“Globalization's narrative for migrants is simply a permanent state of impermanence, through the policy of circular migration.”—Ninotchka Rosca, from Change the Narrative: Transnational as a Noun
As a child of immigrants born and raised in the suburbs of Vancouver, I teetered, like many second generation Filipino-Canadians, between the “home” my parents left behind and the Canadian “home” I could never comfortably claim. It wasn’t because I find Maple syrup too sweet, snow too cold and hockey too far removed from my immediate interests, but because I didn’t look or “act” Canadian despite being fluent in both official languages and having lived in rainy Vancouver my entire life. My bloodline, simply out, didn’t sink deep enough into the Canadian bedrock.
Despite the alienating reality of having been labelled as the “other”, my journey of wanting to belong lead me to an international community of similar nomads eager to root and create a force-to-be-reckoned with identity that extends beyond ethnic backgrounds and mixed tongues. Being neither here nor there, hailing from the Northern Lights to the steamy planes of New Mexico, “Transnational Women”—the community I choose to identify with—are abound with histories of migration and bursting with energy to create homes with firm roots and a strong foundation, constructing unbreakable structures that can weather hail, sleet, and stalwart winds.
Of course, building a home without tools and material is a difficult task, as is trying to create a concrete existence within the narrow parameters of constant flux and fare. “Transnationals”, a community devastated by economic catastrophes, forced to toil in a migratory No Man’s Land, living on shaky temporary work permits and expired visas, are the challenges Transnational women—young and old—must confront in terms of accessing education. The “permanent state of impermanence”, as Feminist author Ninotchka Rosca puts forward, further displaces women in a seesaw status of hand-to-mouth existence.
The impact of economic and status instability is calamitous, both for the individual and for Transnational communities world-wide; and in our money-driven economies, status is everything. Moreover, in our money-driven economies, status is tied to the accessibility of education, and ultimately, the political participation and economic welfare of women and children. That the majority Transnational communities are women; that women are expected to be both breadwinners and caretakers; yet women earn far less than their male counter-parts and are the first to be denied post-secondary education—let alone completing elementary and secondary education in severe cases—it is not too hard to see that the equation does not balance, the numbers don’t add up.
Akin to the combustible and chaotic states of chemistry, so is the struggle for women accessing education to the highest degree. But like the aims of all its laws, chemistry, with its variable negative and positive energies, is always trying to balance itself out, always striving for a state of equilibrium, despite reactions and the external pressures to create solutions that do not adhere to its specific needs and circumstances. This is certainly the case for Transnational communities laden with migrant workers, immigrants and their families who are striving to make changes where access to education and resources is equal to and with everyone; where the status of wealth and health is balanced, no matter how varied the people, no matter the degree of citizenship.
The calls for education for Transnational women are political, cultural and economic expressions. For Filipino Transnational communities, the act of influencing governments to change immigrant laws and to make education an achievable goal is wrestled in the political arena. In the interim rounds of the blood sport that is politics, Filipino Transnational communities are changing the cultural landscape from individual exertion to collective undertakings by way of grassroots workshops and leadership training. By implementing community-based workshops on topics such as employment rights and feminist theory, Filipino Transnational communities, from the East Coast towers of the Toronto Metropolis to the multicultural populace of Los Angeles, the shift from permanent nomads to grounded, uncompromising leaders is a cultural revolution. The schooling of Transnational women is an economic enterprise not only for the independence of women, but for the advancement and overall well-being of society as a whole; one simply cannot do without the other.
You know, like chemistry.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Girls Transform the World 2013.