Literacy Practices of Working-Class New Chinese Immigrant Families

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Literacy Practices of Working-Class New Chinese Immigrant Families
Hsieh, Ivy
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 online resource (259 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Curriculum and Instruction (ISC)
Teaching and Learning
Committee Chair:
Fu, Danling
Committee Members:
Lamme, Linda L.
Fang, Zhihui
Koro-Ljungberg, Mirka E.
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Child psychology ( jstor )
Children ( jstor )
Chinese culture ( jstor )
Family members ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Literacy ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Restaurants ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Social interaction ( jstor )
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
chinese, class, constructionism, ethnography, family, immigrant, interactional, literacy, longitudinal, model, practices, qualitative, working, zoom
City of Gainesville ( local )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Curriculum and Instruction (ISC) thesis, Ph.D.


With the ever-increasing number of immigrant children, and children of immigrant parentage, studies are needed that shed light on the impact on education of the structure and culture of immigrant families. The new immigrants of ethnic minorities are often isolated from mainstream society. Stereotypically seen as a ?model minority,? working-class Chinese immigrants who had not achieved a high level of education before immigrating to the United States, and who now live in a highly literate rural university town are not only isolated from mainstream American society but are also separated from their own ethnic group in the community. This qualitative study inquires into literacy practices of working-class new Chinese immigrant families in a rural university town. Data collected from two years of interactions with members of two restaurant families were analyzed using narrative analysis to focus on the stories of the families. A zoom model approach was used to systematically organize and analyze data into four levels: The macro-level focused on the socio-cultural dimensions of the stories; the meso-level looked at the individual process of the stories; the micro-level examined the emotional dimension in the oral stories; and the interactional-level asks the researcher to check in on her own place in the whole process of the study. Using a constructionist epistemology with an interactional ethnographic perspective, literacy practices were seen as an interactive tool that all members of the families used in order to navigate through the social world, construct meaning, display identity, and accomplish social goals. The findings illustrate the various literacy practices of these families and provide examples that show the culture of the families shaped from their immigrant experiences. Implications can be drawn by pre-service and practicing teachers to further understand the family literacy practices of diverse groups and can help them develop curricula that include children from different cultures and families. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Adviser: Fu, Danling.
Electronic Access:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Ivy Hsieh.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Hsieh, Ivy. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2008 Ivy Haoyin Hsieh 2


To all immigrant families who work hard and are t ough in all fields to make a better future for the world. 3


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This dissertation could not have been comple ted without the restaurant family that I interacted with for more than two years. They had reasons to be suspic ious of me but they opened their lives to me and treated me with warm hearts. They not only served as my participants but became my other family in the U.S. I could go to their restaurant for a hotpot party on Chinese New Years Eve and get fed wh en I was too tired to cook. I saw how hard Chinese immigrants worked in this new land for a better life and hope I can be as tough as they are. I am indebted to my doctoral committee for their never-ending advice and support both academically and personally in all these year s. Dr. Mirka Koro-Ljungberg opened an amazing door for me to enter a qualit ative wonderland where I had the chance to be enlightened by various discussions of different philosophical pe rspectives. Her warm hugs encouraged me and her positive attitude influenced my beliefs of being a qualitative researcher. Dr. Linda Lamme took me to the world of childre ns literature. Her passions and knowledge of childrens literature inspired my interest in teaching and learning mu lticultural childrens lite rature. Dr. Zhihui Fang always believed in me and cheered me with hi s smiles. I would like to thank them for never lowering their standards for me being a non-native English speaker and at the same time giving me extra care and help. Great thanks go to my committee chair Dr. Da nling Fu, who has become my advisor, my life-time mentor, and my parent in the US. I thank her for never clos ing her door to me and always being patient with my endless questions. She has been understanding and provided me with valuable advice to help me accomplish my goals in academia. She pushed me when I hesitated to move forward and motivated me when I lost my energy in fighting with challenges. She challenged my ideas, gave feedback, guided me to dig deeper, and assisted me to integrate 4


theories with practices in my writing. She also included me into her family so I have this privilege to share love from her family members, Xiaodi and Bill, as well. I am so grateful to have her as my mentor. This impossible mission could not be finish ed without the study group members that accompanied me through the entire journey: Nancy Shelton, Jennifer Gra ff, Kate Kiss, Takako Ueno, Jennifer Sanders, Xenia Hadjioannou, and Ji raporn Daragattigonnon. Because of this group, I have had the chance to practice being a so cial constructionist by interacting within the group and to make sense of meaning together. Sp ecial thanks go to Kate Kiss, Nancy Shelton and Jennifer Graff. Without Kates intensive editing and suggestions about structure in the final stage of my writing, I would not have kept faith in finishing up. Nanc y and Jenn have become my best friends, my cheerleaders and my peer me ntors. They listened to my ideas, brainstormed with me, encouraged me even when they were geographically distanced from me. I could not have completed this journey alone without their endless backing as colleagues, as friends, and more like my sisters. My best friends in Taiwan, Peihuang Chen, Yachi Li, Hsinching Li, and Itan Mao, kept sending their support to me across the Pacific Ocean with their faith in me. They supported me throughout my journey of getting my writing done. Thanks also go to Judith Cheng, the only Taiwanese peer who came to UF and finished he r degree with me almost at the same time. Although in different academic fields, we accompan ied each other at the last and the most difficult stage of completing the Ph.D. degree when all other comrades had completed theirs and left us. We shared the frustrations and ch eered each other up to ac hieve our final goals. Mingyuan Huang deserves my gratitude for keeping awake to make sure I could go home safely after midnight from office during my crazy writing stage. 5


I owe my greatest thanks to my family. I appr eciate their ever-lasting encouragement, their mental and financial support. My parent s, Jiannshing Hsieh and Meihua Fang, even though they wanted me to finish my degree fast, did not dare to put any pressure on me. They struggled with missing and worrying about me from half a world away but always kept their faith in me and never stopped upholding me in pursuing my dream. My brother, Haowei Hsieh has served as my personal advisor in helping me cl arify all the difficulties in purs uing a Ph.D. degree. His family, my two nieces and my sister-in-law, also serv ed as my mental back-ups. My cousin Yvonne Fang, whom I see as my real sister, opened her ears for me all the time when I needed someone to talk to, gave me a shoulder to cry on when I misplaced my faith or got depressed, and she never turned her back to me. I would also dedicate this dissertation in memo ry of my aunt, Huiju Hsieh (1945-2008), who could not wait to see me complete the degree I will follow her steps to be a good teacher. I also hope I will not disappoint her expectation for me to be able to honor our family as a female member. Without all the support from these whom I love, without the faith from those who love me, I could not have completed this long journey and would not be a strong person as I am today. For the love, faith and belief, I am grateful. 6


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ........12 LIST OF FIGURES.......................................................................................................................13 ABSTRACT...................................................................................................................................14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................. .16 Statement of the Problem....................................................................................................... .16 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................... ....20 Significance of the Study........................................................................................................21 Definition of Terms................................................................................................................22 Family Literacy Practices................................................................................................22 Working-Class New Immigrants.....................................................................................23 2 CONCEPTUZATION OF THE STUDY...............................................................................25 New Chinese Immigrants in the United States.......................................................................25 Chinese Immigrants in American History.......................................................................26 Characteristics of New Chinese Immigrants...................................................................28 Literacy Practices....................................................................................................................29 Literacy as Universa l Psychological Skills.....................................................................30 Literacy as Sociocultural Practices..................................................................................31 Connections between Literacy and Families, Communities, and Social Worlds............35 English Language Learners....................................................................................................37 First (L1) and Second Language (L2) Acquisition..........................................................37 Learning a Second Language..........................................................................................39 Cultural Factors in Learning a Language........................................................................40 ELL Teaching and Learning............................................................................................42 Immigrant Family Literacy Practices.....................................................................................45 Ethnographic Studies of Family Literacy........................................................................46 Social Environment and Literacy....................................................................................48 Recapitulation.........................................................................................................................49 3 METHODOLOGY.................................................................................................................5 0 Constructionism: The Epistemology......................................................................................51 Theoretical Perspective: Interactional Ethnography...............................................................52 Settings of the Study...............................................................................................................54 7


