Dopunske škole

‘Nemoj govoriti na našem jeziku kad dođeš po mene u školu’: Gubitak i njegovanje jezika u migrantskim porodicama

18.. decembra se slavi UN-ov Međunarodni dan migranata. Na ovaj dan 1990. Ujedinjeni su narodi potpisali Internacionalnu konvenciju migranata u svrhu zaštite prava migranata i njihovih porodica. Trebalo je 13 godina za konvenciju da dostigne prag potreban za sprovođenje konvencije – pristanak 20 zemalja. Ova konvencija trenutno štiti prava oko 250 miliona ljudi u svijetu koji se identificiraju kao migranti. Mnogi nisu čuli za ovu konvenciju i mnogi ne znaju da UNESCO-ova prava djeteta uključuju i pravo na obrazovanje na maternjem jeziku.

Migracija i gubitak jezika uvijek su bili prisutni u mom porodičnom narativu. Njemački i češki jezik, nepovratno, i sa žaljenjem, nestali su iz naše familije nakon Drugog svjetskog rata velikom brzinom.

Nekoliko fotografija i dragih anegdota o mojoj njemačkoj prabaki nastanjenoj u Hrvatskoj, Marii (rođenoj Limberger) Vanek (Fotografija 1), koja je savladavala jezičke barijere za vrijeme svoga braka s mojim češkim pradjedom, sve je što me sada povezuje s tom kompleksnom prošlošću. Na fotografiji 2 , slikanoj 1903. njen je rukopis na njemačkom: Za uspomenu, poklonjeno mom pradjedi Mati Vaneku za njihove zaruke. Ispod njenog rukopisa nalazi se, još uvijek vidljiv, blijedi dvojezični tekst: ‘Primamo mušterije, u svako doba dana, vreme bilo vedro ili oblačno ne pravi razlike’.

Ova fotografija svjedoči da je nekad u toj oblasti bila udomaćena dvojezična njemačka manjina, koja je funkcionisala dvojezično profesionalno i privatno i koja je izgubila svoj jezik zbog nepoželjne povezanosti sa strašnim periodom nacističke okupacije.

Istraživanje koje je nedavno provedeno u Osijeku kao dio projekta Europske Unije i doktorske teze moje studentice Dr. sc. Klare Bilić Meštrić pruža uvid u sadašnje napore potomaka te njemačke zajednice, koji su ostali živjeti u ovoj regiji, da ožive njemački u porodici i zajednici (referenca dolje).

Moje iskustvo migracije bazirano je na ličnom i profesionalnom životu u Londonu. Prvo zaposlenje koje sam imala u Londonu je bilo za Britanski savjet za izbjeglice koje me je postavilo, bez pripreme i upozorenja, direktno u najtamniji aspekt migracije. Radila sam sa žrtvama etničkog čišćenja, mučenja i izgladnjivanja, koje su iz notornih koncentracionih logora u Bosni i Hercegovini (BiH) spasili UN i Crveni krst.

Naš bi tim dvojezičnih zaposlenika čekao na čarter letove. ‘Dobrodošli u London!’ – mi bismo rekli i često dobili odgovor: ‘London?! Pa nama su rekli da idemo u Njemačku! Tamo nam je porodica.’

Mnogi od ovih ljudi prošli su kroz mjesece i godine legalnih borbi da bi ostvarili premještaj i ujedinjenje sa svojim porodicama, često odbijajući da uče engleski, jer su to vidjeli kao jedini način da protestvuju i odupru se protuvoljnoj migraciji.

U tom periodu prevodili smo satima, bez predaha, za Amnesty International i Internacionalni sud za ratne zločine u Hagu. Moja najjača memorija iz tog perioda je kako bi moja tjelesna temperature pala tako nisko, da bi se moje tijelo vidno treslo na kraju svakog intervjua bez obzira na temperaturu u sobi – moja refleksna reakcija na iznesene detalje mučenja. Jedno pitanje je uvijek bilo prisutno u mojoj svijesti: Kako je Evropa dozvolila da se ovo desi, opet?

