When you are the first generation in your family to be able to attend school (by Dr. Mela Sarkar in collaboration with Chhanda Bashuri, Titli Das Bairagya, Aduri, Bharati & Puspa Mirdha, Shraboni Mondal, and Manjari Roy Chowdhury)

Introductions at the ISW Chella site. Left to right: Bharati, Puspa, Aduri, Sitola, Shraboni & Chhanda

A village in rural West Bengal, India, where as early as February the temperature goes up to 35 degrees Celsius or so every day, with no prospect of rain until April or May, is about as far from a Montreal winter as one can imagine. It’s where I have just spent four weeks working with several gifted and enthusiastic young women who teach at supplemental schools run by a local NGO, the Institute of Social Work (ISW). Like many NGOs across India and in the developing world, ISW works in the local language (here, Bengali) and draws mostly on local resources. My cousin Nupur Sarkar has been part of ISW since its inception in 1978; I am much indebted to her for having made it possible for me to spend time at ISW’s Birbhum-district schools. After a previous visit in 2019, I wrote about the experience here on the BILD blog, and have dreamed ever since then of coming back and staying awhile.

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Inferior North, superior South? North Korean defectors in Moranbong Club (by Shiin Moon)

Our guest blogger this week, Shiin Moon, tells us: “I have been living my whole life as a majority South Korean in Seoul and taught elementary students for 5 and a half years. To me, language learning has always been tied to power and social mobility of my students and of myself, and now I am so happy to delve deeper into this association in Montréal. I am a second-year master’s student in the Second Language Education program at McGill University, and interested in language socialization, language ideologies, and language learning experience of migrants in Québec.”

This blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

“I taught her to use the stronger accent. I told her, I know you are a North Korean, but with the worst North Korean accent. That’s not the way we do it in the South.”

from Moranbong Club

This excerpt was voiced by a South Korean comedian (FYI, not the one in the picture) while she was describing her experience of teaching her fellow North Korean performer how to ‘speak North’ – in a TV talk show named Moranbong Club (Lim & Jung, 2015-present). Her remark implies how North Koreans have been deployed, consumed, and delegitimized in South Korean society, especially through their speech.

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Gifts: On Queerness, CXCs, English B and Caribbean Society (by Linzey Corridon)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

Our guest blogger this week, Linzey Corridon, is a Vincentian guy, an emerging writer, teacher and activist who drifted northwards to Canada. His critical and creative work can be found in publications such as The Puritan, Montreal Writes, Insight Journal, and Emotional Magazine. A PhD student in the department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, his current research navigates literature, queer theory, cultural and policy studies, and the digital humanities to think critically about the new and generative ways in which queer West Indian and diasporic writing may be used to reform CARICOM notions of citizenship and policy-making. 

There are no real words
only some culpable emotions
and funny bodies made into magic.
These pilgrims have no homeland
their ancestors were vagabonds
until now.

I have decided to time travel, to dredge up the past in the most discomforting of ways. There is a pit in my stomach from sitting down to write this piece. It is an emptiness that I forgot existed since moving to North America. My return to a place that is simultaneously distant and ever-present.

First day of high school at the St. Vincent Boys Grammar School. Linzey Corridon
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Education as a place of belonging (by Bojana Krsmanovic)

Bojana Krsmanovic, our guest blogger this week, graduated from the University of Novi Sad (Serbia) with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English Language and Literature. She is currently in her fourth year of PhD studies in Education, with research interests revolving around diversifying and de-gendering STEM fields through the affordances of design, arts, and crafts, and specifically DIY practices and making. 


What does it mean? Apart from the multitude of definitions found in countless textbooks, articles, magazines, books, and websites – defining it as ‘the process of teaching and learning, or the organizations such as schools where this process happens’ to those which deem it ‘the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society’ which ‘brings about an inherent and permanent change in a person’s thinking and capacity to do things’ – what does it really mean to eager kids starting school, aspiring teachers, proud parents, whole cultures and societies? What are the values it instills?

What does it make us, as people?

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Une enfant bilingue? Sera que tem isso na minha casa? (by Caroline Dault)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

L’autre soir, au souper, alors que nous recevions des amis et leur fils, j’ai eu la chance de participer au dialogue suivant :

Leur fils, six ans : « Moi, j’suis con. »

Moi : « Comment ça, t’es con? »

Leur fils : « À l’école, ils disent que je suis con. »

Moi : « Qui dit ça? »

Leur fils : « Ben, les autres. »

Moi : « Ah bon? Pourquoi? »

Leur fils : « Ben dans les jeux je fais toute sorte d’affaires. Je me mets la tête en bas, je grimpe sur le dessus des jeux… »

Moi : « Ah!!! Je comprends. Tes amis se trompent de mot. Je pense qu’ils veulent dire que tu es courageux, téméraire, que tu n’as peur de rien… »

Ma fille de cinq ans : « Non, non. C’est pas ça. Ce que tes amis veulent dire, c’est que t’es audacieux. »

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