Selection of Settings and Participants.............................................................................54 The Family..................................................................................................................... ..55 The Pilot Study.......................................................................................................................56 Data Sources...........................................................................................................................59 Data Collection for the Dissertation Study.............................................................................60 Participant-Observation Field Notes...............................................................................63 Semi-Structured Interviews.............................................................................................64 Informal Conversations and Reflective Journal..............................................................65 Archive Collection...........................................................................................................66 Narratives as Cultural Representation of Self........................................................................67 Data Analysis of the Narratives: The Zoom Model Approach...............................................69 The Zoom Model Approach............................................................................................70 Phase I: The Macro-Zoom Analysis................................................................................73 Phase II: The Meso and Micro-Zoom Analysis..............................................................73 Phase III: Interactional-Zoom Analysis...........................................................................74 Validation...............................................................................................................................75 Subjectivity................................................................................................................... ..........77 Chinese-Cultural-Rooted Taiwanese...............................................................................77 Middle-Class Mainstreamer (Townsperson)...................................................................78 American Experiences.....................................................................................................80 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........81 Interpretive Limitations: The Self and the Other.....................................................82 Methodological Limitations............................................................................................83 Preview of the Discussions.....................................................................................................84 4 THE CONTEXT: BAC KGROUND OF THE RESTAURANT FAMILY............................85 The Family: the Past and the Present......................................................................................85 Follow the Trend to Move from China to the United States...........................................86 From a Fishing Village in China to a University Town in the US..................................87 The Restaurant Community.............................................................................................89 The Restaurant........................................................................................................................92 The Restaurant in a University Town..............................................................................92 The Restaurant as the Center of the Family....................................................................93 The Core Family: The Owners and the House.......................................................................93 The Chen Family.............................................................................................................94 John (Maoping) Chen, the laoban (Mr. boss)...........................................................94 Jane (Biqiu) Zhao, Mrs. Chen, the laoban niang (Mrs. Boss................................95 Sam (Chong) Chen...................................................................................................97 Tim (Ting) Chen.......................................................................................................98 The House........................................................................................................................99 The Community: The Workers and the Dormitory..............................................................102 The Wang Family..........................................................................................................102 Zhiyong Wang and Biqin Zhao (Mrs. Wang)........................................................103 Xiao Wang..............................................................................................................104 The Others..................................................................................................................... 105 8


Ken (Zhonghe) Zhao and Sue (Xiujuan) Lin.........................................................105 Sen Wang...............................................................................................................106 The Dormitory...............................................................................................................107 Summary...............................................................................................................................109 5 DOMINANT DISCOURSE AND NARRATIVE FORM...................................................111 Cultural Discourse: The Immigration...................................................................................112 Separation and Isolation................................................................................................112 New Structure................................................................................................................117 Immigrant Lives............................................................................................................121 The restaurant community......................................................................................122 Satellite Chinatown................................................................................................123 Cultural mediators..................................................................................................125 Recourses and connections.....................................................................................129 Socio-cultural Structure of Family Life History...........................................................131 Narrative Form: The Cultural Archetypes............................................................................132 Hierarchical Structure....................................................................................................133 Relationship in work situations..............................................................................134 Parents and children...............................................................................................134 Husbands and wives...............................................................................................136 Conflicts and change of relationships between the seniors and juniors (or siblings)...............................................................................................................138 Family Values................................................................................................................140 Education Expectations.................................................................................................143 Educational background of the family members....................................................143 Attitudes and expectation towards education.........................................................146 Summary...............................................................................................................................149 6 STYLES OF NARRATIONS AND NARRATIVE THEMES............................................151 Styles of Narration................................................................................................................151 Oral Styles between Parents and Children....................................................................151 Situated Language Use According to Context, Themes and Cultural Roles.................155 Functional Literacy in Daily Life..................................................................................158 Reading and writing at work..................................................................................158 Reading habits........................................................................................................159 Reading and writing on the computer....................................................................159 Oral versus written literacy....................................................................................160 The childrens school-based literacy......................................................................160 Narrative Themes in the Families Life Stories.....................................................................163 The New Immigrant Families........................................................................................163 Becoming Chinese Americans...............................................................................164 The Chinese immigrants.........................................................................................166 Children Between Two Worlds: Three Individual Life Stories....................................167 9


Sam: A responsible elder brot her pushed to grow up fast......................................168 Tims world: A baby in the family.........................................................................179 Xiaos silent world.................................................................................................185 The 1.5 generation: In between two worlds...........................................................187 Summary...............................................................................................................................188 7 EMOTIONS WITHIN FAMILY MEMBERS NARRATIVES.........................................189 Childrens Narratives within Emotions................................................................................189 Tim Was Confused and Unhappy..................................................................................190 Sam Felt Things Were Unfair........................................................................................192 Chen Parents Narratives within Emotions...........................................................................194 Feeling Tired and Complex...........................................................................................194 Feeling Obligated and No Return..............................................................................196 Summary...............................................................................................................................198 8 TRANSACTIONS AND REACTIONS OF AN INTERACTIONAL ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCHER....................................................................................199 Transactions..........................................................................................................................199 Re-Thinking of Definition.............................................................................................200 Help .....................................................................................................................201 Low-literate............................................................................................................202 Cultural Resistance........................................................................................................204 Expectations of the parents....................................................................................204 Expectations towards children...............................................................................206 Reactions...................................................................................................................... .........209 Reacting with Empathy.................................................................................................209 React with Anger...........................................................................................................211 Reactions of Confusions................................................................................................213 Final Notes of Reflection: Stories and Lives Go On............................................................213 9 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS...........................................................................216 Conclusions...........................................................................................................................216 Multi-Literacies.............................................................................................................21 6 The Complexity of the Family Culture.........................................................................218 Implications................................................................................................................... .......220 Some Ideas for Teachers...............................................................................................221 What do we learn from the children and the families?...........................................221 How can what we have learned from them help us teach the children better?......222 Future Directions...........................................................................................................223 Two Final Thoughts..............................................................................................................224 Teaching Students from Divers e Socio-Cultural Backgrounds.....................................224 Rethinking Funds of Knowledge...................................................................................226 10


APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT LETTERS AND ASSENT SCRIPT............................................228 Informed Consent (for parents)............................................................................................228 Assent Script.........................................................................................................................229 Informed Consent (for teachers)...........................................................................................230 B ORAL SURVEYS................................................................................................................2 31 C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.................................................................................................232 Interview Questions for Parents............................................................................................232 Interview Questions for Children.........................................................................................233 Interview Questions for Teachers.........................................................................................234 D LIST OF INTERVIEW AND IN FORMAL CONVERSATION DATA.............................235 Interview Data List...............................................................................................................235 Index of Informal Conversations..........................................................................................236 E RECORD OF PHONE CONVERSATION..........................................................................241 F INDEX OF INSTANT MESSANGER CONVERSATION................................................245 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................247 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................259 11


LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1. The extended restaurant family......................................................................................56 3-2. Data sources.......................................................................................................................60 3-3. Data collection process.................................................................................................. ....62 3-4. The Zo om Model........................................................................................................... ....70 3-5. Data analysis phases..........................................................................................................71 4-1. The Chen family.......................................................................................................... ......94 4-2. The Wang family.......................................................................................................... ...103 4-3. The other family members...............................................................................................10 5 5-1. Chen familys daily schedule...........................................................................................118 5-2. Wang familys daily schedule..........................................................................................119 5-3. Restaurant schedule.........................................................................................................122 5-4. Position chart of the family............................................................................................. .139 5-5. Education and language backgrounds of the family members........................................145 6-1. The childrens worlds.................................................................................................... ..188 D-1. Interview data list.............................................................................................................235 D-2. Index of informal conversation........................................................................................236 E-1. Record of phone conversation.........................................................................................241 F-1. Summary of instant messenger conversation...................................................................245 12


LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1. The relationship between one and the social worlds.........................................................32 3-1. Graphic of zoom model approach......................................................................................72 4-1. Timeline of the family memb ers arrivals and departures.................................................88 4-2. Family tree.........................................................................................................................91 4-3. The Chens house......................................................................................................... ....101 4-4. The dormitory.......................................................................................................... .....108 5-1. Separation of the Chen family.........................................................................................114 5-2. Separation of Wang family..............................................................................................11 5 5-3. The social cultural structure of family life history...........................................................130 6-1. Sams virtual social community.......................................................................................177 13


Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy LITERACY PRACTICES OF WORKING-CLA SS NEW CHINESE IMMIGRANT FAMILIES By Ivy Haoyin Hsieh August 2008 Chair: Danling Fu Major: Curriculum and Instruction With the ever-increasing number of immi grant children, and children of immigrant parentage, studies are needed that shed light on the impact on education of the structure and culture of immigrant families. The new immigrants of ethnic minorities are often isolated from mainstream society. Stereotypically seen as a model minority, working-class Chinese immigrants who had not achieved a high level of education before immigrating to the United States, and who now live in a highly literate rural uni versity town are not only isolated from mainstream American society but are also separated from their own ethnic group in the community. This qualitative study inquires into literacy practices of working-class new Chinese immigrant families in a rural university town. Data collected from two years of interacti ons with members of two restaurant families were analyzed using narrative analysis to focus on the stories of the families. A zoom model approach was used to systematically organize an d analyze data into four levels: The macro-level focused on the socio-cultural dimensions of the stories; the meso-level looked at the individual process of the stories; the micro-level examined the emotional dimension in the oral stories; and the interactional-level asks the researcher to check in on her ow n place in the whole process of the study. 14


15 Using a constructionist epistemology with an interactional ethnogr aphic perspective, literacy practices were seen as an interactive tool that all members of the families used in order to navigate through the social world, construct meaning, display identity, and accomplish social goals. The findings illustrate the various liter acy practices of these families and provide examples that show the culture of the familie s shaped from their immigrant experiences. Implications can be drawn by pre-service and practicing teachers to furthe r understand the family literacy practices of diverse gr oups and can help them develop curricula that include children from different cultures and families.


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Immigrant populations in the United States have increased dramatically in the last few decades (Fu, 2007; Oropesa, 1997; Zhou, 1997). Acco rding to the 2000 US census, the foreignborn population has increased to 10 percent of the total population between 1970 and 2000, and the Asian population has grown from 9 to 25 pe rcent of the immigrant population. Due to the increasing numbers of immigran ts, immigrant issues have recei ved attention by the educators and the policy makers. This has led to studies have focused on the economic and cultural interactions of immigrant lives and American society. With this ever-increasing number of immigrant children, and children of immigrant pa rentage (Zhou, 1997), studies are needed that shed light on the impact on education of the structure and culture of immigrant families. The term paradigm refers to an interpretiv e framework that functions as a guide for the researcher to determine problems and to provide theories, explanations methods and techniques aimed at solving the problem (Denzin & Lincol n, 2000; Guba, 1990; Usher, 1996). Therefore, as Denzin and Lincoln (2000) note, each paradigm helps the resear cher form the questions and interpretations; in this sense, all research is gu ided by the way people interpret, believe, and feel about the world. Focusing on cultural behaviors in social contexts, intera ctional ethnogaphers see their research task as observing and interpreting how the participants in a certain cultural group construct the changing worlds arou nd them in various social setti ngs. In this research I take interactional ethnography as a framework to stud y the immigrant literacy culture of new Chinese immigrant families. Statement of the Problem Chinese Americans have been depicted as th e model minority since the 1960s. The media especially portrays Chinese Americans as problem -free individuals who are socially, financially 16


and academically successful. They are either nerds who live in the library, geeks in science and math, or the newcomers who started out w ith no money and now own a business (Wong & Halgin, 2006; Empleo, 2006). That ma y be true for some, but hardly all. Fu (2003) describes the way many Chinese immigrants have struggled in this country. Many of them have been smuggled into this country. Many have to work long hours with low wages. She also explains how they live and work in poor living conditions for years until they save enough money to obtain legal status and are able to get the rest of their family to the U.S. Stereotyped as a model minority (Xu, 1999; Li, 2004), the needs of many As ian immigrant students and their families have been neglected by research. The new immigrants of ethnic minorities are often isolated from mainstream society. In addition, working-class Chinese immigrants who had not achieved a high level of education before immigrating to the United States, and wh o now live in a highly lit erate rural university town are not only isolated from the mainstream American society but are also separated from their own ethnic group in the community. As a resu lt, a large gap exists and there is a lot of misunderstanding between these families and the schools their children attend. Most obvious are the cultural and language barriers, but even more problematic are so cial and educational differences. These families are truly living on the edge of society. The major focus of many immigrant studi es is on metropolitan areas where large immigrant populations can be found and more easily studied. However, more and more immigrant families are moving to rural areas due to the higher cost of living and competitive employment in big cities. Studies of these families are scarce. As the first social institution in which indi viduals start making sense of the world, the family is very important in the formation of childrens cultural identity and literacy practices. 17


Parents, as heads of the family, have a grea t influence on children when they start building concepts, knowledge and social skills, including their beliefs, values, attitudes, and ways of interacting. Parents also impact childrens language, identity, and literacy development. However, when children enter a secondary soci al institution, such as school, the culture that they bring from primary institutions (e.g., fa mily and community) needs to be adjusted to school expectations. Parents in a printed-dominat ed world are not only expected to engage in their childrens schooling by helping with homewor k, they are also expected to be involved in various school policy making activities. These exp ectations conflict with the cultural beliefs of most traditional Chinese: that parents should resp ect the teachers and not question or interfere with the teaching/learning pro cess or policy-making in school. Chinese parents who are socially, cultura lly, and educationally different from the mainstream literate society, and less familiar w ith the democratic tradition, may misunderstand the culture of the school. Especially for the ne w immigrant parents who ar e not highly educated even in their own language, the expectation of parental involvement by the school may appear foreign to them. English notes or newsletters se nt from school do not make sense to them and may make the parents feel embarrassed by thei r lack of understanding of school language and culture. Children from immigrant families who brought their own cultures to the U.S. need time and help to adapt to new concepts of schooling. Differences between school and family literacy practices create various barriers for these families when they actually need extra support from the school. Although a lot of studies suggest that the schoo l should attempt to a rrange meetings with parents to reach these immigr ant parents (Houk, 2005; Stewar t, 1993), communicative methods, transportation problems, language barriers, and cultural issues together and individually make 18


schools and teachers step back fr om providing assistance. This s uggests a need to study family literacy with a goal of eliminating barriers be tween schools and families, and of breaking walls that stand between schoo l personnel and parents. Several such studies about family literacy have already been done. Ta ylor (1983) examined different beliefs and literacy practices within different white middle-class families. Heath (1983) researched different uses of literacy in communities of working-class and middle class families in the southeast USA. Taylor and Dorsey-Gaine s (1988) studied the literacy practices of poor inner city families at home and in interactions with friends in their co mmunities. All of these studies provide excellent models for studying fam ily literacy. Related studies of families from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds also provide rich information on family literacy and a broader view of literacy and culture. Some of these studies descri bed how parents attitudes on education may have an impact on childrens literacy practices (Stevenson et al., 1999). Others studied how different communities, socioeconomic levels, and attitudes of parents may influence childrens literacy construction and sc hool performance (Fu, 1995, 2003; Li, 2002). Taylor and Dorsey-Gainess (1988) have the si gnificance on how literacy functioning in poverty, and that being literate does not equal being educated. Purcell-Gates (1995) in her book Other Peoples Words examines the cycle of low literacy an d shows that being in school does not guarantee becoming literate without the suppor t of ones family. Fus (2003) exploration of the experience of child immigrants in New York Citys Chinatown provi des information on the population of new Chinese immigrants and ESL l earning. Heaths (1983) research focuses on the literacy practices of working-class families in White and Black communities. These studies offer great background knowledge for this study and s how a new direction that focuses on the 19


