Building resilience through mobility: transnational Ghanaian youth negotiating their educational trajectories
Professor Valentina Mazzucato presented at Symposium "Education and youth in transnational social spaces", University of Duisburg-Essen, March 2018.
This paper analyzes how Ghanaian youth's national and transnational mobility shape their educational trajectories both at home and abroad by impacting their resilience. The academic debate on the relation between youth's migration, resilience and educational trajectories has mainly been studied by psychologists who focus on a single nation-state context to study resilience as a response to challenging circumstances. In this national framing, migration is seen as exposing youth to adversity after which youth need to develop resilience in order to assure 'positive adaptation' to the national context, for example in the educational sphere (Khanlou & Wray, 2014). Yet little has been done by way of researching what kind of mobility youth engage in and how it affects their resilience, and hence ability to shape their educational trajectories. We follow youth between Ghana and The Netherlands: their mobility as they travel back to Ghana on summer vacations or for educational purposes and document a process of gaining or re-gaining self-conﬁdence and courage to continue their educational trajectories in The Netherlands. We argue that mobility exposes youth to different contexts of educational expectations through which they build resilience thus showing that even when youth migrate abroad the educational context in Ghana is of signiﬁcance in shaping resilience in youth. As such, youth's educational trajectories transcend the walls of the classroom and the borders of nation-states, allowing family members who live in different localities to make them resilient. The paper is based on 19 months of multi-sited ethnographic research following 30 16-25 year old mobile Ghanaian youth.