Po završetku tog procesa, prešli smo na pomaganje ovim porodicama da se uklope u život u Londonu i Essexu. Oni koji su odlučili da prihvate novo pronađenu slobodu i novi život trudili su se da nauče engleski i da pošalju djecu u lokalne škole. Samo nekoliko mjeseci po njihovom dolasku podijelili su sa mnom da mnoga djeca kažu njima, svojim roditeljima: ‘Kad dođeš po mene u školu, nemoj govoriti naš.’ Ova su iskustva za mene bila ‘kritični incidenti’ koji su me vodili da nešto učinim.

Ljudi koji su izgubili svoje domove sada su živjeli u strahu da će izgubiti svoj jezik, identitet, otuđiti se od sebe i svojih porodica. Ova iskustva su me nagnala da želim da učinim nešto što će eksponirati faktore u obrazovanju i široj javnosti koji utiču na djecu imigranata da sami sebe orobe, u ovom slučaju, od jedine ‘imovine’ koju su mogli sa sobom donijeti: svog jezika i prethodnog znanja koje imaju na tom jeziku.

Moj prvi pokušaj je rezultirao u dvojezičnoj dramskoj grupi, gdje su mladi ljudi iz BiH pretvorili svoja iskustava u kreativnu energiju i napisali dvojezičnu dramu: Naturalizovan, koju su izveli profesionalni glumci u Royal Court Theatre i Half Moon Theatre u Londonu (referenca dolje).

Mene su onda molili iz BiH zajednice u South Ockendonu, predgrađu Londona, da im pomognem zasnovati školu maternjeg jezika. Ova inicijativa se poklopila sa dolaskom u London moje mame, Vere (rođene Šalovac) Mehmedbegović, koja je i sama morala pod prisilom napustiti BiH zbog etničkog čišćenja. Kao nastavnica u penziji i sa 41 godinu punog radnog staža u prosvjeti, prihvatila je sa velikim entuzijazmom da vodi ovu školu. Mene je jako radovalo da vidim kako je posvećivala svoje vrijeme planiranju nastave, organizovanju knjiga, mapa, pisanju dnevnika škole, koji je dokumentovao razvoj prve takve škole BiH dijaspore u Britaniji. Ova je škola postala njen život i smisao u Londonu. Fotografija 3.

Moja motivacija da nešto učinim me je onda vodila u eksponiranje procesa koji se u literaturi naziva ‘simboličko nasilje’ kroz moj akademski rad i istraživanja. Moj dugoročni cilj je da doprinesem razvoju obrazovnog sistema u kojem niti jedno dijete neće osjećati potrebu da sakrije svoj jezik i niti jedan roditelj neće osjećati strah otuđenja u bližoj i daljoj porodici izazvan gubitkom vlastitog jezika.

Svjesna sam da je ovo tako idealistično – da moram citirati čuvenog migranta, koji je nažalost tragično završio svoj život u drugoj zemlji, Johna Lennona, koji kaže:

‘You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one …Možeš reći da sam sanjar, ali nisam jedini …’

Dakako – ja se ne osjećam sama u ovom nastojanju. Vrlo me ohrabruje rad mnogih odličnih kolega i škola u Londonu, i u mnogim drugim gradovima i zemljama, koji isto imaju ovakva nastojanja. Jedna od inspirativnih inicijativa je Translation Nation (link dolje).

Ako želite čitati o mojim istraživanjima i viziji, pogledajte dolje linkove. I sretan Dan migranata: ‘Imagine all the people sharing all the world … Zamisli da svi ljudi dijele cijeli svijet …’

PS: Posvećujem ovaj blog svom dragom bratu Zoranu Mehmedbegoviću, koji nije više s nama. Fotografija 4: Zoran i ja u sedamdesetim. On je bio među onima koji nisu bili dovoljno sretni da postanu migranti, da budu na jednom od onih konvoja koji su spasili hiljade Banjalučana i odveli ih u njihove nove bezbjedne živote u Švedskoj.

