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Lifelong learning at the borders : transnational learning experiences of migrant workers in Korea Lee, Romee

Abstract

This study explores the learning experiences of migrant workers in Korea and contributes to an expanded understanding of the notion of lifelong learning as it relates to transnational adult learners. The study revolves around 2 key research questions: What characterizes the learning experiences of these workers and how do their multiple identities--citizenship, class, race/ethnicity, and gender--impact their learning experience? Field research was conducted over a 1 year period and involved direct interviews with 30 participants--19 migrant workers and 11 learning providers. The researcher gathered participants via snowball sampling and conducted interviews in a semi-structured, open-ended format. By shedding light on the group’s learning experiences, this paper seeks to move beyond previous research that only treats migrant workers’ marginalized existence. It spotlights both the importance of the lifelong learning paradigm to migrant workers and the paradigm’s waning relevance in its present form. Utilizing critical and feminist theories of adult learning, the study shows that migrant workers in general are disenfranchised by systemic forces in the global context and that this area is ripe for further critical study by adult educators. The paper concludes that migratory identities negatively impact lifelong learning experiences for migrant workers in Korea. It is clear that the nation-centric notion of citizenship, and the lifelong learning paradigm as currently constructed, constrain the meaningful participation of migrant workers in learning experiences. Recognizing this, the researcher recommends a more transformative view of membership be adopted and that adult educators transform the current understanding of the lifelong learning paradigm into a more inclusive model that covers the increasing numbers of transnational spaces in which learning occurs.

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