Mapping out the Educational and Future Trajectories of the Children of Internationally Mobile Families "CANCELLED"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:45 AM
Room: 313+314
Danau TANU , School of Social Sciences (M257), University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
Children’s education and future career trajectories are of paramount concern for many transnational families. Educational concerns impact upon whether and when families decide to move internationally together or stay apart. This paper focuses on teenage and young adult children of Asian and African backgrounds who experience a high degree of international mobility while they are growing up and are popularly referred to as “Third Culture Kids” (Useem & Downie 1976). It explores how they experience and articulate, in varying ways, their internationally mobile upbringing and the transnationality of their family lives in relation to their schooling and future. Some make multiple international moves with their families due to their parent(s)’ job placement, while others are sent overseas by their parents to one or more countries on their own for educational purposes. Decisions about their schooling are tempered by their parents’ and their own economic, social and cultural capital in the context of national and international economic and cultural inequalities (Bourdieu 1986). This paper highlights the way pragmatic considerations about education and economic futures intersect with the ambivalence that young people feel about their transnational upbringing and identity, as well as the way they imagine ‘home’. Given that international mobility is the norm for the young cohort I studied, their experiences offer significant insight into the complexity of transnational family lives and its impact on children.

Data is drawn from a yearlong ethnographic research conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2009 at an international school catering to foreign expatriate and local elite families. I conducted participant-observation of high school students (grades 9 to 12), as well as in-depth interviews with over 130 students, school staff, parents and alumni of international schools.