connections between literacy, family, and cultu re in working-class, new Chinese immigrant family. Purpose of the Study As LeCompte and Presissle (1993) state, Statements of research purpose or goals delineate what is to be the overall, ultimate pr oduct of the research (T hey) should reflect the conceptual and theoretical frameworks that gu ide and inform the res earch process (p.37). Interactional ethnography follows the construc tionist epistemology to form and shape the research goals and purposes with a belief that know ledge is not constructed out of time and place, but has historical and cultural specificity; it is always connected with so cial actions and has a focus on interaction and process. It also stresses the reality of the chai ns of mutual knowledge and interdependence that cons titute them (Weber, 2001). Literacy is an interactive tool that all member s of a family use. Literacy interactions should include verbal and non-verbal communication and cultural values beliefs, and behaviors that parents pass to the children. The main focus of my study is the new culture that is created in a family out of the literacy practices in the cultural roots adde d to the new immigrant experiences. Influenced by Heath (1983), who was intere sted in studying the social communities in which children learned to act, believe, and value, I am interested in examining literacy culture in the family unit the primary social institution of children. In this study I aim to explore the various literacy practices that happen in an immigrant familys daily life, and how the immigrant experience shapes their literacy culture. With the following research questions, I will explore these practices of literacy by specifically examin ing the beliefs that the families have about literacy, and the ways the families function daily in different social situations as new immigrants in the United States: 20


1. What are the various literacy practices of the working-class new Chinese immigrant families? 2. What do the different literacy practices in immigrant culture mean for the members of the family unit? Significance of the Study A focus on literacy practices of families fr om a particular minority population with a specific geographic and cultural background can make this study a valuable contribution to the field of education. Educators will have a closer view of one group of people, the stereotyped model minority who are marginal ized in the society. The know ledge gained from this study will enable educators to counter stereotypes of any group of people and pay more attention to children from diverse backgrounds by appreciating their differences and va luing their individual experiences. Heath (1983) believes that th e timing, location, and particul ar interplay of people and historic and social conditions can make research a unique piece of social history. This study examines the formats of interact ions and literacy practices in low-literate, working-class new Chinese immigrant families in a rural college town in a southern state. At a sensitive moment after September 11, when American society has beco me suspicious of all immigrants, especially those from non-white ethnic groups, new im migrants have to face more complicated documentation issues to settle in this country and to integrate into its society. This can be especially difficult for children in schools. More information about how literacy is practiced in these families will shed light on an understand ing of a social group who are surviving on the margin of the American society. My study builds on Heaths (1983) and Dyson s (1993) research on language, life, and work in family, community, and school, which ex tends the social environment from family to community and connects family with school. W ith a specific focus on working-class new 21


Chinese immigrant family literacy practices, I hope my study can yie ld revision of school policy for more invitation and beneficial instructional spac e (Hinchman, 2005, p.104). By using a theoretical perspective of in teractional ethnography I also hope my study can be meaningful and can promote new ways of seeing and doing research (Dillon, 2005, p.109) that will help educators better understand and support children a nd their families who come to adopt this country as their home. Definition of Terms Family Literacy Practices From a socio-cultural perspective, literacy is not simply practiced by individuals but is constructed by members of groups as they engage in different literate practices for various functional, special purposes. In other words, how a relationship between the self and others is constructed plays a role in lite racy practices. One has to move in socio-cultural spaces and always have relationships with others in orde r to form his/her own identity in different relationships, to find his/her position among thes e social worlds, and to define situated meanings (Gee, 1996). According to Cook-Gumperz ( 1986), the integrations of talk, interaction, values and beliefs, are literacy practices The literacy practices of the ch ildren can be seen in how th ey interweave four cultural contexts family, community, school, and mainst ream society, and learn different discourses to function in these different worlds (Dys on, 1993, 1997; Freire & Macedo, 1987; Gee, 1996). Among the four social worlds, the family, as the pr imary social institution, has a very influential impact. Family literacy has long been an important t opic in the literacy field and has been studied under various terms. It has focused on home environments and services, parenting or parent education, emergent literacy, intergenerational lite racy, the program that connects literacy to 22


adult education, and system and policy impr ovement (Darling, 2004; Or ellana et al., 2003; Wasik, 2004). The perspective I take in this study however, is not program setting or individual development. Instead, I look at family literacy as a sociocultural phenomenon and view literacy as an interactive tool that all family members use to navigate in the social world, to construct meaning, to display identity, and to accomplish social as well as personal goals (Berger and Luckmann, 1967; Heath, 1983; Gee, 2001b; Rogers, 2002; Orellana et al., 2003; Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines, 1988). Rogers (2002) states that fa mily literacy is a set of processes that shape and are shaped by social institut ions (p.251); thus, studies of fam ily literacy practices cannot be described as just the relationship between family and literacy. They should also be connected to social debates on Discourses and issues that ar e culturally relevant to school, families, and communities. The focus of my study is on family literacy practices, which as Orellana, Reynolds, Dorner, and Meza (2003) define, is on pro cesses and practices as they are situated in meaningful activities, not on the cognitive capacit y that are required for those practices (p.16). Working-Class New Immigrants Working class is always associated with poor, low-waged, blue-collar, maybe even ethnic minority (Hicks, 2002). Heath (1983) desc ribes townspeople as those who are familiar with the mainstreamers norm that they fo llow certain ways in dr essing, entertaining themselves, decorating their homes, and decisi on-making in their job (p.236). They hold mainstream values for being successful in th e workplace mostly as businessmen, lawyers, politicians, doctors or teachers. The working-cl ass people, on the contrary, are those who tend to be laborers, have lower social economic stat us, and who do not practice behaviors that are the norm in the mainstream society. They also tend to have lower levels of education. 23


24 As Pieke (1991) states, the majority schoo ling is programmed for white, middle-class children (p.162). Social struct ure and social position thus influence educational behaviors. Stories in McIntyres (1997) Making Meaning of Whiteness Spradleys (1970) You Owe Yourself a Drunk or Kozols (1988) Rachel and Her Children revealed the helplessness and powerlessness of people who have to struggle to survive with le ss help from society. Multiple issues exist within these families between cultu res and identities, and between social/economic and literacy practices. The new immigrants, as per Zhous (1997) definition, are the first and second generation of immigrants. In this study, the first generation simply refers to those who voluntarily move to the US in their adulthood; while the second generation refers to US-born children or the children who have arrived in th e US before schooling. Adapting Zhous definition, I use the term .5-generation to refer to children who have arri ved in the US before adulthood, between the ages of 4 and 15.


