04 SES 08 D, Refugees In School And Higher Education: New Policies And Practices
The goal of the study is to shine a spotlight on the integration of migrant students in education and explore the complexities of this process, in terms of understandings, feelings, and intentions of those centrally involved: domicile and migrant youth and educators. Inclusion is a relational process, not only among individuals and groups but also with broader social structures. Inclusion relates to exclusion among myriad dynamics mediated by mundane practices, especially language. Narrative and other expressive media bring individuals in static and traveling positions into contact, conflict, and, ideally positive mutual development. The present study occurred in the context of the 2015 – 2018 migration process across Eurasia, marked by shifting political processes (Agustin & Bak Jørgensen, 2018), human tragedy (Cuesta, Godwin, Schusterman, & Chavez, 2018; Pinson, Arnot & Candappa, 2010; European Commission, 2015) and increasing capacity of education systems to include migrants throughout Europe (Bartlett, 2015; OECD, 2018; Dovigo, 2018).
This study is an analysis of narratives by diverse stakeholders in Serbia whose voices are raised in the context of interventions to include youth taking refuge from violence conflicts in the Middle East. Some of this material, using a different analytical approach, was presented at Grbic, Vesic & Kovacs-Cerovic (2018). Dynamic storytelling design provides a reliable method for integration of diverse stakeholders around issues requiring interventions of policy, practice, and research (Daiute, 2008; 2014; Daiute & Kovacs-Cerovic, 2017). This analysis addresses the research question: How do Serbian and migrant youth echo and transform broader societal narratives about inclusion of migrant youth from the Middle East? We invited participants to use diverse genres – in this case stories, letters, and policies -- to make sense of their environments, their roles in them, and intentions for social change.
Participants used those diverse genres to enact different aspects of their knowledge, experience, and goals and thus provide a complex range of engagements with their environments for their own benefit (i.e. sense-making) and to inform others about ongoing challenges, strategies, and successes in the integration process. Writing a letter involves direct expression to a stated audience (individual, group, role), which tends to invite expressions of norms, while writing a narrative involves exploring details of characters situated in time and space. The same person who embraces the diverse qualities of those genres for personal and social purposes expresses breadth and complexity. Both genres allow better understanding of the richness of stances and perspectives, that we find as crucial to learn from and to nurture , especially given the danger of overriding worthy real-life experiences by dominant divided societal discourses.
These few excerpts from narratives and letters express diverse values that emerge from the various life positions of domicile and migrant youth and the complicated nature of the interactions between them. I suggest that you spend as much time as you can with them [migrant students]. … Give them a lot of attention and understanding. While writing with hope, some look to a higher power: always say i can do it! Never stop looking up, God will help you. Children also used the story genre with some of its imaginative device to reveal that conflicts do occur: Afterwards, the migrant and the girl were attacked with water-guns by the girl with the most prolific jeans. The journeys of great difficulty emerge for the toll they take. And then I leave my sweet homeland. … to Pakistan then to Iran, then Turkey and Bulgaria, … When we crossed Greece border when police caught us. Our project ultimately expects that increasingly complex understandings of what seem like cross-currents will lead to improved practice and policy.
Because previous dynamic storytelling research shows that young people share complex ranges of knowledge and experience when using diverse genre expressions, this study where issues of belonging and exclusion abound asked students to write a letter and a narrative. Sampling includes expressions by 94 domicile children/youth aged 8-15 (188 texts), 35 migrant youth from Afghanistan and Syria aged 10-18 (70 texts) and several national documents stating relevant policies. The instructions to the students were: Write a story about a real or imagined event involving a migrant student in school in Serbia. Write about what happened, who was involved and how they felt; and Write a letter to a peer at a school where migrant children will enroll (or, to a peer with migrant background planning to enroll in school). Give him/her suggestions on what to expect, take care about how to behave. The unit of analysis is “value”, norms, beliefs indicated in the diverse genres. Because of the formative nature of different genres, we expect that the letters will be explicit and directive relevant to societal norms, and offer insights about values that young people choose to echo, whereas the narratives will provide a rich range of details drawn and imagined from daily life, address events, psychosocial reactions, and desires of everyday life. These diverse expressions do not reduce the participants to single voices or perspective but invite their range of complexity, possibility, and even contradiction that can generate findings about the perspectives of diverse actors in the contemporary social inclusion process, and about their subjective experiences potentially brining new insights for education and society broadly. Analyses were applied to each sentence (or thought unit) in English translations from Serbian, Farsi and Pashtu. In line with reliable narrative inquiry research (Daiute, 2014), the list of values was generated from iterative analyses of increasing subsets of texts. For the final paper all 258 narratives will be analyzed. Preliminary results thus far are based on analysis of 10% of institutional docs and 15% of Serbian and migrant youth expressions (36 texts, including 336 coded sentences). Of the fourteen values identified and applied thus far, the most frequent are emphases on interpersonal relationships, geo-political origins, affective responses, good/polite behavior, aggressive/bad behavior, higher order interpretations, and life status. As expected, these values emerge very differently in the letters and narratives by domicile and migrant participants, and the documents by policy makers/educators.
Highlights of the policy documents include emphasizing professional responsibilities and cultural practices (19% sentences each). Domicile youth emphasized positive behavior (Be friendly and do not avoid them) in their letters (35 %); aggressive/negative behavior (… the girl with the most popular jeans … said: Leave that dirty migrant, stupid!) in their narratives (15%); and interpersonal relationships (20%). Migrant students’ writings emphasized geo-political origins (19%); obstacles (18%) in narratives; higher order interpretations (22%) in letters; and emotions (In Serbia I like people… Don’t be afraid and don’t lose your hope) in letters and narratives. The title of this proposal guides our interpretation of the value patterns. Echoes - shared value expressions - by institutions, domicile, and migrant students are few, indicating only some uptake of policies in schools. Nevertheless, similar values indicate shared focus on inclusion and the need for intervention to support it (12% in policy documents, 14% in narratives, 9% in letters). Differences across stakeholders’ expressions reveal participants’ diverse positionings in relation to their histories and roles before and during migration processes. Notable is that domicile students come across as mediators of social inclusion, similar to youth after the 1990s wars (Daiute, 2010), yet they also use narratives to highlight tensions in cultural practices and offer insights about daily challenges. The most prominent value expressed by the migrant students is reminiscence of their journeys, obstacles, and appeals to higher powers or social justice. Given the emphasis on telling the right trauma story and pressures against its success (Diez, 2011), arduous journeys, like those narrated by migrant youth, take longer than a few years to loosen (Steele et al., 2004). Completion of the analysis of the 258 texts will offer further precision to these findings and nuances that can guide recommendations for policy and practice.
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