Reflections on Migration, Resilience, and Graduate Education
Supporting Female Students with Refugee Backgrounds
Keywords:female students with refugee backgrounds, access to higher education, social justice mentoring, inclusive scholarly communities
In response to the refugee crisis, it is important to invest in and support refugee education especially at the tertiary level. As displaced individuals rebuild their life upon resettlement, education opportunities are vital to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to gain meaningful employment, especially since displacement often puts refugee’s education and careers on hold. Displaced girls and women, who might be unaccompanied, pregnant, or disabled, are especially vulnerable in the process of forced migration, education, and resettlement. In this chapter, we explore our personal and pedagogical narratives of migration and resilience as they relate to learning, teaching and mentoring in graduate education. Consistent with the principles of reflexive ethnography and cultural humility, we examine our experiences, beliefs, and cultural identities using semi-structured reflective processes to share and deconstruct our individual and familial experiences as displaced persons, graduate students, instructors, and mentors in the era of heightened economic and political uncertainty, global environmental crises, and the worldwide forced displacement of people. We highlight the importance of honouring the strengths and capacities of female graduate students with refugee backgrounds while creating safe spaces for listening to the women’s learning needs and desires. Finally, we discuss our engagements in labour intensive and time consuming mentorship that afforded academic coaching, skill training, and professional capacity building while supporting women’s sense of agency and socialization into academia and Canada.
Justice Lens to Youth Mentoring: A Review of the Literature and Recommendations for Practice.” American Journal of Community Psychology 59(3-4): 363–381. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12143
Althuwaimer Alrashidi, Khadija Mutlag. 2017. “State of Women in Academia: Extent of
Supportive Environment for Female Researchers.” Journal of Educational and Social
Research 7(1): 13-17.
Anderson, Amy J., Bernadette Sánchez, Graig Meyer, and Brian P. Sales. 2018. “Supporting
Adults to Support Youth: An Evaluation of Two Social Justice Trainings.” Journal of Community Psychology 46(8): 1092–1106. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22093
Baum, Sandy, Jennifer Ma, and Kathleen Payea. 2013. Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of
Higher Education for Individuals and Society. New York, NY: The College Board.
Beech, Bettina M., Jorge Calles-Escandon, Kristen G. Hairston, Sarah E. Langdon, Brenda A.
Latham-Sadler, and Ronny Bell. 2013. “Mentoring Programs for Underrepresented Minority Faculty in Academic Medical Centers: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 88(4): 541–549. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828589e3
Bell, Amani, and Lorri J. Santamaría. 2018. Understanding Experiences of First Generation
University Students Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Methodologies. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic.
Calabrese, Darren, and Zoledziowski, Anya. 2018. “Lack of Faculty Diversity Can Affect
Studies and Career Aspirations. Globe and Mail, October 18, 2018. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/canadian-university-report/lack-of-faculty-diversity-can-affect-studies-and-career-aspirations/article36637410
Canadian Association of University Teachers. 2018. “Underrepresented and Underpaid:
Diversity & Equity Among Canada's Post-secondary Education Teachers.” https://www.caut.ca/sites/default/files/caut_equity_report_2018-04final.pdf
Chan, Anne. 2018. “Trust-Building in the Mentoring of Students of Color.” Mentoring &
Tutoring: Partnership in Learning 26(1): 4–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/ 13611267.2017.1416265
Childs, Joshua, and Sarah Johnson. 2018. “When They Go Low, We Go High: Scholars of Color,
Activism, and Educational Research in a Post-truth Era.” Education Policy Analysis
Archives 26(146): 1-15. doi:10.14507/epaa.26.3342
Coburn, Veldon. 2018. “Why There Are so Few Indigenous Graduates at Convocation.”
National Post, June 1, 2018. https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/why-there-are-so-few-indigenous-graduates-at-convocation
Colakoglu, Saba, Dilek G. Yunlu, and Gamze Arman. 2018. "High-skilled Female Immigrants:
Career Strategies and Experiences." Journal of Global Mobility 6(3/4): 58-284. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-10-2017-0039
Enfield, Mark, and Bird Stasz. 2011. “Presence Without Being Present: Reflection and Action in
A Community of Practice.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 11(1): 108 –118.
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. 2019. Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds
Into Schools in Europe: National Policies and Measures. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Fedynich, LaVonne, Steve F. Bain, and Maria Emilia Martinez. 2016. “Faculty Perspectives on
Graduate Student Success.” International Journal of Organizational Behavior in Education 4(1): 147-159.
