Report by Denise Yeo (AUT Coms)
New Zealand migrant youth of different ethnic backgrounds shared openly about the profound effects of migration on their relationship with their parents at a research symposium held at AUT South Campus.
Being vegan in a Samoan family, not being able to speak Korean well, opposition against getting tattoos, and marriage choices, were just some of the conflicting issues panel members experienced within their families.
The forum, held in association with Shakti Youth was centred on intergenerational relations and tensions faced by migrant youth and their parents.
AUT Professor of Diversity and keynote speaker Edwina Pio explained that intergenerational conflicts between migrant families arise because of the different rates of assimilation.
“Youths tend to assimilate faster and their parents feel like they’re left behind and their children are leaving their ethnic culture behind,” she says.
Having insight on his parents’ perspectives and experiences was pivotal for panel member Junior Laulala to achieving common ground between him and his parents. He says the key is to have empathy.
“The issues don’t get resolved overnight - you must have patience and persistence,” he says.
“Forgive and accept the differences. Be understanding of the steep learning curve in a new culture, and approach conversations with love.”
Professor Pio also encouraged parents to seek mutual understanding with their children, by considering the bigger picture.
“Have compassion. Think about how you can nurture success in your children,” she says.
Shakti Youth coordinator Mengzhu Fu thanked AUT for hosting open conversations around intergenerational tensions faced by migrant youth.
“Many migrant youths grow up negotiating between two worlds and find it difficult to achieve balance,” she says.
“The pressures and expectations placed on them can cause negative effects on mental health - that’s why we need to have a space for these conversations.”
AUT South Campus Executive Director Richard Hall says the event was significant to the campus because of its diverse population. “We are the most diverse campus at AUT – many of our students are migrants,” he says.
“It is imperative that we understand the issues that impact our students.”