CHAPTER 2 CONCEPTUZATION OF THE STUDY In this study I aim to examine literacy culture in new Chinese immigrant families. Therefore, the review of liter ature will start with an introduction to the background of this particular population, new Chin ese immigrants, by providing a historical review of Chinese immigrants in the United States. In the second section of the review I discuss the theory related to Literacy Practices: I will summarize previous studies of literacy as cognitive development and literacy as social and cultural practice before narrowing the review to connections between literacy and family, communities, and social worlds. In the third section I move from theory to practice and connect educational practices related to literacy with studies of ELL (English Language Learner) L1/L2 acquisition, learning a s econd language, cultural considerations for ELL students, and ELL teaching and learning. With this discussion, I intend to provide a background and theoretical grounding for my study. New Chinese Immigrants in the United States The United States has long been known as a c ountry composed of different ethnic and cultural groups. In some ways, all citizens in the United States are immigrants: Rong and Reissel (1998) define immigrant as an alien who has voluntarily moved from one society to another (p.3). The census from June 2004 shows that in 2004, every one out of nine residents in the United States was an immigrant (Morse, 2004). Ho wever, after Middle Eastern terrorists crashed hijacked American planes into the World Trad e Center and the Pentagon in September 2001, the ensuing anger and fear from Americans had become a challenge for new immigrants to face, especially those who ar e Asian or non-white. 25


Chinese Immigrants in American History The Chinese appeared in American history as early as the 18th century (Dictionary of American history, 1996; Yang, 2003), but it was not until 1848, when gold was discovered in California, that immigration r eally took off. A huge number of Chinese were attracted to emigrate to the U.S. to mine the Golden M ountain (Heller et al, 2000; Wepman, 2002; Yang, 2003). Chinese miners were abused in the mining camps, robbed, or murdered by their white neighbors and had no protection from any authority. In 1854, th e Supreme Court of California officially claimed that Chinese and all other people not whit e are included in the prohibition from being witness against white (Low, 1982). That was just the beginning of anti-Chinese actions in the United States. Powerful mainstre am whites next persuaded the government to pass a Foreign Miner Tax in 1855 that forced Chinese miners to pay a highly disproportionate share of state taxes (Banks, 1997; Low 1982; Wepman 2002). Furthermore, the California School Law was passed in 1860 to exclude particularly Chinese, as well as black and Indian children, from attending public schools (L ow 1982; Wepman, 2002). The Chinese received totally different treatment than other big immigrant groups who arrived at almost the same time in the United Stat es, such as the Irish and the Germans. The early Irish immigrants also struggled from poverty, wo rked low-level jobs, and were discriminated against because of their religion, and their experience was simila r to that of the Chinese laborers. The Irish, however, were later accepted by the Naturalization Act of 1870 because their skin color was similar to the dominant culture (L owery, 2000; Takaki, 1993). In the meantime, the unoffending Chinese suffered all they had suffere d. In addition, they were oppressed by the Irish working class people and roughed up in the stre et with no reasons (Wepman, 2002). The violent attacks were never stopped by police. Instead, th ey were encouraged by a paper presented to 26


Congress in 1876 that stated (t)he Chinese are in ferior to any race God ever made Chinese have no souls to save, even if they have, they are not worth sav[ing] (Wepman, 2002, p.141). Even though the Chinese laborers were trying to orga nize to ask for help from either their weak government back in China or from the chief of police, governor, and mayor in San Francisco, the situation in the anti-Chinese societies established by white labore rs had become unsolvable (Low, 1982). Things got worse as the number of Chines e immigrants doubled yearly from 1880 until it reached its peak in 1882. With both German and Chinese immigrants had reached their highest numbers when the Congress passed the Chinese Ex clusion Act in 1882. This first ever restrictive federal immigration law in Amer ica history was designed specifi cally to stop the increase of Chinese immigrants. With this law, the Chinese became the first ethnic group to be discriminated against by law in American immigrant history. The Exclusion Act totally humiliated the Chinese, as Yang (2003) described: the only people that [Americans] excl uded by law, at that time, were prostitutes, lepers, and morons, and in 1882 [the Americans] added Chinese to that list. Other groups struggled to attain respectability and were eventually fully accepte d as real Americans. Even the German immigrants, although they were treated extremely differently before and after World War I, finally earned th e highest reputation among all other immigrant groups (ConollySmith, 2004). The Exclusion Act was successful in decreasing the number of new Chinese immigrants. Moreover, as anti-Chinese sentiments increased, many of people returned to China. Both explicit and implicit factors reduced th e number of Chinese immigrants by half from 1890-1920 (Lowery, 2000). Chinatowns were created in big cities by th e Chinese to become a refugee, a shelter, a 27


base, and a haven for the Chinese people who decided to stay, to resist the Exclusion Act, and to get more adapted to American ways (Fu, 2003; Lowery, 2000). Characteristics of New Chinese Immigrants Chinese immigrants started to get fair atte ntion during World War II, when China became an ally to the US; however, th e turning point was in 1949, when Communists took over China and caused many students who were studying in the U.S. at the time to stay, and more scholars and professionals sought chances to advance th eir career by immigrating to this country. The McCarran-Walter Act in 1952, which officially codi fied all previous im migration legislation including the Chinese Exclusion Act, had marked an important year for Chinese immigrants (Fu, 2003; Lowery, 2000; Wepman, 2002). After 70 years of obvious discrimination, Chinese immigrants finally got the same of ficial equal rights as other immigrants to the United States and this brought more and more Chinese to the States. A new immigration law passed in 1965 drama tically increased the flow of Chinese immigrants and brought another immigrati on peak between 1980 and 1990 (Tong, 1996; Chiang, 2000; Zhang & Carrasquillo, 1992). Although some researchers mention that the newcomers included some who lacked education and langua ge skills (Zhang & Ca rrasquillo, 1996; Fu, 2003); most people seemed to believe that, unlike the early Chinese immigrants who were known as the coolie trade, the newcomers w ho arrived in the U.S. soon after 1975 had an education, spoke English, and had had some prior contact with Am ericans (Xue, 1995; Heller et al., 2000). It was believed that no matter what prio r experience they had had in th eir home country, or what jobs they were obtaining in the US, the newcomer s were professionals, had had at least some education in their home country, and had high motivation to learn English (Tung, 2000; Ng, 1998). These reports may have been the reason for a new stereotype for Asian immigrants as a successful, law-abiding, and highl y-achieving minority. Chinese immigrants have come to be 28


defined as a model minority along with Japa nese and other Asian ethnic groups (Zhang & Carrasquillo, 1992, 1996; Chiang, 2000; Xue, 1995). However, according to Fu (2003), this is not always the case. She describes three major categories of recent Chinese immigrants. On the one hand, there are those who come to pursue an advanced education or a profession. Then th ere are those who come to join their families. There are still others who are smuggled into this country. Most of these smuggled Chinese come from Fuzhou, a city in a southeastern province of Fujian in China and chose Chinatown to be their first place to settle. This last category of Chinese immigrant clearly does not have the stereotypical characteristics that most people hold for the model minority. Most people in this group come from farming or fishing villages wher e they rarely got the chance to receive much education or even find a stable, reliable job. They normally start in the U.S. by receiving money from relatives who had emigrated earlier. Then, one by one, they bring the whole family out to the United States: Brothers, sisters, husbands, wive s, sons and daughters. Cl early children in this group will experience the biggest challenges in learning school-based U.S. literacy practices. Literacy Practices The term literacy has a variety of definitions that have changed over time. The simplest definition of literacy is the ability to read and write (Gee, 1996; Wasik & Herrmann, 2004). But literacy is more than just simply reading and writing. Literacy is in our everyday lives in different forms from breakfast cereal boxes to the TV guide, from mechanical manuals to shopping lists, from making a call to geting directions. (Cushman et al., 2001). Current understandings of literacy have expanded ev en more beyond simple reading and writing. Literacy in the 21st century includes multiple kinds of literacy such as media and digital literacy, emotional literacy, and visual literacy (Street, 2000). It is also more broadly considered to 29


include social practices, which leads to examinat ions of cross-cultural perspectives on literacy (Cushman et al., 2001; Gee, 2001b; Street, 1995). In this section I first review theoretical defi nitions of literacy and then define literacy practices as I apply the concept in this study. To do this, I will s ynthesize the research of literacy in social, cultural, and critical perspectives. Literacy as Universal Psychological Skills The traditional view of lite racy as cognitive development focused on the cognitive processes that happen when one reads and wr ites. Vygotsky (1978) de veloped a theoretical framework that combined cognition with history, social institutions, inte rpersonal interactions, cultural artifacts, cultu ral meanings, and cultural signs such as language (Jacob, 1992). Vygotsky (1978) declared that society influences the means and the development of higher mental functions at two levels: sociocul tural history and the immediate interpersonal environment. He further explains these two influences on development: An interprersonal process is tran sformed into an intrapersonal one. Every function in the childs cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people ( interpsychological ), and then inside the child ( intrapsychological ) All higher functions originate as actual relations between human individuals [italics as or iginal] (Vygotsky, 1978, p.57). Here he was describing the interpsychologica l development that happens when children use language to interact with society and learn through these in teractions. Intrapsychological development happens inside peop le as ones dialogue with ones elf weaves knowledge and ones literacy into a meaningful tape stry. These theories have lead to social constructionist understandings of how literacy is de veloped in children as they learn to use language as a tool for making meaning. 30


