I have worked as a principal and also a teacher in the adult education field for more than 20 years.
Adult immigrants (and also some teenagers/young people) from all over the world have come to our courses in Norwegian language and social science at our adult education centre which is situated in an rural area, but close to the capital and largest city in Norway, Oslo.
It is only during the last 3-4 years that people from the Baltic states have come to our region, mostly to work. A few have been women who have married Norwegian men. The number of Baltic immigrants is small, about 20, I think, in our municipality. Total number of immigrants in the municipality of Aurskog-Høland is 698, out of a population of 13.995 (5 %).
During all these years we have not had any major socio-cultural conflicts, neither at our centre nor in the local society. I can remember only one conflict at the centre and that was for political reasons (a Kurdish and a Turkish man). We have noticed that some people don’t fancy each other, but are still friendly and show respect to their fellow “students” at the language courses.
But what I really don’t know is what people who come here really feels/ thinks about us and their new environment.
Thinking of it, I should like to have more knowledge about their experiences with coming to us/to our country.
As said; we have had no known conflicts so far. Maybe because the number of immigrants is small and that they to a smaller extent mix with the locals socially?
Of course, it is a good situation that we seem go along well, locals and foreigners. But is it a lasting situation and do I really know that few or no conflicts is a fact? Can there be problems that are not shown through conflict situations? Problems which will show after some time, not in the beginning?
We, at the adult education centre, only meet a minor percentage of the Baltic immigrants through our Norwegian language and social science courses. Does the municipality or the companies inform/talk to the newcomers about the local socio-cultural situation; what to do/what to avoid doing and so on?
I see this more as a question of finding methods than methodology, like:
● Collection of data.
● Statistical techniques used for establishing relationship between data and the unknowns.
● Methods used to evaluate the accuracy of results obtained.
To start with the collection of data, I think that the focus group research we already have agreed upon is a good method. I will also try to have focus group researches at my partner adult education centres in VoPro. That will give us more data and a better foundation to conclude upon.
We are also having a survey with all our students/participants at my centre later this year in which we can also include some questions about the socio-cultural situation.
Maybe the Wise web page can also be used for collecting data, through a survey or in another way?
All in all we have to agree on how much work we will be willing to use on this task. The important thing is possibly the methods we use, more than the results/conclusions we see?
Jan Erik Waagene
Aurskog march 2. 2009