Fisher-Borne, Marcie, Jessie Montana Cain, and Suzanne L. Martin. 2015. “From Mastery to
Accountability: Cultural Humility as an Alternative to Cultural Competence.” Social Work Education 34(2): 165-181. 10.1080/02615479.2014.977244
Forced Migration Research Network. 2017. THE WORLD’S BIGGEST MINORITY? Refugee
Women and Girls in the Global Compact on Refugees. University of New South Wales, Australia. http://www.unhcr.org/59e5bcb77.pdf
Foucault, Michel. 2003. Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1975-76.
New York, NY: Picador.
Fritsch, Nina-Sophie. 2015. “At the Leading Edge – Does Gender still Matter? A Qualitative
Study of Prevailing Obstacles and Successful Coping Strategies in Academia.” Current
Sociology 63(4): 547–565. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392115576527
Goodman, Rachel D. 2013. “The Transgenerational Trauma and Resilience Genogram.”
Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 26(3/4): 386-405. doi:10.1080/09515070.2013.820172
Honneth, Axel. 1995. The Struggle for Recognition: The Grammar of Social Conflicts.
Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Hopper, Elizabeth. K., Bassuk, Ellen L., and Jeffrey Olivet. 2019. “Shelter from the Storm:
Trauma-informed Care in Homeless Service Settings.” The Open Health Services and Policy Journal 2, 131-151.
Leathwood, Carole, and Barbara Read. 2009. Gender and the Changing Face of Higher
Education: A Feminized Future? Maidenhead, England: Society for Research into Higher Education/Open University Press.
McLaughlin, Catherine. 2010. “Mentoring: What Is It? How Do We Do It and How Do We Get
More of It?” Health Services Research 45(3): 871–884. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-
Naidoo, Loshini, Jane Wilkinson, Misty Adoniou, and Kiprono Langat. 2018. Refugee
Background Students Transitioning into Higher Education: Navigating Complex Spaces.
Obradović-Ratković, Snežana, Vera E. Woloshyn, Kari-Lyn Winters, Neelofar Ahmed, Christos
Govaris, Stavroula Kaldi, Christiana Deliewen Afrikaner, and Feyza Doyran (in press). “Educating Refugee Students: Global Perspectives and Priorities.” In Education Beyond the Crisis: New Skills, Children's Rights, and Teaching Contexts, edited by Daniela-Roxana Andron and Victoria Gabriela Gruber. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.
Protivnak, Jake J., and Louisa L. Foss. 2009. “An Exploration of Themes that Influence
Counselor Education Doctoral Student Experience.” Counselor Education & Supervision 48(4): 239-256. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6978.2009.tb00078.x
Ramazanoglu, Caroline, and Holland, Janet (2009). Feminist Methodology: Challenges and
Choices. London, UK: Sage.
Ramsay, Georgina, and Sally Baker. 2019. “Higher Education and Students from Refugee
Backgrounds: A Meta-Scoping Study.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 38: 55–82. doi:10.1093/rsq/hdy018
Ratković, Snežana. 2013. “The Location of Refugee Female Teachers in the Canadian Context: ‘Not just a Refugee Woman!’” Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees 29(1): 103-114.
Ratković, Snežana. 2011. “Transitions from Exile to Academia: Stories of Refugee Women Teachers from the Former Yugoslavia.” Power and Education 3(3): 196-209.
Ratković, Snežana, and Vera Woloshyn. 2017. “Doctoral Education for a Sustainable Future:
What’s a Comprehensive Portfolio Got to Do with It?” Croatian Journal of Education 19(3):
Richards, Merle, Anne Elliott, Vera Woloshyn, and Coral Mitchell (Eds.). 2001. Collaboration
Uncovered: The Forgotten, the Assumed and the Unexamined. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Rogers-Sirin, Lauren, Patrice Ryce, and Selcuk R. Sirin 2014. “Acculturation, Acculturative
Stress, and Cultural Mismatch and Their Influences on Immigrant Children and Adolescents' Well-Being.” In Global Perspectives on Well-being in Immigrant Families (Advances in Immigrant Family Research), edited by Radosveta Dimitrova, Michael Bender and Fons J. R. van de Vijver, 11-30. New York, NY: Springer.
Rose, Marilyn. 2013. Graduate Student Professional Development: A Survey with
Recommendations. Research Report. Ottawa, ON: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Shapiro, Shawna, and Michael T. MacDonald. 2017. “From Deficit to Asset: Locating
Discursive Resistance in a Refugee-Background Student’s Written and Oral Narrative.” Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 16(2): 80-93. doi:10.1080/15348458.2016.1277725
Slaven, Gordon. 2018. Higher Education and Displaced People: A Guide for UK Universities.
London, UK: Universities UK International. https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Pages/higher-education-and-displaced-people-a-guide-for-UK-universities.aspx
Spark, Ceridwen, Anne Harris, and Mimmie Claudim Ngum Chi. 2013."The Barriers that Only
You Can See”: African Australian Women Thriving in Tertiary Education Despite the
Odds.” Generos: Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies 2(2): 182-202.