Literacy as Sociocultural Practices A different way to conceptualize literacy focu ses on the social-cultural context of literacy practices (Cushman et al., 2001) and their acquisi tion and functions. Influential figures in this trend, Berger and Luckmann (1967) speak of dial ectic process; to empha size the importance of social interactions. If we take literacy practices as ways of constructing meaning, according to Berger and Luckmann, then, meaning has to be constructed through a dialectic process of externalization, objectivation, a nd internalization. They follo w Vygotsky (1962) who claimed that egocentric speech is a phenomenon of the tr ansition from interpsychic to intrapsychic functioning (Vygotsky, 1962, p.133). Vygotsky posited three processes of internalization to describe a series of transformations, and concl udes that (a)spects of ex ternal or communicative speech as well as egocentric speech turn inw ard to become the basis of inner speech (Vygotsky, 1978, p.57). This is similar to Berger and Luckmanns (1967) statement that an individual simultaneously externalizes his own bei ng into the social world and internalizes it as an objective reality (p.65). Not unlike Vygotskys ideas about intraand in ter-psychological processes, external and internal context are fundamental to Cummin s (2001) theories about how new immigrant bilingual children acquire English proficiency, a fundamental base for English literacy. Cummins defines external context as the contextual s upport for language and literacy learning (e.g., the characteristics of the language or the instructional presentation). Cummins defines the internal context as the resources that in dividuals have acquired as a resu lt of their life experiences and social interactions. His point is that th rough personal experiences individuals actively contextualize and making meaningf ul) content and language from a range of situations. In other words, language and literacy acquisition cannot be separated from the soci al-cultural context of the learners. 31


Dyson (1993, 1997), grounded in Bakhtins theory, explains the relationship between self and others, inner images, and reflective images as shifting along different identities or social situations, which, using Gees term, can be ca lled situated meaning. Dysons explanation builds on Berger and Luckmanns idea of a dialectic process of m eaning making. It also illustrates Vygotskys (1978) conceptualization of the interpsychological to intrapsychological transformation process: One moves in sociocultural space in divers e relationships with others. At the same time, one forms his/her identity and finds his/her position in their social worlds. This happens in a dialogic process: Through speaki ng and conversing with others, one makes meaning of oneself and his/her social worlds. text I Inner meaning Figure 2-1. The relationship betwee n one and the social worlds. Literacy can be connected to social practices and interactions if the term literacy is not limited to the act of reading and writing, but is more broadly defined as social and cultural (Wasik & Herrmann, 2004). Heath (1982) uses term literacy events to describe the specific literacies used in particular places and time. Bruner (1986) and Gee (1996) both believe that literacy is not defined by indivi duals but is constructed by member s of groups as they engage in different literate practices for special purposes. In other words, literacy should be viewed as participation in social and cultural act s by group members (Cairney & Ashton, 2002). 32


Gee (2001a) integrates social and psychological approaches to language with literacy studies, He believes that the focus of these studies should be social practices. He uses the term Discourses to describe the combinations of saying (writing)-doing-being-valuing-believing that are ways of being in the world (and) fo rms of life which integrate words, acts, values, beliefs, attitudes, and social identities as we ll as gestures, glances, body positions, and clothes (Gee, 2001b, p.526). These integrations of tal k, interaction, values and beliefs, are literacy practices (Cook-Gumperz, 1986). In other words, when studying literacy practices, we are studying all aspects of soci al life, rather than a literacy-in-itself (Street, 2001), or simply human interaction with printed materials. When considering literacy as social practices that are associated w ith everyday life in different contexts, literacy prac tices cannot only be seen as asp ects of culture, but also of power structure (Street, 2001). A critical perspective on literacy, then, involves societal implications of literacy, and places literacy at th e center of our lives and entangles some of the most difficult problems in social analysis (Col lins & Blot, 2003, p.1). By bringing in theories of mind, society, and education, literacy should be something that can be used to help the functioning of social practices in specific projects for diverse cultural actions (Luke, 1997; Gee, 1997). A definition of literacy as implicated with the social emphasizes the interconnection of literacy and socioeconomic and political power. Theo rists in this paradigm are concerned with the challenges and conflicts that are created when people are socialized into one linguistic identity kit (Cushman et al., 2001) with a particular set of, in Gees (1999) words, situated meanings. Therefore, the uses of literacy, as well as the holding or providing of access to literacy, can be seen in terms of power relations (Collins & Blot, 2003). In a critical perspective, 33


a definition for literacy goes beyond traditional d ecoding or encoding of words to include the process of reproducing meaning for text or societ y by connecting ones life and culture to social structure. Literacy is also defined as a proce ss in which new knowledge is constructed and acted upon by participating in all decisi ons that affect and control our lives (Shannon, 1995). Thus, the focus of this perspective of literacy is the collective consciousness and action for social change (Walter, 1999, p. 44). Blackledge (2000) further elaborates that the critical perspectiv e of literacy in terms of its functions in society. He include s in the definition the need to share experiences within an interpretive community to adequately comprehend texts, and goes further to the potential of written language to be a tool for people to anal yze the division of power and resources in their society and transform discriminatory struct ure (Blackledge, 2000, p.18). This new vein of critical literacy research in cludes studies of cultural divers ity, linguistic minorities, secondlanguage learning and bilingual education, accounts of class m obility and identity politics, service learning and academic-community outreach initiatives, relationship between ones life and social structure, and the acq uisition of academic and professional discourses (Cushman et al., 2001; Luke 1997; Shannon, 1995). Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines (1988) mention that we cannot ignore the social processes of context. Heath (1999) further explains th at the research on literacy ha s always been done within social contexts. Even Vygotsky and Bakhtin co nnected cultural interact ions with different approaches to teaching children how to read a nd write. Heath found that (e)thnicity, geographic location, and sociopolitical factors determined so cial position and orientation to mainstream values not literacy or formal education as pi votal factors (p.103). She identified four aspects of social practices of lit eracy that have been presented in most of the studies carried out in formal 34


schooling settings and also within families and comm unities. First of all, she believed that the social nature of literacy is for multiple perspectives; individuals assess different types of literacy within different daily situations and institutions Secondly, different roles and forms of language socialization may increase work interdependently with various forms and types of literacy. The third aspect is that new technol ogies have made new spaces for viewing and creating literacies. The final feature of social practices of literacy concerns the social role one plays to interact and identify within literacy. Similar to Heaths four aspects of social practices, Gee (1999) used terms such as situated meanings and cultural models to involve ways of looking at how speakers and writers give language specific meanings within specific situations; this put the emphasis on the cultural and social influence of word usage. Since all th ese situated meanings are assembled by socioculturally-defined experiences, with a critical perspective, if only mainstream culture is seen as orthodox, those who use words in different ways will have a hard time surviving in the literacy world that is controlled by mainstream cultural groups. Connections between Literacy and Fami lies, Communities, and Social Worlds Parents play an important role in children s literacy development; and programs that involve parents and childrens education have a significant im pact on childrens cognitive development and academic performance (Nickse & Quezada, 1994; Paratore et al.,1999). However, parental involvement is known to be onl y one of several elements that are important for childrens literacy development and school ac hievement: Social class affects schooling too. Social class shapes the resources which parents have at their dis posal to comply with teachers requests for assistance (Lareau, 2000, p.2). Work ing-class or limited English speaking parents may lack both the skills and the confidence to help their children in schoo l. Parental involvement 35


