After coming back from my year abroad I had a lot of time and a summer school seemed very appealing. I decided to apply for the ‘Europe: Migration and diversity summer school at the university of Antwerp. As all of the sessions were online, I enjoyed every day from the comfort of my room. Here are some of the best aspects from the summer school:
- Did not have to leave my house
Although it would have been better to actually have been in Belgium to take part in the summer school it was nice not to have to get dressed up and have to go to physical lectures. Lectures were recorded so it did not matter if you missed anything. The lectures were intense so it was nice to go back and catch up on parts that you did not understand.
The summer school was attended by 30 people from different countries such as Belgium, India, China, Canada and the Netherlands. It was fun to hear opinions from people from all backgrounds and to get to know some new people. The lecturers were also very enthusiastic, each of them found it hard to limit their lectures to an hour and a half.
- Depth of the lectures and the variety of topics
I was very surprised with the range of lectures that we were offered. I had not realised how multi-faceted the topic of migration and diversity was. Some of the topics covered were: a historical perspective on migration, Europe on a demographic level, diversity and migration through other eyes, an introduction to European institutions, EU policies on migration, the impact of diversification on European cities, different perspectives on diversities in cities and diversity in education.
- Learning something knew
The most interesting part of the last two days was the lecture on diversity in education and whether migrants and those of ethnic minorities suffer in the education system. The finding portrayed that in educational systems across Europe, sometimes migrants were disadvantaged. It illustrated how systems have to change to take into consideration the needs of migrants so that equality in education can be reached. An example of this is the Belgium system where they do not monitor the ethnicity of students therefore are unable to see whether there is diversity in schools.
- Reflecting on my own ideas
The lectures on the second day focused on how we view other cultures and the prejudices that we hold about others. It highlighted the fact that we continuously make assumptions about other cultures and do not see the uniqueness in others as we would for people living in the same country. Additionally, it led to a discussion on whether we have the right to tell other nations what practices they should continue or not just because they are less wealthy. These discussions highlighted that we have to get rid of these prejudices and see things from a different point of view.
Although this was an unconventional summer school, I am glad to have been part of this. After spending a year abroad teaching it helped me to get back into the academic side of my studies by having to engage with academic topics. I also learnt a great deal about migration and diversity which I had not come across before and realised how countries will have to adapt to changing migration and diversity in their countries.