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Tomorrow’s Nobel laureates?

Anna Lindström and Monika Lopez of the Department of Culture and Communication applied earlier this year for funding for an initiative in an issue relating to refugees. The funding was granted, and the “Tomorrow’s Nobel laureates” project was born. And the study visits for newly arrived young people were actually even better than they had expected.

Pupils from a primary school in Skäggetorp outside Campushallen Building

A primary school in Skäggetorp, a district on the outskirts of Linköping, is central to the project. Around 30 boys from grades 7-9 at the school gather outside the Campushallen Building. This is the third study visit held under the auspices of the “Tomorrow’s Nobel Laureates” project, in which newly arrived young people visit the university. The first activity for the day is a session of Sh’bam dancing.

“We discovered that it’s a good idea to start with something physical. Everybody’s a bit nervous, including us,” says Anna Lindström, doctoral student at the Department of Culture and Communication, after the dance session. The group is on its way to the Key Building, where mid-morning coffee and talks are waiting.

Pupils dancing Sh'bam The name of the project comes from the façade of the school, where it is formulated as: “Many Nobel laureates have backgrounds in two cultures. We want to educate tomorrow’s Nobel laureates.” Ninety-eight percent of the pupils here have another mother tongue than Swedish, and 75% are classified as newly arrived.

The idea of the initiative is to present the opportunities that the university offers, when the time comes. The project in this way can make the step to the university shorter and create a feeling that “The university is open to me”. A study visit may just be what’s required to sow a seed that will bring fruit later.

“Many of the pupils have an idea of what they want to do in life, and they also have the determination required to achieve it. They don’t know, however, what’s possible, or how to adapt to the system,” Malin Ramström points out. She is maths, science and technology teacher at the school in Skäggetorp. “The study visit inspires the pupils to study: here they can see what’s available and they realise that opportunities are open to them. For many of these pupils, it’s a positive experience simply to visit somewhere that is not Skäggetorp.”

Mid-morning coffee is waiting for them in the Key Building, with LiU students Ahmed Dia Jeber, who is studying computer science, and Summia Al-Mufti, who is studying information technology. As they describe their journeys from their home country to LiU, an almost reverential silence falls on the room: there’s no rowdiness, giggling or chatter as there often is when 30 14-year-olds get together.

Ahmed Dia Jeber’s narrative about how he studied while working at McDonalds to learn better Swedish, his advice to set objectives in life, his strategy to reach them by setting simple intermediate goals such as not being late to school, doing your homework and respecting the teachers, and his assurance that you have to dare to fail – all of this makes a deep impression on the listeners. Maybe one of the pupils captured what everyone was feeling: “Thanks for being here and sharing this with us.”

Anna Lindström, Ahmed Dia Jeber, Summia Al-Mufti and Monika Lopez. “It was great,” says Jack Georges, one of the pupils. He wants to become a song artist and actor. “They explained what we have to do, and how hard you have to fight. Everyone else just says ‘Do as you please’.”

His friend Alamin Abdullah agrees.

“Yeah – and they were a bit younger: they understand what it’s like to be our age. My dad went to university and my elder brother is going to study psychology. Me – I want to be an astrophysicist.”

“We wanted to show the wide range that is available at the university, and we wanted to show what it’s like to be a student. The talks by Summia and Ahmed are very successful. They have the same background as these pupils, and I’m sure that they make contact with them in a different way,” says Monika Lopez, assistant lecturer at the Department of Culture and Communication.

Both Monika Lopez and Anna Lindström are completely satisfied with the project.

“Actually, it worked better than we expected,” says Anna Lindström. “Several of the pupils were ablaze with enthusiasm afterwards, and we received quite a few hugs as they left.”

“Even though these pupils won’t be choosing whether to go on to university for quite a long time, I’m convinced that this study visit will remain with them in the back of their minds, and may be reactivated when they choose university. It’s a small isolated experience, but it may be very significant,” Monika Lopez believes.

But the study visit isn’t over yet. The pupils visit the library (and other places) on the way to lunch in the Kårallen Building, and then Fredrik Löfgren and his robots are waiting for them. And the pupils return to Skäggetorp with a goodie bag that includes the catalogue of Liu’s programmes and courses.

Nor is the project “Tomorrow’s Nobel laureates” over yet. Monika and Anna will follow up the study visits held this autumn with visits to the University Hospital Campus, to enable pupils to see LiU’s work in medicine and the health sciences.

Would you like to join in and show your activity, programme or research during a study visit at Campus US? You can in this way spread knowledge of the university and its broad activities.

If so, contact Monika Lopez or Anna Lindström. There may be a future Nobel Prize winner among these young people!


Text and photo: Elisabet Wahrby

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Last updated: 2017-02-13