should not be a one-way path that only asks parents to present and assist teachers in school, but should provide service that help s parents to support their childrens academic achievement. Even so, it is impossible to ignore that schoo led literacy, to use Heaths (1982) definition of literacy events townspeople are more familiar with, creates difficulties for children from different social and cultural backgrounds. The issues that affect the acquisition of literacy among minorities are that children have experienced unequa l opportunity to use thei r literacy skills in a socially and economically meaningful and re warding manner. Dominant group members who control the educational system have encouraged minorities to perceive and define acquisition of literacy as an instrument of deculturati on without true assi milation (Ogbu, 1987, p.151). In her forward for Bridges to literacy (Dikinson, 1994), Sulzby reminds us that the metaphor of a bridge highlights the importance of explori ng, asserting, and cult ivating a positive set of relationships between home and school. It also highlights the impo rtance of talk since different kinds of talk can provide content and st ructure to children as they become literate. She concludes that families and talk are the two themes that build a bridge to the future. Families and talk should not be seen as only interactions in families, but should also be seen as interactions between children, families, and schools. Parents need to know how to gain access to the school community so that they will be ab le to help their children become literate in different contents and structures. Schools have the responsibility to help create bridges by balancing the worth of different literacies. As Brandt (2001) stat es, Understanding not just accommodating economic and technological change is a vital re sponsibility of a democr atic school (p.206). Schools are important to developing literacy bu t they no longer seem to be the major influence on literacy development (Brandt, 2001). Nowadays, literacy is s ponsored in different ways. Hull and Schultz (2002) collect research on literacy in out-of-school settings homes, 36


after-school programs, and community-based orga nizations where litera cy practices flourish. They try to connect the relations hips between school and non-school contexts; they believe that children and adults [perform] successfully in a variety of out-of-school tasks that theyve not been able or eager to comple te in the schoolroom (p.3). Dys on (1993) describes how children from diverse backgrounds bring diverse experien ces, such as drawing, talking, playing, and storytelling, from their social worlds to the clas sroom as resources teachers can use to build new possibilities together with the whole class. We have to remember that whatever children bring from their social worlds out of school can sponsor their literacy development in diverse ways. English Language Learners Regardless of your definition for literacy, langu age is a critical pa rt of its foundations. Therefore, any study that looks at literacy must address how that foundation is acquired. ELL students come from a variety of cultural, linguistic, and educa tional backgrounds in a greater number than previously believed, and all of them need an environment designed to help them develop a deep and sophisticated understanding of language. According to Houk (2005), the term English Language Learner (ELL) includes both those people born in foreign countries with limited English language proficienc y and those born into a non-English speaking family living in the United States. In this section I first review th eories of language acquisition relevant to this study. Then I will discuss second language learning and the cultural curriculum. Finally, I will relate this discussion to studies of ELL pedagogies and teaching and learning. First (L1) and Second Language (L2) Acquisition It is believed that first language acquisition is an achievement that all human beings can accomplish no matter what different social, cult ural, economic, and political background they have. Gee (1994) lists 15 principles of language learning that he believes are applicable even beyond this basic first language acq uisition. His principles can be summarized under four big 37


ideas: First, efficacious language learning and teaching need differe nt inputs. That is, learning a language depends on different needs, and the use of different strategies to teach and to help with learning, including both t op-down and bottom-up teaching strategies, and various kinds of learning strategies. Gees second big idea is that teaching and learning need action, scaffolding, routine practices, social interac tions, and social support; the lear ners need to interact with teachers, with peers, with the environment, and with society. The third idea concerns learners experiences of the body, action, time, and space ar e also important in teaching and learning. Finally, learners need to understand their positio n and understand the different meanings they are making in different situations. For second language (L2) learners, Ellis ( 1997) states that there are many individual differences associated with language acquisition: It is recognized that individual learner differences associated with multiple factors result in a different rate of acquisition and degree of achievement in a second language. Among these f actors, Ellis mentions first language (L1) background, aptitude, learning styles motivation and personality, and social factors as those that influence a learners desire to a cculturate or sense of identity. Gees (1994) principles and Elli s (1997) factors are fairly similar: First, to acquire a language, whether first or subsequent, the lear ner needs scaffolding, in teractions with and support from the social environm ent. Secondly, prior experiences can help make sense of the world and create meaning. For second language (L2) learners, first language (L1) proficiency is as important a factor as prior knowledge. Finally, both authors suggest that different inputs in the classroom should be provided to accommodate different kinds of learners. Although the factors and principles of learning an d teaching L1 and L2 seem to be similar, there are some differences between the two (Williams & Snipper, 1990). Gee (1994) points out 38


two interrelated aspects of L1 acquisition that are not directly t ransferable to L2 in school: The first one is that children are gi ven help by those closest to them in their social environment when acquiring L1, but not when acquiring L2. Second, L2 acquisition is more time consuming work. Learning a Second Language To further underline Gees ( 1994) not transferable aspect s, I cite Cummins (2000) position that the native speakers of any language start their schooling as fully competent users of their language. ELL children, on the other hand, star t a new learning process at least five years later than those native speakers. He created the concepts of BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills) and CALP (Cognitive Academ ic Language Proficiency) to distinguish conversational from academic language proficie ncy. Cummins tells us that ELL students may need only two years to reach a peer-appropriate level of Englis h proficiency for everyday use whereas approaching grade norms in academic language use may take five to seven years. This distinction between BICS and CALP highlight s the fact that ELL students may have more academic difficulties in school than native speaker s due to variable language proficiency. This means that in addition to learning new literacy practices, ELL students need to catch up with their native-speaker peers who started their English acquisition at least five years earlier. For this, they need support both at home and in school. Besides the BICS and CALP diff erences, other factors that cont ribute to advanced literacy development in English by ELL learners include fi rst language literacy proficiency, basic oral English proficiency, interactions with native/stan dard English speakers, basic reading skills, and getting input from authentic written texts and the attention to language forms (Scarcella, 2002). That is to say, even for ELL students, their L2 ac quisition may vary accordi ng to different levels of first language ability, their habits of using language, their family, and their social cultural backgrounds. 39


To catch up with the academic norm, ELL l earners need more opportunities outside of school. It is not enough for L2 learners to hold only general meanings in certain contexts; they need practice with varied meanings in different contexts of use (Gee, 199 4). Since the different types and amounts of literacy exposure that young children have at home will reflect the childrens literacy knowledge (Xu, 1999), family literacy programs for ELL families are important too. Cultural backgrounds impact ELL st udents learning and interac tions at school, as can be seen by Fu (1995) who describes how Lao immigr ant childrens voices ca n be hard hear in classrooms. Since their culture does not encour age these youngsters to speak up in front of authorities, they always sit silently in corners, far away from others. Moreover, their typical schoolwork does not encourage them to speak, sh are, and get to know others, but focuses on decontextualized words and meaningless language skills. If the teachers do not notice this cultural characteristic, and do not use different st rategies in their teaching, such as creating student-centered and critical-thinking-oriented cl assrooms, these students will take even longer for them to acquire CALP. Cultural Factors in Learning a Language Culture connects traditions a ssociated with the past a nd involving the transfer of knowledge from one generation to another. It may be transmitted through oral histories within families and communities or through written so cial accounts (Gadsen, 2004, p.406). According to Boutte (2002), culture is too important to be overlooked or disregarded. However, culture should not be seen as a fixed core of traditions or descriptive features It cannot be identified simply as ethnic background or race. There is a great amount of variatio n within and between any identifiable group, so cultural groups shoul d not be stereotyped or over-generalized. 40