Zoran je dugo godina radio kao medicinski radnik, farmaceut u Banja Luci, mnogi su ga znali i cijenili zbog njegove izuzetne humanosti. Ostao je u Banja Luci kako bi se brinuo za starije članove u porodici koju je stekao kroz brak. Nažalost, neodlazak na vrijeme iz Banja Luke odveo ga je u koncentracioni logor, koji je preživio.

Ono što su on i mnogi naši sugrađani doživjeli u tom periodu nikada se ne može opravdati ili oprostiti. Zoran je nažalost umro prerano, poslije rata. 18. decembar je i rođendan Zoranovog unuka, čiji je dolazak očekivao sa velikim uzbuđenjem. Nažalost, Zoranov život je bio 6 mjeseci prekratak da doživi tu radost. Mi, njegova porodica, uvijek ćemo osjećati tugu zbog njegovog mučenja i zbog života koji mu je ukraden, i čuvati ga u našim mislima i dragim uspomenama. I sretan rođendan našem Mirzi Kartalu – tvoj djeda bi bio jako ponosan na sva tvoja dostignuća!

 

Pripremila: Dina Mehmedbegović

‘Don’t speak to me in our language, when you pick me up from school’: Language loss and maintenance in migrant families

Today, 18th December is the UN Day of Migrants. On this day in 1990 UN signed the International Migrant Convention protecting the rights of migrants and their families. It took another 13 years for the Convention to reach the threshold needed for its implementation – acceptance by 20 countries. Its main aim is to protect human rights of currently around 250 million people identified as migrants world-wide. Not many are aware of this date and not many are aware that UNESCO rights of children include a right to education in mother tongue/home language.

Migration, resettlement and language loss have always been present in my family narrative. German and Czech were regretfully lost in our family post-second world war at a very fast rate. A few photographs and fond anecdotes about the way my German great grandmother, Maria (nee Limberger) Vanek, negotiating language barriers while married to my Czech great grandfather and living in Croatia (Photo 1), is all that now connects me to that complex past. On her photograph from 1903 one can see a bilingual text, in German and Croatian: “I welcome customers regardless of the weather, on clear or cloudy days …” by the photographer Viktor Furst (Photo 2): a testimony to a once bilingual and well established German speaking minority in that area, who operated bilingually in their jobs and privately and who lost their language because of its unwanted link to the horrific period of the Nazi occupation. Research done recently in the town of Osijek as a partner city in a European project and in a PhD thesis by Dr Klara Bilic Mestric provides insights into the efforts of the contemporary community of German descendants still settled in this region to revive the use of German in family and community settings.

My own experience of migration is based on both my personal and professional life in London. My first employment for the British Refugee Council placed me directly and without any notice or preparation at the darkest hour of migration. Working with victims of ethnic cleansing from the Bosnian War, rescued by the UN and Red Cross from the most notorious post-second world war concentration camps, tortured and starved. Our team of bilingual caseworkers would be waiting for a charter flight to arrive – Welcome to London, we would say, and often got a reply: London?! We were told we were going to Germany! I have family there. Some of these people went through months, years of legal battles to be transferred and reunited with their families, often refusing to learn English as what they saw being the only way of protesting against and resisting their forced migration.

During that time we were interpreting for hours without a break horrific details of their ordeal for Amnesty International and the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. My most vivid memory is still how my body temperature would plummet and my body would be gripped by strong shivers at the end of each session regardless of the actual room temperature – a reflex reaction to unpalatable horrors described by these people. I often thought: how did Europe allow this to happen, again?

Once that process was finished, we were deployed to support these families to resettle in communities in London and Essex. Those who decided to get on with their newly found freedom and new life looked to learn English and to send their children to local schools. Only a few months after their arrival they shared with me that many children say to their parents: ‘When you pick me up from school, don’t speak to me in our language.’ These shared episodes were for me ‘critical incidents’. People who had lost their homes were now fearing loss of language, identity, self and family ties. These episodes made me feel I wanted to do something to expose factors in education and wider community that make immigrant children ultimately rob themselves of the only assets they were able to bring with them: their language and their knowledge embedded in that language.

