Dear EMMIR students, dear members of the EMMIR community,
As many new cases of the novel coronavirus continue to appear around the world, our deepest sympathies go out to everyone affected. We especially have concern for the migrants and refugees around the world who will be disproportionately affected by the virus—for example, by increased family fragmentation due to closed borders, by a higher infection risk due to the living conditions e.g. in refugee camps, by difficulties to access health care, to name just a few of the risks.
We understand that the changes in our everyday lives that all of us are experiencing have left our community with many questions. We are actively working on communications that will provide answers to some of these and we will be as clear as possible with regard to those that we are unable to answer. We would like all of us to use the tools we have—the website, social media, e-mail and others—to enhance our coping strategies and to virtually counteract the ‘social distance’ we have to keep in our everyday life. You are all invited to share your ideas, knowledge and creativity to help manage the current situation and its future development. It might also be seen as a test to what kind of community EMMIR is and how we cope with difficulties together.
EMMIR currently has two cohorts of active students. Cohort 8 students are currently in their fourth semester, spread in a variety of countries and mostly in the data collection and writing stages for their theses. Cohort 9 students are in Stavanger, Norway for their second semester, where the University of Stavanger has suspended classes and is looking into options for online teaching.
This week, we will approach all students of both cohorts individually and collect information about their current situation and their plans. Once we are able to have a clear picture of their diverse needs and concerns, we expect to be able to provide more comprehensive information at the end of the week.
On Thursday and Friday, we will host a plenary session via an online meeting platform (still TBD) where we will discuss the concerns of both cohorts. We hope that this forum will also serve as a fair of ideas for activities that will help us to cope with the situation.
Topics we expect to address in the plenary are: questions regarding credits for modules and online teaching (these are currently primarily dealt with by UiS/UNG, in consultation with UOL) as well as issues concerning scholarships, travel, health insurance and more. Please help us prepare by sending e-mails to the UOL team after you had your individual consultation. Please be assured that we are currently looking into many of the actual and potential concerns, but that e.g. the EACEA also needs time to adjust its policies and regulations.
Secondly, we would like to use the plenary session to brainstorm ways to stay connected during these times of social isolation. We will suggest certain activities, namely the setup of working groups—but we trust that you will have ideas, too. Please prepare to share them with us!
We call upon all students to stay informed about the current developments in their current locations and home countries. We recommend you to stay in touch with your host universities and we will also keep you informed about the latest instructions given to us by the EACEA, partner universities and national authorities. For preliminary information from the EACEA, please see here.
We would also like to urge students, at this point, to follow the advice of the national health authorities in their home and host countries. Travel bans are put into place in order to prevent and slow down the spread of the virus, and for this reason, you should avoid unnecessary trips. COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, and even if young people statistically have a much lower risk of serious cases, one single person carrying the virus unknowingly can present a critical threat to everyone around them.
Let us all face the situation by acting to prevent social isolation, by using our creative and intellectual skills to further develop the EMMIR community into a space of solidarity, within and beyond,
Stay healthy, and best wishes from
Gabriella Mikiewicz, on behalf of the UOL EMMIR Team