Visiting an all-deaf research team: Finnish PhD student Nina Sivunen’s 2 months with MobileDeaf

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Hello! My name is Nina Sivunen and I am a PhD student at the Centre of Applied Language Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. I got a University of Jyväskylä Science Council´s Research Mobility Grant for strengthening strategic partnership and career development. I applied for this grant to join the all-deaf research team and project, MobileDeaf, here at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland for two months.

My PhD research focuses on deaf asylum seekers’ communication experiences in Finland. As visiting researcher I am writing a journal article here and I got valuable feedback on my draft from the MobileDeaf researchers. The MobileDeaf project was the perfect location to spend two months, since we have the same core interests, in subjects such as International Sign, translanguaging, international mobility and language ideologies. I participated in MobileDeaf’s weekly reading groups and documentary film discussions, in which we discussed academic texts, our data from current and previous research projects, and what it means to do ethnographic research as a deaf researcher. I also participated in two “writing clinics”, which were sessions in which we discussed the process of writing academic texts. An all-day workshop on sign language ideologies was organised, too, and I look forward to a roundtable on International Sign which will be organised next week. All these themes are central to my PhD and it was extremely valuable to me to have these academic discussions directly in International Sign and BSL, without mediation of interpreters.

I also participated in teaching a class on migration and interpreting, sharing data from my research with the 4th year BSL students at Heriot-Watt University. I taught some International Sign with MobileDeaf project researcher Amandine for visiting ASL students and teachers from the US here at Heriot-Watt University.

Networking is important part of academic work and research, and that is another reason why I am here as visiting researcher. I have met many deaf and hearing researchers with whom I have overlapping interests, coming from the UK and abroad, during lunch breaks, lectures, roundtables, workshops and the Bridging the Gap 5 conference here at Heriot-Watt University. My identity as deaf academic researcher has grown a lot while being here for two months.

Many many thanks to MobileDeaf project, Annelies, Steve, Erin and Amandine for having me here with you. I really enjoyed talking with you for countless hours about our research. Also many thanks to the BSL team at Heriot-Watt University for your patience during my process of learning BSL.  Thank you!

I hope all the best and wish you successful years for the MobileDeaf project.