Young people settling in a new country face considerable change. Every day brings them new experiences and ways of looking at the world. They need time and space to learn a new language, embrace a bi-cultural identity and feel a sense of belonging. They also need to consider their futures: the skills they require to succeed within a new cultural context and how to strike a balance between what they like to do and are already good at.
At The Huddle, we work with recently arrived teenagers, to learn the language of work and articulate aspirations. They imagine a future for them selves and plan towards making it a reality. They consider the steps required to seek a part-time job and learn about the differences between skills, education, qualification, and work-based training.
In a world this is increasingly globalized, young migrants should fare well – they are readily able to imagine working cross-culturally and internationally; they are flexible and accustomed to change; they are bilingual; and from my observations, they have a strong sense of citizenship and desire to help others.
This month secondary students aged 13-14 have been coming to The Huddle to investigate migration and multiculturalism. They do this by listening to stories from recent migrants recorded at The Huddle and by exploring stories of migration to Victoria over time.
Of the groups who have already visited, about 80% of them have parents who were born overseas. Despite this they initially appear to have limited knowledge of their families’ experiences. Another 10% were themselves born overseas and this group tends to know and be willing to share more about the journey, the reasons behind their parents’ departure and the circumstances in the countries they left behind.
It has been interesting to note that about 90% of these students speak a language other than English at home and in the community. Many students of African and South American heritage know about their countries’ political situation in some detail – of dictators, changes in government, elections, war, gangs and freedom (or lack of).
Students research a country of their choosing using the Immigration Museum’s Origins website that provides information gathered from the census on migration to Victoria. They learn 5-10 words in a new language and take note of their heritage by placing a mark on a world map. They discuss what multiculturalism looks like in Melbourne and record each others’ views on how or where they feel they belong using Flip Cameras.