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  • Writer's pictureElzbieta M Gozdziak

Reminiscing about the summer ... looking forward to fall

The dog days of summer are gone .... BTW Did you know that in Polish the dog days of summer are called "sezon ogórkowy" or "cucumber season"? The Dictionary of Polish Language defines it as the summer period when nothing happens, a period of summer stagnation in cultural, social, and political life. I guess the authors of the dictionary are not anthropologists, for whom summer is often the busiest time of the year with field research, writing, and conference attendance.

Fieled research

I continued my field research while schools were still in session. In June i spent a week in Wrocław, which along with Poznań, is our main field research site. In February I visited several public and private schools, but this time around I focused on the work local NGOs do to facilitate migrant children's integration in schools and the wider community, making sure that the foreign-born children develope a sense of belonging. Our doctroral student, Larysa, and I also conducted a focus group with a group of intercultural assistants working in public schools in Wrocław. We will blog about our experiences working with intercultural assistants in due course on our project's blog. make sure you subscribe to the blog to keep up with our research.

In Poland, the school year ends in late June. In addition to interviews with principals, teachers, parents, and students, I also observed festivities and ceremonies crowning the school year. It was nice to see Polish and foreign-born students performing songs, reciting poems, and dancing the traditional dance of polonez.

Summer break

Schools closed on June 23 and both teachers and students went on a well-deserved vacation. However, both I and my team set out to work transcribing our interviews and analyzing them. The doctoral students on my team also participated in summer schools. You can read about their adventures here.


In June, I attended the biannual conference on migration from and to Poland organized by Anne White at the University College of London School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies. I presented a paper on Troubled Belonging: The Religious Exclusion of Migrant Children in Polish Schools. This paper will most likely become a chapter in a co-authored book Professors Goździak and Main are writing based on the data collected in the course of the Good beginings, promising futures project.

Later in the same month, Larysa and I attended the final conference of the MaMLiSE Project titled: Majority and Minority Languages in School Environment: Helping teachers, pupils and parents. Larysa presented our joint paper entitled Between a rock and a hard place: Heritage language preservation and acquisition of majority language among migrant children in Poznań and Wrocław. Analyzing the data we collected, we realized that the term "heritage language" is somewhat of a misnomer as many of the children in our sample come from mixed parentage and speak more than one language at home.

In July Izabella Main and I attended the annual IMISCOE conference in Warsaw where I organized and chaired a panel on migrant children's education More than a desk in a classroom: Migrant children and educational inequalities and Izabella presented a paper on immigrant parents and formal education of their children in Poland. The panel included presentations by colleagues from Norway, Spain, and Nigeria. It was nice to reconnect with my co-panelists as well as other migration scholars, but some of us commented on how big the IMISCOE conference is gettin, which is not always a good thing.

This coming week I am heading to Frankfurt on Oder to attend a conference on Contesting 21st Century B/Orders. I will be presenting a paper, co-authored with Anzhela Popyk, Navigating and negotiating borders in primary and secondary education. Ukrainian children in Polish schools. I am looking forward to comments on our paper as we plan to submit it for publication soon.

All work and no play makes life dull

I am really bad at balancing work and life, but I try... Since I now spend so much time in Poland, I went back to Washington DC to see my pack, human and canine. The family and the dogs went on a one-week vacation to the beach in Delaware. Good time was had by all, both the dogs and the humans enjoyed walks and sunsets on the beach.

I continued my obsession with Korean dramas and watched quite a few. If you want to know what I watch, you can follow me on Tumblr. I also found some time for reading, mainly Korean and Japanese novels (in English and Polish translation).

Looking forward to fall

I am looking forward to fall. Hopefully we will get the famed Polish golden autum (złota polska jesień) ... Stay tuned.

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