Homelessness in Britain

Britain has seen a staggering rise in homelessness over the last couple of decades. The causes of this crisis are no mystery, while the UK has faced a severe shortage of housing since the 1980s. As a consequence, Britain has forced people into the private rented sector. This has seen housing costs rise while citizens access to support has declined. Stagnant wages, welfare cuts and botched rollout of universal credit has meant that people’s incomes have just not kept pace with their cost of living. This has resulted in more than 169 evictions daily, where the termination of private sector tenancies is the biggest cause of the rise in homelessness in the country. In 2018, approximately 128 000 children spent Christmas in temporary accommodation. A lot of people were also sleeping in cars, trains, buses and tents while there was freezing temperatures going on in the country. This means Britain will now have to form a plan to build affordable homes for people in need for support. When a job no longer ensures you can afford a roof over your head, Britain will have to address benefit cuts urgently. According to The Guardian, five families become homeless every hour in England.

A homeless person's tent pitched outside KFC on the main shopping street on Western Road, in Brighton

Picture retrieved from The Guardian

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/01/political-issues-2018-homelessness-universal-credit-social-care-child-poverty

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/18/homelessness-crisis-people-homes-finland-us

 

 

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My first blogpost of English Social Studies

Welcome to my first blogpost as a student of English Social Studies! My name is Kristina and I am 18 years old. This is my final year at Fagerlia High School which means I will soon graduate and continue on studying afterwards. In my spare time I like listening to music which usually covers the Pop or Rap genre. Exercising is also recuperating after a long day at school. On the weekends, I hang out with my friends a lot and watch YouTube videoes. I chose English Social Studies in my third year because I want to improve my language skills and learn more about history in the English-speaking world. That being said, I am gladly looking forward to the excursion trip in October where my class are heading to London. This will truly be an experience for life, visiting the parliament and learning more about the history and culture that has taken place in England. My expectations for this subject will be to learn more about historical events, current debates and political matters that have or are currently taking place in the English-speaking world. Developing my language in a more advanced way is also important to me and what I expect English Social Studies to help me achieve.

Comparing the British and the American political systems taught me that even though both are English-speaking countries, they do have differences and something that clearly separates them from each other. For instance; Britain is a constitutional monarchy which means they have a royal family. In addition, they have a parliamentary democracy in which the party with the greatest representation in the parliament forms the government. The leader of this party will soon become either a prime minister or a chancellor. On the other hand, the United States is a democratic republic which means the citizens elect representatives such as the president, members of congress and senators to run the government. As of now, Donald Trump is the president of the US and he is considered the current leader of the government and the head of state. However, the presidential election for 2020 is soon to come and it is quite exciting thinking about who will become the next leader. Maybe Donald Trump will win the upcoming election next year, and govern for another four years? The British Parliament are separated in two. It consists of the House of Lords which is appointed and the House of Commons which have 650 elected members to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system. In addition, Britain has many political parties and is a multi-party system. Since the 1920s, the two dominant parties have been The Labour Party and The Conservative Party. They also have several other parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party and the Brexit Party. The congress in the US also consists of two chambers and represent both the senate and the House of Representatives. In total, the congress consists of 535 members. The US has two major parties; The Democratic Party and The Republican Party in which Donald Trump is a republican politician. They have the winner takes it all system which means voters do not vote directly for electors, but instead vote for the presidential and vice-presidential candidate team for which the electors are pledged. This applies to both Britain and the US. The only difference is that the US has an election every four years whilst Britain has every five.

I have learned a lot about different political issues that is going on in the English-speaking world today. One of them is the Brexit issue, where people talk about the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. For decades, a significant part of the UK population has been dissatisfied with Britain being a part of the EU. They have considered the cost of being a member too high compared with the benefits. This led to a referendum in 2016, where people could vote if they wanted to be a part of the EU or not. The result was shocking considering the UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. The majority was only 4%. Former prime minister Theresa May worked very hard to negotiate an acceptable divorce agreement with EU, but the parliament turned down her all three attempts. Later on, Boris Johnson took over the role as prime minister and sidelined the Parliament with setting a course for no-deal. His intention is to get a new, better agreement before October 31st, and to do so he needs to threaten the EU with the credible prospect of no-deal. If Britain leaves with no deal, Britain’s political hand will be weaker.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/politics/eu_referendum/results

