For the past year, two things have taken up my time. Well three, including JG, but aside from him of course, two. One is school, and the other is a project undertaken by the wife of our Ambassador here in Oman. She decided to produce and publish a book, which comprised of a collection of essays and art works of migrant Filipino children all over the Middle-East. She did this, with a help of some Filipino artists working here in Muscat, by conducting a contest calling for entries and from there the best, interesting, and compelling were chosen to be printed in a book. My part was simple, and that was to catalogue all the entries that came in. The response was quite pleasantly surprising, and we received a little over 700 essays and art works from Filipino kids from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and of course here in Oman. It took a year to collect them, choose, judge, and finally send a manuscript to the printing company, and a few weeks ago during the Philippine National Day, we launched the book, and exhibited the artworks in a gallery.
The publishing of the book itself was a great accomplishment for everyone who worked and helped, but what was for me the best take in this experience is to get a sense of what it is like to be a migrant child. The insights these kids wrote and drew were poignant, cute, often funny, and sometimes heartbreaking, but for most determined of how such young individuals adapt and work their way in a land not their own. I got so caught-up in the subject of migrant children that I decided to use it as the main topic of my thesis, before I get my Masters degree.
I find it fascinating how migration, and transition (which was the main theme of the book) affects these children; most importantly in aspects of their development; how they see the world, how different they are from those who grew up back-home, whether or not growing up abroad weakens or strengthens their connection to their heritage, and how this shapes what they become as they grow.
As I do my reading, I learn about assimilation and acculturation, bicultural conflicts, depression among other things, I learn about the effects of migration on adults and can only imagine how it is with children.
I guess in some level this affects me because JG and I may have to one day decide whether our future children will have to face the same kind of challenge. And if for nothing else, what I get from this is to at least be ready for when that time comes.
I hope to be able to learn more as I go about this paper I plan to write, and if the essays and paintings are an indication, I hope to find more testimonies of resilience and how innocence and wonder of these kids overcome the challenge of being uprooted from their home lands.