“Nobody is as knowledgable as everybody” – with those words Professor Valentina Mazzucato from the University of Maastricht ended a conference devoted to a 6-year interdisciplinary and international research project related to migrant youth and how their mobility includes their educational pathways.
Migration has been an important aspect of human life throughout history, with people moving across borders in search of better opportunities, education, and experiences. One group that has experienced migration in recent years is the Ghanaian youth living in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The MO-Trayl project (Mobility trajectories of young lives) was launched to investigate the patterns, experiences, and effects of migration on these young people. The MO-Trayl project is the first of its kind to track the mobility of youth living in Europe and explore how it has influenced their academic and professional lives.
As I enter the conference hall – a charming building nestled in the heart of Maastricht, the warm sun welcomes me and a sound of a melodious piano drifts in from a nearby room, played with great finesse by a talented Ghanaian boy, setting the tone for an afternoon of artistic delight. Then I am greeted by the sight of young Ghanaian students standing confidently on stage, ready to showcase their poetic skills. They recite their verses with an air of confidence and artistry that electrifies the room with excitement. The diverse group of students offers a mixture of cultures that promises a rich and enlightening afternoon.
As the afternoon unfolds, I am transported on a journey of research discoveries and exercises through the eyes of these young and talented performers, UM researchers and other educators coming from all around the world. The conference becomes a melting pot of ideas, thoughts, and discussions about the importance of mobility among the young people. As the research noted – 40 % of the young people travel every year more than 5 times no matter of their economic status.
Maybe every person that once left their country and came back after a certain amount of time had experienced the attachment to cultural roots, has prioritized keeping the transnational networks and also has felt the better economic status they immediately have by going back home from a developed Western country. The students shared a common sense of responsibility as migrants, as everyone in their home country believed in the idea that ‘they are the future’ and ‘they are the ones who can go from rags to riches’.
It’s evident that individuals with a rich history of mobility possess exceptional soft and global skills. As educators, it’s crucial to recognize that international students come into the classrooms with a unique set of experiences and perspectives, often carrying a metaphorical suitcase full of cultural baggage. They must acknowledge the weight they carry and understand that for those with migrational backgrounds, the definition of “home” is a broad and complex concept. By doing so, a more inclusive learning environment and better support for students in their academic and personal growth can be created.
After taking into account all of these established facts, a crucial question arises: how can we utilize this information to improve the current educational system? In a roundtable discussion, we talked about how soft skills can be recognized in the classroom and how the migrant students enrich the students with no mobility background. Ideas like set format for CV from mobility, and guidelines provided from teachers to students were born. Also, the thought of studying a foreign language that is not Latin was also supported by the majority.
In the end of the day, the most important feature is safety, feeling of belongingness and inclusivity. All schools must provide environment in which the migrant students are not in the spotlight but they are “young people who just want to be”.
In conclusion, the conference was not just a gathering of minds, but a celebration of creativity, diversity, and culture. The Ghanaian students left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of the audience, inspiring them to embrace the beauty of culture and the power of language to create meaningful connections. Would you like to know more about MO- TRAYL? Please check https://www.motrayl.com/