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/08/29/how-parliament-can-stop-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with an estimate of 188 million people, as of 2017. The multilingual country comprises of different ethnic groups; Hausa in the northern region, Yoruba in the western region and Igbo in the eastern region. The official language in Nigeria is English due to the country’s colonial period. It all started with Christian missionaries sharing English among Nigerian natives. Suddenly, the bridge between the two different cultures was build and the process of language integration took off. The English used in Nigeria ended up having its own special norms, because the Nigerian natives added something special to the language.

Let’s get more in detail about the Nigerian history. In 1841, British missionary and activist groups entered the African continent, which raised the adaptation of English language even more. They used three British iron steam vessels to travel to Lokoja, at the confluence of the Niger River and Benue River, in what is now Nigeria. The British government made treaties with the native People and introduced Christianity. This promoted trade as well. Sadly, the crews of the boats suffered from disease. Nowadays, children in Nigeria learn English as their major and main language. Most of them doesn’t even know a couple of words in their native language. That being said, there are still places in Nigeria where it is opposite. However, in the big cities there are lots of English speakers.

Nigerian English

Nigerian English is based on British English, but in recent years it has been influenced by American English as well. In addition, some new collocations and new words have emerged from the language. For instance; “trafficate” is a Nigerian English word which refers to the use of indicator lights in your car to show that direction you intend to turn.

Quote

Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian writer, playwright and poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986. His writing focuses on oppression and exploitation of the weak by the strong. He has also played an important role in Nigerian politics. For instance; the government of General Sani Abacha (1993-1998), pronounced a death sentence on him “in absentia”. One of his most famous novel is “You Must Set Forth at Dawn”, but I really like the quote down below by him as well.

“My horizon on humanity is enlarged by reading the writers of poems, seeing a painting, listening to some music, some opera, which has nothing at all to do with a volatile human condition or struggle or whatever. It enriches me as a human being”

This quote says to me that reading poems or listening to some music very much escapes the brutal reality for some time. The reality of a volatile human condition or struggling with something in life, is so harsh, that it has to be ignored and overlooked sometimes. No human being can put all their effort into problems. Sometimes you need space to live life on your own and evolve and grow from own mistakes. The theme of the poem is humanity and happiness, because it touches on what makes you happy in the long run and that everyone should and needs to escape a little from the harsh reality.

News

According to PressTV, 34 villagers in Nigeria were recently killed by armed bandits on motorcycles. This happened on Friday, in Nigeria’s northern Zamfara state, where criminal gangs have been terrorizing distant villages. The bandits opened fire on several farmers’ fields and pursued those who fled. It is shocking and horrible news for someone like me to hear about, because I can’t imagine this killing spree happening in Norway. The local residents are absolutely frightened about the situation, and put the death toll higher, at 35. Witness Shehu Shinkafi said she heard gunshots and saw people running for shelter and their own life, being chased by men on motorbikes.

Sources:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/16/598669/Nigeria-villages-bandit-residents-massacre

From Achebe To Adichie: Top Ten Nigerian Authors

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_expedition_of_1841

https://www.legit.ng/1157471-the-origin-english-language-nigeria-importance.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_English

Gran Torino

“Gran Torino” is a movie directed by Clint Eastwood. It offers a glimpse into the misconceptions that people who come from different cultural groups often have about one another. Through the unlikely friendship that develops between a boy and a man who have both cultural and generational differences, the viewer eventually notices their growing respect for one another’s way of life. Elderly Walt Kowalski is a former Korean War veteran, recently widowed. He doesn’t get along with his sons neither his grandchildren, which seem more interested in getting the value of his house. As such, he lives a peaceful life with his dog “Daisy” in the same house he has lived in for years, in a Michigan neighborhood. Recently, the neighborhood has gone through changes where it is now racially mixed. Next door to Walt’s lives an ethnic Hmong family. Initially Walt wants nothing to do with his new foreign neighbors. Eventually, Walt does get involved in Thao and Sue’s lives, despite Thao having once tried to steal Walt’s beloved 1972 mint Gran Torino. The theft was a Hmong gang initiation ritual, a gang which Thao genuinely don’t want to belong. Somehow Walt sees that Thao and Sue will never be able to live a life in peace as long as the gang exists. As a consequence, Walt has to figure out what is best for neighborhood, and the outcome ends drastically bad.