Statistics Canada. 2017. Education in Canada: Key Results from the 2016 Census.
Stewart, Jan. 2012. “Transforming Schools and Strengthening Leadership to Support the
Educational and Psychosocial Needs of War-Affected Children Living in Canada.” Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 6(3): 172-189. doi:10.1080/15595692.2012.691136
Taskforce on Anti-Racism at Ryerson. 2010. Report of the Taskforce on Anti-Racism at Ryerson.
Toronto, ON: Ryerson University. https://www.ryerson.ca/antiracismtaskforce/docs/RU_ Taskforce_report.pdf
Teeuwsen, Phili., Snezana Ratković, and Susan Tilley. 2012. “Becoming Academics:
Experiencing Legitimate Peripheral Participation in Part-Time Doctoral Studies. Studies in
Higher Education 37(8): 1-15.
Tervalon, Melanie, and Jann Murray-Garcia. 1998. “Cultural Humility versus Cultural
Competence: A Critical Distinction in Defining Physician Training Outcomes in Multicultural Education.” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 9(2):117-125. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2010.0233
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee. 2019a. “Global Trends: Forced Displacement
in 2018.” The UN Refugee Agency. https://www.unhcr.org/5d08d7ee7.pdf
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2019b. “Stepping Up: Refugee Education in a
Crisis.” The UN Refugee Agency. https://www.unhcr.org/steppingup/
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee. 2018. “Global Trends: Forced displacement in
2017.” The UN Refugee Agency. https://www.unhcr.org/5b27be547.pdf
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee. 2020a. “Figures at a Glance. Statistical Yearbooks.” The UN Refugee Agency. https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee. 2020b. “Women.” The UN Refugee Agency.
Usher, Alex. 2018. The State of Post-Secondary Education in Canada, 2018. Toronto, ON:
Higher Education Strategy Associates. http://higheredstrategy.com/the-state-of-canadian-pse-2018/
World University Service of Canada. 2018. “Supporting Girls’ Education in Crisis on World
Refugee Day.” Success Stories (blog). June 20, 2018. https://wusc.ca/supporting-girls-education-in-crisis-on-world-refugee-day/
World University Service of Canada. 2016. “The Canadian Post-Secondary Education
Community’s Response to the Refugee Crisis.” Research and Publications (blog). November 7, 2016. https://wusc.ca/the-canadian-post-secondary-education-communitys-response-to-the-refugee-crisis/
World University Service of Canada. 2018. “WUSC Welcomes 40th Cohort through Its Student
Refugee Program.” Success Stories (blog). August 29, 2018. https://wusc.ca/wusc-welcomes-40th-cohort-through-its-student-refugee-program/2019-Final-web-3.pdf
Wong, Andrew Hon Cheung, and Sophie Yohani. 2013. “An Exploratory Study of Resilience in
Refugee Post-Secondary Student.” Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy 50(3): 175-192.
Woloshyn, Vera E., Michael Savage, Snežana Ratković, Catherine Hands, and Dragana
Martinovic, 2019. “Exploring Professors’ Experiences Supporting Graduate Student Well-Being in Faculties of Education.” International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education 8(4): 397-411. doi: (10.1108/IJMCE-02-2019-0028)
Wilkinson, Jane, Ninetta Santoro, and Jae Major. 2017. “Sudanese Refugee Youth and
Educational Success: The Role of Church and Youth Group in Supporting Cultural and Academic Adjustment and Schooling Achievement.” International Journal of Intercultural Relation 60: 210–219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2017.04.003
Zoledziowski, Anya. 2018. “The Extra Load that Professors of Colour Have to Bear.” Globe and
Mail, June 3, 2018. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-the-extra-load-that-professors-of-colour-have-to-bear/
How to Cite
The findings, interpretations, conclusions, and views expressed in Journal of Comparative and International Higher Education (JCIHE) are entirely those of the authors and should not be attributed in any manner to CIES, HESIG, or the sponsoring universities of the Editorial Staff. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License. Readers are free to copy, display, and distribute articles that appear in JCIHE as long as the work is attributed to the author(s) and JCIHE, it is distributed for non-commercial purposes only, and no alteration or transformation is made in the work. All other uses must be approved by the author(s) or JCIHE. By submitting a manuscript, authors agree to transfer without charge the following rights to JCIHE upon acceptance of the manuscript: first worldwide serial publication rights and the right for JCIHE to grant permissions as its editors judge appropriate for the redistribution of the article, its abstract, and metadata associated with the article in professional indexing and reference services.