Centre for Innovation & Research in Childhood and Youth

Interdisciplinary, international & in the real world

transistional childhoods

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Home and Away: Transnational Simultaneity

By Benji Zeitlin

It took about half an hour after landing in Dhaka at the beginning of my fieldwork with British Bangladeshi families from London for the feeling to hit me. I shuffled off the flight from Doha in a haze and gradually awoke as a taxi drove me into the city. The sights, smell and sounds of Dhaka took me back vividly to the years of my childhood spent in the city. The powerful, confusing feeling, I now think of as a combination of nerves about the beginning of my fieldwork, the weary guardedness of being alone in a far away country, and a sense of being at home, as the car honked and harried its way through the traffic.

I was on my way to Sylhet to meet a British Bangladeshi family from London who were participating in my research. A brief stopover in Dhaka allowed me to revisit some of the places I had known as a child. Being in Dhaka felt like being in the eye of a ferocious cyclone. All around was chaos of breath taking scale and complexity. The traffic had swelled to fill every shred of road, but it competed with flows of wires, goods and busy people in a city-system that was dense and diverse, seemingly on the edge of collapse and yet somehow fantastically resilient. The city had exploded into a monstrous mega city, a building site of concrete and reinforcing rods extending in all directions as far as one could see. At the same time, at the centre of this cyclone, inside I felt a sense of calm that I could not reconcile with the surroundings. It came from a subconscious, affective feeling connected with my childhood memories of the place. Continue reading


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Spending stars

By Isabella Wells, 1st year BACY student

bridgeI didn’t have any idea of what Rotterdam would be like, all I knew was that the Dutch have a friendly reputation and their educational system has been rated positively. When I arrived in Rotterdam I was surprised by how modern the city is, everywhere you look you will be mesmerized by a structure or building. The exchange University fulfilled their reputation by making us feel welcome, always making sure we have a tea and coffee in our hand and generally making sure we were ok.

I’m going to speak about one of the two work places that I experienced with Nikki and Ollie, as this day was the most eye opening for me. Continue reading


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We’re All Going To MMU…

A couple of summers ago a colleague mentioned that she’d been to the Summer Institute in Qualitative Research at MMU and had found it hugely stimulating. I remember at the time regretting that I had not been sharper in making time to go. So when a couple of colleagues mentioned that they’d signed up this time around, I decided to commit.

I could misrepresent what has happened since. I could massage a narrative that suggests that we all – with some gendered empathetic synchronicity – agreed that we would love nothing more than to offer ourselves en masse as a ‘Sussex Symposium’ to present at the event. In reality it happened a little differently and involved me unashamedly imposing my will upon the group in terms of a kernel of an idea I’d had of what we might do and how we might do it. Continue reading


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What you can do with a bit of space

By Steven Crowe.  2nd year BACY student

On our trip to Rotterdam we witnessed a variety of different areas of social care and social work, and the university had kindly set up visits to a variety of different organisations and settings to get a feel for some of the work that is being done in and around Rotterdam. For myself as a residential worker, the prospect of going to see how residential care can be delivered in the Netherlands was too tempting an offer to miss. So we made our way to Alphen Aan Den Rijn (that’s on the Rhine to you and me) To a place called RijnHove, run by an organisation called Horizon.

What immediately struck me from the beginning was the sheer scale of space in the environment. Continue reading


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The ‘social’ in social work

By Ollie Mills, Social Work student

The Education and Social Work trip to Rotterdam was fascinating and enjoyable from beginning to end. That being said, as a social work student, I have to say that day three was my personal favourite. This was the day that two students of Childhood and Youth Studies and I had the opportunity to shadow a social worker in her office and district (something like a London Borough) and later visited a school to see the integration of social work in an educational setting.

We were introduced to Mariam and she kindly gave us a tour of the office and a rundown of her time in social work. Mariam is a part time student, balancing her studies with a demanding social work role and very real responsibilities. Her remit is quite specific as she works in a youth team, primarily with parents/children who have mild/moderate intellectual disabilities. Within her office, there are many professionals, all bringing specialised skills/backgrounds with them Continue reading


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Henk Oosterling’s lesson: Responsibility starts early

Further reflections by Alina

Next, the University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam, offered us a lesson to remember. With hints of John Dewey, and a flavour of social pedagogy, Henk Oosterling’s TED talk about a more contemporary battle was simple but powerful. Using the example of London riots, the philosopher stressed the importance of up-bringing, of educating children to avoid violence, and on reshaping educational structure so that children learn to be responsible for their acts. Oosterling’ s answer to the social problems affecting Rotterdam, neighbourhood violence in particular,  was “skills city”.

He criticised how the educational system discourages children from being interested when natural curiosity is embedded in their nature. Continue reading

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Falling for Rotterdam

By Alina Chirila 2nd year BACY student

It is not very hard to fall in love when you’re a pretty accurate version of Don Quixote. On this occasion, in my own search for meaning and beauty, I hoped to fall for the Dutch, and God, it really did happen. Black tulips, libertine coffee shops with their magic mushrooms and all sorts of curiosities, clogs and gouda cheese have nothing to do with my own falling in love and believe me, I’m not just a fool.


This story begins with a particular charm infused by the town of Rotterdam, and its riverside setting, very 2015 chic-industrial look, artistic at the same time. People there seemed very to the point, saying what they mean and meaning what they say, and not really up for talking about the weather. Our university exchange was not long, but Continue reading


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