  1. How do we see oppression of the Hmong people in this film? What has the film taught you about the Hmong people in the USA?

“Gran Torino” represents the Hmong people in the USA as either dangerous criminals or acquiescent. Both stereotypes legitimize discrimination towards Asian Americans. If you are a person easy to believe what you see in movies, you can definitely be affected by racist attitudes watching this film. “Gran Torino” says to me that there are no Hmong characters who take individual action to protect the community. Especially considering the Hmong gang that threatens the neighborhood. In addition, the movie tells me that there are no Hmong characters who emerge to fight back against the gang who terrorized it. The ethnic group leave the responsibility up to former Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski, who is seen as the hero in the neighborhood. In addition, much of Walt’s views of life are shaped by his time in the Korean War. It is sort of his instinct to be a helping hand, even though he views the Hmong as less worthy.

  1. What are some of the challenges and pressures Thao and Sue have to deal with as second-generation immigrants?

The Hmong is an ethnic group that has lived in Southeast Asia for thousands of years. During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, the Hmong people in Laos partnered with the Americans to fight against Southeast Asian Communist. Consequently, many became refugees when Laos fell under Communist rule in 1975. Although there live many Hmong in China, Vietnam and Thailand today, nearly all of the Hmong who settled in the U.S. are from Laos. Currently, Minneapolis and St.Paul in Minnesota share the highest Hmong population in the U.S. The presentation of the Hmong characters in “Gran Torino” are close to stereotypical representations of Asian Americans. Thao and Sue are a part of the Hmong family living next door to Kowalski, and they are depicted as second-generation immigrants who are unable to protect and care for themselves. Walt is truly affected by racist attitudes after the Vietnam War due to Hmong refugees arriving the US. This is a huge challenge for both Sue and Thao, because they are seen as helpless and less worthy to Kowalski. However, they seem to be in desperate need for his intervention. For instance; when the Hmong gang rolled in the neighborhood, Walt was the one yelling at them to go away. He is the American boss in the neighborhood and isn’t scared of his statements.

Sources:

http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/01/17/gran-torino-white-masculinity-racism/

http://education.mnhs.org/immigration/communities/hmong

 

TKR- BOOK VS. FILM

“The Kite Runner” is a novel written by Khaled Hosseini and a film directed by Marc Forster. The book is claimed to be the first Afghan novel written in English and was published in 40 countries. Personally, I have both read the novel and seen the movie. Naturally, I noticed some contrasts between the two. One of the first differences I noticed between the film and the book is that Hassan, the main character’s best friend, doesn’t have a cleft lip in the film. In the book, the cleft lip is mentioned several times. In fact, the first time Hassan is introduced, he is called “the harelipped kite runner”. On the other hand, the harelip in the book may have been to emphasize the ethnic difference between Hassan, who is Hazara, and the other ethnicity, which was Pashtun.

The scene when Assef rapes Hassan is also particularly different. In the novel, the rape scene is described in detail. We are told “Assef knelt behind Hassan, put his hands on Hassan’s hips and lifted his bare buttocks” etc. In the movie, we only see Hassan getting shoved down and his pants pulled down. Thence, the scene cuts away. Anyhow, the limitations of this scene are understandable since it would be too graphic to show much else.

Bilderesultat for hassan and amir 

Picture of Amir and Hassan, retrieved from therunkiter.wordpress.com

At the end of the book, as Baba and Amir flee from Kabul, Amir is said to be 18 years old, whereas in the movie, he is still depicted by a much younger actor. When they finally arrive in Peshawar, they are kept in the basement of a house in destitute conditions, full of people, rats and feces. Only a week later, Amir and Baba enter a gasoline truck to move on. In the movie however, the director completely omits the week they spend waiting, and they move from storage truck to gasoline truck and continue their way.

