We live at a time when more people are on the move than ever before.
Some people choose to move to seek new experiences and opportunities. But many people are forced to move because of armed conflict, persecution, dispossession, and other difficulties. Forced migration creates chaos and stress for individuals, families, and communities, and puts pressure on the communities and countries where they go to escape danger. Young peoples’ lives are often turned upside down, and the experience of growing up, knowing who they are and where they belong, and looking towards a predictable future is disrupted. The Youth Migration Project seeks to understand the experiences of young people who are forced migrants.
The main focus of the Youth Migration Project is on adolescent forced migrants in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. The Project is being done by a team including students and scholars from Canada, Australia, Thailand and Myanmar. It started in 2016 and will continue for several years. Current funders include the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the University of Victoria, Canada.
Education is a major challenge for young people on the move, as their rights to education are often not honoured, and there is little or no continuity of the education across formal, non-formal and informal systems and countries with varying curricula. The first paper published from the Youth Migration Study described these challenges. (see Resources page)
Although nearly half of all forced migrants around the world are children and youth, there is little understanding about how their psychosocial development is impacted, or about their needs in terms of accessing their rights to protection, education, health care, a nationality, and continuity of life in a family. The Youth Migration Project set out, in 2016, to deepen and broaden our understandings. (See Resources page)
Who am I? An important development during adolescence is an emerging and often changing sense of identity – personal, social, national, political, spiritual/ current and aspirational. How does the experience of forced migration, or multiple migration journeys, influence the process of identity formation and change? This is one question the Youth Migration Project explores.
What can I hope for? Hope and plans for the future are common aspects of human experience. As children grow into adolescence and young adulthood, it is typical to aspire towards certain outcomes for oneself and one’s contributions in life. How does being uprooted from one’s home, community and nation as a result of conflict or persecution affect young people’s aspirations about their future? This is a question the Youth Migration Project explores.
The psychological and social impacts of forced migration are being investigated by involving youth between 13 and 16 years old who are forced migrants from various countries living temporarily in Malaysia and Thailand. They are sharing their experiences of migration, belonging, identity, and changing outlooks for the future through interviews, art work and story-telling.