana: Greater Accra (as described by Virgin Atlantic)

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.58.15 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Sweden: Gotland (as described by the campaign GotlandJordenRunt)Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.55.13 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when are you coming to visit?

Low-Key Celebration of National Day in Sweden

Today is sixth of June, Sweden’s national day. National day? you say and think of parades, flags and fireworks flying about and families getting together to mark the occasion with foods and festivities.

However, it might be the most low-key celebration of any nation. Ever. Only a few years ago, the sixth became a holiday in Sweden and we Swedes are frankly still not sure what to do with it. We do not have a history of parading, as we are not a military nation and have been lucky (or aloof) enough to avoid wars for more than 200 years. Waiving a Swedish flag in Sweden is not encouraged. We feel it is somehow boastful and much too nationalistic. Fireworks would not work against the light summer skies – remember the midnight sun?

Some Swedes say that our midsummer celebrations at the end of this month is when our Swedishness really shines though: families meet, traditional food and drink are prepared and strange nationalistic behavior like building a flower pole, dancing and singing is proclaimed – so maybe that would be a better national day?

See my earlier five (!) posts about midsummer celebrations here. Typically, I have never written about the national day before.

Pic from last year’s midsummer celebrations with family in friends in Sweden.

Back in Ghana or When I Met Kofi Annan

So my Swedish summer is over and I am back in Ghana with all that it entails. So far:

1. A Ghanaian wedding in which a vuvuzela played an important role.

“Do you take this… VUUUU! VUUUU!”

2. Getting the updates on our backyard farm from my husband.

“…And here we have tomatoes, watermelon, two kinds of plantain, cassava, paw-paw and there ginger. Don’t step on the pepper!”

3. A visit to the drivers licensing office, DVLA. I was there for an hour and did of course not get my license. I did however read an article about the corruption at the DVLA while I waited.

4. Returning to work where E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y greeted me whith a heartily:

“Akwaaba! How was your trip?”

5. A function at the University of Ghana where I, to my surprise, got the chance to pitch my research idea to Former Secretary General of UN  Kofi Annan.

“I am interested in why Ghanaian students leave this…” Kofi Annan interrupts me excitedly:

“…WONDERFUL COUNTRY?”.

“Yes, exactly, this wonderful country”. When he found out I was married here in Ghana to a Ghanaian he and his Swedish wife Nane Annan smiled and said a warm “congratulations!”

Yes, I am back in Ghana! This wonderful country!

Visiting A Swedish Blogger

Yesterday, I went to see fellow blogger Nina, just 5 minutes drive away from my parents’ house.

I read her blog every week as she writes on a couple of topics I am interested in like Gotland (the beautiful island I am from), feminism, photography, home decor and parenting (well, I can learn even though I am not there yet, can’t I?). Her blog is very professional AND personal, which is a difficult combo.

As I read her blog often, I felt I already knew her!

It was a strange and wonderful feeling as I walked through her beautiful home, played pek-a-boo with her son and had a lovely discussion about everything from relationships to racism, cupcakes to career, loving to living…

It is wonderful what connections blogging can bring! Hope to see you next summer too, Nina!

See Nina’s post (in Swedish) on our meet-up here. (or pic above).

Almedalen Week in Political Suit

Almedalen Valet PotatoPotato Hampus HallbergEven though the sky is blue and the sun scorching hot, tonight, I am leaving my paradise by the sea to go to town. Why?

Today the traditional one-week event for politicians, journalists, lobbyists and other politically interested start in Visby. It is called “Almedalen Week” as the epicenter of the many meetings is the Almedalen park, where party leaders from the seven major parties give a speech each day of the week. Starting with the current prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, tonight.

I thought of working this week, writing some articles for alternative newspaper ETC or the online Swedish news site in English, the Local, but after dropping them an email I never really pursued it further. And maybe for the best.

Now I can attend the seminars, debates and meet-ups I want. As well as my brother Hampus Hallberg’s play, Valet, (see photo) which runs four times: Wednesday and Thursday 1 and 5 pm in Metodistkyrkan on Adelsgatan.

And in between take of the political suit and put on the bathing suit…

Program for the week here.