Overall, the movie displays the main entities of The Kite Runner book. However, some significant details were left out which may alter the views of the characters by one who has not read the book. Honestly, I recommend reading the book before watching the film.

Sources:

http://thatwasnotinthebook.com/diff/the_kite_runner_book_2003_vs_the_kite_runner_movie_2007/1

http://www.daria.no/skole/?tekst=12184

https://www.brighthubeducation.com/homework-help-literature/123243-the-kite-runner-book-vs-movie/

THE KITE RUNNER CHARACTERS

So far, The Kite Runner has been an inspiring and compelling novel to study. It is well-written and good for anyone who’s looking for a good read. Personally, I am not a big fan of books. I usually find them boring. However, the author of The Kite Runner manages to draw the reader into the story so profoundly. Therefore, I will deeply recommend the book for those of you struggling with finding a great novel. The Kite Runner is full of suspense and heartwarming scenes. To give you an insight on the story, I have described some of the main characters down below.

Bilderesultat for the kite runner

Picture retrieved from Wikipedia

Amir is the narrator and gifted storyteller of the novel. He is the intelligent and emotional son of a prosperous businessman in Kabul. This somehow makes him grow up with a sense of privilege. Amir’s best friend is Hassan, and he goes back and forth between acting as a worthy friend and attacking Hassan out of jealousy whenever Hassan receives Amir’s father’s attention. For instance, I remember the two boys staying at the pomegranate tree nearby the neighbourhood when Amir started to pelt Hassan with pomegranates. Furthermore, he called Hassan a “coward” and begged him to hit Amir back. Hassan resisted, he never fought back. Hence, Amir is driven by his feelings of guilt.

Hassan is Amir’s best friend and half-brother as well as a servant of Baba’s. Hassan is a truly beautiful person even though he’s had his share of hard times. Not only did he lose his mother (like Amir), but his mother Sanaubar rejected him. With just a glance at the new-born baby, she left. Luckily, Hassan is a selfless and joy-filled creature. He proves himself a trustworthy friend to Amir frequently, covering and defending him when they get in trouble and when the neighborhood bullies threaten them. His characteristics are selflessness, bravery and intelligence. As a broke ethnic Hazara, Hassan is perceived as inferior in Afghan society, and he suffers of racism throughout the book as a result. Hassan grows up acting Ali as his father, though he is Baba’s illegitimate child.

Baba is an affluent business man and the father of Amir and Hassan. First and foremost, Baba believes in doing what is right. This quality he tries to transfer to Amir. Besides, he never let anyone stop him from achieving his goals. Although Baba doesn’t believe in religious fundamentalism, he acts with a confident and courageous behavior. Baba once wrestled a bear and built an orphanage. When essential, he is willing to sacrifice his life for what he stands for. Yet his guilt at having a child with a Hazara woman makes him hide that Hassan is his son. Since Baba can’t love Hassan openly, he doesn’t have an intimate and caring relationship for Amir, though he undoubtedly loves him. Baba’s distance really affects Amir and is one of the primary motivations for Amir’s betrayal on Hassan. He is practising the old “I blame it on my father” defence.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kite_Runner

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/the-kite-runner/

 

Killed for speaking the truth

Condemning people for speaking the truth is not an unknown phenomenon in today’s society. More than 30 journalists were deliberately killed in 2018. One of them were Maharran Durrani. She was killed by a suicide bomb on her way to work in Kabul. Malali Bashir, who was a Colleague of Durrani and survivor of the planned attack told the newspaper The Guardian that they were broadcasting when the blast went off. Still they had to be professional and continue filming. The tragedy makes me absolutely disgusted and speechless. How can somebody be so motivated by despair, fatalism and self-aggrandizement? I think we forget the fact that many journalists have transformed the way we see the world today. For instance, Maharran Durrani participated weekly in a program that focused on women’s rights and modern women’s issues. She even refused to get married in order to care for her family financially. As a journalist you are vulnerable to criticism because there exist people who certainly don’t agree with your opinion. However, I believe speaking up promotes awareness to a problem and educates people in a positive way. We all have a big impact on each other’s lives, and therefore we should use our freedom of speech wisely.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/dec/05/journalists-murdered-khashoggi-kuciak-panama-papers