‘It depends on us’: The experiences of fifteen young Burmese migrants living in the border town of Mae Sot, Thailand
The Burmese diaspora in Thailand attracts significant academic attention. However, the voices of migrant Burmese children are largely unexplored and often ignored altogether. On arriving in Thailand young migrants find themselves located within a new cultural, social, and linguistically different geographic space. Underpinned by the recognition that migrant youth actively engage with the world around them, this study challenges the idea that young migrants are passive bearers of circumstance. Rather, as they seek education in Thailand they exercise their agency in unique ways by performing their cultural traditions, creating their ‘own place’, navigating opportunities, voicing critical political opinions, displaying resilience and setting future goals. Using the participatory method of ‘photo-voice’ this research explores the everyday experiences and stories of fifteen Burmese migrant children living in Thailand as they present them through photography. The participants, most of whom crossed the border unaccompanied, have assessed the relative opportunities available to them in Burma and Thailand. They have chosen to endure the hardships associated with living in a marginalised space away from their parents, culture and country in order to gain an education in Thailand. Technically considered ‘illegal’, these young migrants are facing their present challenges, setting life goals and bending the rules in order to receive an education and establish successful futures.