Re-Imagining Migration: Finding our Way in a World on the Move

UCLA initiative gathers practitioners and stakeholders across education, museums, and libraries to examine better ways to serve immigrant children and youth.

Recent days have seen newspaper headlines and cable news programs filled with disturbing images and stories of migrant children and youth held in deplorable conditions in U.S. Border facilities. Attorneys and journalists visiting the sites where migrants seeking asylum are being detained report of children going without food, lacking access to soap and water needed to bathe or even a tooth brush to brush their teeth. Many children are apparently in soiled clothes, with diapers unchanged for babies and toddlers. They are held in barbaric conditions — going without blankets, and sleeping on concrete floors. In recent months, children have died. 

As horrific as the plight of these young migrants is, they are not the first, and they are not alone. Across the globe, migrants are on the move, driven by climate change, war, terror and unstable states, in search of a better life.  Migration is reaching historic proportions and reshaping nations. In the United States one of every four children under the age of 18 have an immigrant parent. By 2050, one in three children will reside in an immigrant-headed family. This shift in population is already bringing tremendous opportunity to our nation, but will also bring change and challenge to our communities, schools, and culture.

In Washington D.C., President Trump and members of Congress are locked in battle over what to do and how to care for the Central American migrants streaming across the Southern border.  But a much larger conversation is needed. This weekend, from June 27 to June 29 in the shadow of the nation’s Capitol, teachers, museum educators, scholars, and change agents are beginning that conversation, gathering to examine the opportunities and demands of a world on the move.

Professor of Education Carola Suárez-Orozco, co-founder of Re-Imagining Migration at UCLA, addressed a cadre for Re-Imagining Fellows at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. Courtesy of Marcelo Suárez-Orozco

The research workshop is a project of Re-Imagining Migration, an educational research, development, and civic engagement initiative at UCLA that seeks to ensure that all young people grow up understanding migration as a shared condition of our past, present, and future in order to develop and sustain inclusive and welcoming communities. Meeting at the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., the Re-Imagining Migration Fellows will explore how we might best prepare our immigrant-origin youth and their peers to develop their full human potential and participate in the construction of more inclusive societies. 

“Migration is as old as humanity itself; it has changed the world and will change the world again moving forward”, says Marcelo Suárez Orozco, Wasserman Dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and Co-Founder of Re-Imagining Migration. “It is one of the critical issues facing our nation with tremendous implications for our schools and communities. Yet, our thinking and teaching about the challenge and opportunities in human migration remain limited and fragmented. We are failing to prepare our youth to understand one of the most pressing civic issues of our time, and to prepare them to navigate a world of increasing diversity and complexity. We aim to change that.” 

Over the two-day seminar, Fellows will become familiar with the Re-imagining Migration Framework to educate immigrant-origin youth, their peers, and the adults around them in order to navigate a world shaped by migration. The Fellows will also work to develop the understanding and key pedagogical tools to teach about migration as a shared human condition in classrooms, museums, and other educational contexts. They will also begin to design educational inquiry projects to be carried out during the 2019- 2020 academic year as part of the Re-imagining Migration Fellowship and continue to build and strengthen the Re-imagining Migration’s Fellows’ network. 

“Migrants today – including those being treated inhumanely at our southern border, like so many waves before them – will become an integral part of the fabric of our nation,” says Suárez-Orozco. “How we treat them, how we engage them in our schools, culture. and community, and what we learn from them and the others that have come before will play a critical role in their success and ours moving forward. Our schools and cultural institutions are essential to addressing this challenge.  We hope our Re-imagining Migration Fellows will help to foster success of immigrants in our nation and further our understanding of the contributions they make to our communities and culture.”

Re-imagining Migration is an initiative of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies in collaboration with Project Zero at Harvard University. The 2019 Re-Imagining Migration Fellows Seminar is being held in partnership with the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution.  

Above: Veronica Boix-Mansilla (pictured) presented a talk on “Finding ‘Home’ in a World on the Move” with Carola Suárez-Orozco, at the National Gallery of Art during the inaugural seminar of the Re-Imagining Migration Fellows in June.

Courtesy of Marcelo Suarez-Orozco