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Education on the Move: Informal Learnings of Honduran Child Migrants In-Transit


Scholars have called attention to the complex implications of migration on children’s well-being, identity (Panting, 2016), and academic aspirations and success (e.g. Abrego, 2014). Migration and education scholarship, however, has continued to prioritize adult-centric perspectives, depicting children as “baggage” rather than actors and agents in their own right (Orellana et al., 2001). As a result, children’s voices have often been silenced and marginalized in research (Pain, 2004; Yeoh & Lam, 2006). Children’s voices afford opportunities to reveal new and valuable perspectives on human nature and migration (Yarwood & Tyrrell, 2012) and support the production of more relevant and responsive research and pedagogies (Vecchio et al., 2017). Given the increasing numbers of minors in-transit within the Central America-U.S. nexus and their growing presence in schools, migrant shelters, and other spaces, the relative absence of children’s voices in existing research is an issue of global importance (Heidbrink, 2020). In response, this present dissertation study asks: How do Honduran children learn and develop as they undergo diverse migratory trajectories within Mexico?

Through a participatory social-justice research design (Creswell & Clark, 2018), I engaged 17 Honduran children ages 5-15 from nine families located in shelters and homes in Monterrey, Nuevo León in the co-creation of knowledge regarding their migratory trajectories. Over five months, I employed a toolkit of qualitative participatory storytelling methods, such as student-generated drawings, timelines, and dramatization (ex. Barros Nock & Ibarra Templos, 2018; Schmidt, 2017), during weekly virtual ‘art club’ sessions. This dissertation unpacks this work through three distinct articles: 1. an analysis of children’s novel funds of knowledge (Moll et al. 2005) developed in-transit; 2. a case analysis of four families’ politicized funds of knowledge (Gallo & Link, 2015) developed while undergoing unique im/migratory conditions; and 3. an analysis of participatory storytelling methods as a means of shifting power between researcher and participant when working with young migrant populations. This work shines a light on the often-hidden journeys of Honduran migrant children in-transit, positing that a greater understanding of these experiences may drive actions directed at meeting im/migrant students’ current and future needs within and outside of educational contexts.

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