My first attempt resulted in a bilingual creative writing group – where some of these young people harnessed their extraordinary experiences and produced a bilingual play: Naturalised, performed at Royal Court Theatre, London. I was then approached by the community to help them set up a mother tongue school in South Ockendon, a suburb of London. This initiative coincided with the arrival of my mother, Vera (nee Salovac) Mehmedbegovic, to London, who was a retired teacher with 41 years of full-time teaching experience. She accepted with great enthusiasm leading the school for many years. It was heart-warming to watch her dedicate her time to planning the work, getting the books, maps, resources, writing a diary documenting the development of the first such school for this community. This school became her life and purpose in her own exile (Photo 3).

My drive to make a difference led me then into exposing what in literature is termed factors of ‘symbolic violence’ through my research, with one overarching aim: to contribute to the development of education policy and practice in which no child would feel the need to hide their home language and no parent would fear alienation in closer and wider family caused by loss of their home/heritage language.

I am aware that this is sooooo idealistic – it calls me to quote a famous migrant who unfortunately met his early tragic death in his host country, John Lennon, by saying: ‘You can say: I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one …’. Indeed – I do not feel alone in this quest. I feel very encouraged by the work of many excellent colleagues in research and schools based in London, many other cities and countries, who share this aim and have made inspiring contributions to this field and children’s experiences. One such initiative is Translation Nation (link below). To read about my research and vision please follow the links below. And Happy Migrants day – ‘Imagine all the people sharing all the world …’

PS: I dedicate this blog to my late brother Zoran Mehmedbegovic. He was among those not fortunate to become a migrant, to be on one of those convoys that rescued thousands of Banja Luka citizens and took them to their new safe lives in Sweden. For many years he was a medical worker, a pharmacist, known and appreciated by many in our home city for his outstanding kindness. He stayed behind to look after the elderly in the family gained through his marriage. His altruism eventually led to his ordeal in a concentration camp, which he survived. What he, and many we know of, endured during that period can never be justified or forgiven. He sadly died of a premature death after the war. 18th Dec is also the birthday of Zoran’s grandson, whose arrival he was expecting with great excitement. Tragically, Zoran’s life was 6 months short of living that joy. We, his family, will always feel the sorrow for his tortures and for the life he was robbed of, and hold him dearly in our thoughts and memories. And happy birthday to our Mirza Kartal – your grandad would be so proud of all your achievements!

 

By Dina Mehmedbegovic, UCL

Links to further reading:

Kolenic, Lj. & Bilic Mestric, K (2015) Multilingualism in Osijek: LUCIDE City Report: http://www.urbanlanguages.eu/images/stories/docs/city-reports/Osijek.pdf

Translation Nation: www.stephen-spender.org/translation_nation.html

Bak, TH and Mehmedbegovic D (2017) Healthy Linguistic Diet: the value of linguistic diversity and language learning across the lifespanhttp://www.meits.org/policy-papers

Mehmedbegovic, D and Bak, TH (2017) Towards an interdisciplinary lifetime approach to multilingualism: From implicit assumptions to current evidencehttp://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/abs/10.3828/ejlp.2017.10

Mehmedbegovic, D. (2017) What every policy maker needs to know about cognitive benefits of bilingualism.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320533130_What_Every_Policymaker_Needs_to_Know_About_the_Cognitive_Benefits_of_Bilingualism

Mehmedbegovic, D. (2017) Engaging with Linguistic Diversity in Global Cities: Arguing for ‘language hierarchy free’ policy and practice in education:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321152696_Engaging_with_Linguistic_Diversity_in_Global_Cities_Arguing_for_’Language_Hierarchy_Free’_Policy_and_Practice_in_Education

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