Heath (1983) studied two communities that s eemed to share a common American culture but really illustrated how two diverse cultures can co-exist in the same geographical region. Trackton and Roadville represented black and white non-mainstream-culture communities. She reported three important conclusions based on her 10-year, longitudinal study of the ways each community used words to sociali ze its children. First, she found that patterns of language used in any community reinforced cultural patterns, a nd that the interactions within the culture influenced language habits throughout a childs literacy development. Second, she described multiple factors involved with childrens acad emic success in school, especially when the academic success is defined as mainstream success. Third, she showed how the varied and complex patterns of interactions between oral an d written uses of language. Her study shows that there are also cultural patterns that affect the use of oral and written language. Heaths study described how the same language works differently in different cultures, Nieto (1996) identified three areas in which cu ltural differences affect language acquisition processes: learning styles, communication styles, and language differences Nietos first two cultural differences are very close to Heaths desc ription of the ways that children socialize in their community and they way they use of la nguage in learning and communication. However, Nieto includes one more difference (i.e., the language (linguistic) differe nce) as an important factor that affects childrens literacy learning in school. This framework may help identify the challenges that these children have to face. Niet o (1996) states that the values, attitudes, and behaviors taught at home are the basis for how children learn to learn (Nieto, 1996, p.139). Since language is inextricably linked to culture, it is the tool that people use to express their cultural values and also the le ns through which they view the world. Thus, according to Nieto (1996), the language that children bring to school inevitably affects how and what they learn. 41


However, as previously stated, we cannot ge neralize based only on group membership. Even though children from the same ethnic background may share similar characteristics, there are other factors, such as social cla ss, that may be even more import ant than ethnicity in influencing learning style. Nieto also states that many culturally different children f ail in school because of miscommunication between teachers and student s. Despite the importance of language as a factor in learning in school, some of the mo st comprehensive approaches to multicultural education, while include[ing] race, class, and ge nder concerns, have failed to include language issues in their conceptual framework (Niet o, 1996, p.187).Cultural expectations cause children from diverse backgrounds to make choices to respond to their teachers differently. ELL Teaching and Learning A logical conclusion from the collective evidence of these earlier studies leads us to see how teachers and students both play roles in acti vely constructing meani ng. Students are not the only learners; the teachers also need to lear n from teaching and from students (Houk, 2005). As Nieto (2003) states, a multicultural perspective, as helpful and progressive as it might be, needed to be complemented by a critical understandi ng of the reality of ine quality in our nations schools (p.17). She states that teaching is abou t and for democracy. However, teaching has to involve love and respect. Teachers need to reflect themselves all the time; to critically think about self and others, to unders tand the identification of self, and through interactions with students and colleagues, teachers then will be able to create a dialectic and democratic learning environment. Shor and Freire (1987) propose a dialogic, libratory educatio n in which a problem-posing participatory approach allows teachers and student s to transform learning into a truly democratic, collaborative process. They further elaborate a teachers role as an ar tist and see teaching and 42


learning as an aesthetic endeavor because education is an act of knowing, and knowing is such a beautiful thing! (Shor & Freire 1987, p.31). They suggest that teachers need creative ingenuity to adjust pedagogy for each new group of students. Through informal relationships between parents and kids, or formal relationships in primary school between teachers and students, education is linked with a permanent process of formation. Thus, a critical pedagogy that focuses on how to create an aesthetic learning environm ent where both teachers and students participate in and construct meaning together is important for ELL students. According to Boutte (2002), encounters with different beliefs, habits, and values make us more aware of our own prejudi ces and therefore increase our self-knowledge and enable our personal and professional growth (p.4). Teacher s should use the opportunities to learn from students with diverse backgrounds, should always be ready to change and apply the change to reach every child in the classroom (Diller, 2004). By bringing in a cultural curriculum with a dialectic and hermeneutic process, both teachers and students can become more aware of themselves as well as of the unfamiliar other s, and both of them can benefit from it (Houk, 2005). MacGillivray et al (2004) state that Most prepackaged curric ula have been created with middle-class, native English speakers in mi nd (MacGillivray et al 2004, p.150). Therefore, cultural curriculum has been misunderstood as the integratation of all differences into a generalized middle-class, native English speakers culture. Instead of a real, diverse and equal cultural curriculum: Educational institutions have the intention of moving peoples values, skills, and knowledge toward generalized, predictable norms, and this is especially true for minority students or for those [for whom] English is a second language (Heath & Mangiola, 1991, p. 17). 43


Heath and Mangiola further claim th at with this intention, some teachers may use this to force students to move towards the mainstream. This kind of strategy just takes equality to the surface level, but not to true equality. In the realm of cultural perspective, teachers should not only learn a bout their childrens lives beyond the school walls, they also need to create a pe dagogy for all students th at involves the diverse children and their worlds in day-to-day activities of the classrooms, especially those depicted in texts and other written materials (MacGill ivray et al., 2004, p. 150). Learning to affirm differences does not mean that teachers should equate differentiating instruction with lower expectations. Nieto (1996) stat es that (e)qual is not the same (Nieto, 1996, p.136) and draws three educational implications: First, teachers must acknowledge the differences that children bring to school, including their gender, race, ethnicity, language, and social class. Second, they must admit the possibility that individual and cultural differences ma y influence how students learn. Third, they must accept students differenc es, make provisions for these differences, and view students cultural and lingui stic backgrounds as strengths that teachers can use to benefit the whole class. Synthesizing Durgunoglu and Ve rhoeven (1998) and Fu (1995), we can gather some ideas about ELL teaching and learning. First, it is important to take the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of ELL students into consideration for teachers prepara tion, curriculum, and materials. Second, teachers need to be aware of individual differences among students in order to aid ELL students in working out appropriate inst ructional strategies for individual students. Third, in order to encourage ELL students to spea k up and participate in cl ass activities, teachers should build classrooms into friendly communities; with group sharing and cooperative activities, ELL learners are able to acquire English by making meaning in vari ous situations through 44


authentic practices and interactions. Finally, t eachers need to help ELL students match values and practices between home and school. To help understand these values and practices Boutte (2002) collected eleven stories and personal narratives from different ethnic groups including African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, and Native Americans. The narratives include not only minority cultures but also the White culture. She states that in clusion of Whites in discussions of culture may help illustrate the role culture plays in learning for all ethn ic groups. Although many Whites are not able and not willing to view their own ethnicity in cultural terms and thus, do not recognize the cultural differences among p eople of colors, McIntosh ( 1997) claims that we should see Whiteness as culture too. As illustrated in the books that were discussed earlier, when we think about children from diverse backgrounds, we need to think not only about children from different ethnic cultural groups, such as children from African Amer ican families (Dyson, 1993; Heath, 1983; Taylor, 1983, Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988), Chines e immigrant families, (Fu, 2003; Li, 2002), Laotian refugee families (Fu, 1995), European Am ericans, Native Americans (Boutte, 2002), and migrant Hispanic families (Lopez, 1999), but we also need to think about children from different socioeconomic statuses (Brandt, 2001; Heath, 19 83; Purcell-Gates, 1995). Both social culture and social environment stimulate human beings to think and to respond. Different cultures and different societies may stimulate different th inking. Childrens value systems and responses may also differ. The characteristics of them ar e often as different as the individuals, too. Immigrant Family Literacy Practices Studies of family literacy can be described as the study of relationships between family and literacy. It is generally believed that fam ily is the first learning environment for children. Family, as a primary social institution, is where in dividuals early in life start their socialization in 45


the home, and with peer groups in their communit y, to make sense of the world and to interact with others. It is also where indi viduals get their basic structure of socialization and reassemble it into secondary socialization (Berger and Luckmann, 1967; Gee, 2001b). Thus, family is a very important place for children to establish their con cepts of language and literacy practices. Wasik and Herrmann (2004) define family literacy as literacy practices among family members and literacy beliefs that are transferred intergenerationally. However, family literacy practices should not only be seen as a way of using literacy and language in the home, but they should also be connected to social situations and culturally relevant issues between families and communities (Rogers, 2002). Dyson (1993, 1997, 2003) extended the social en vironment from family to community. She used the concept of unofficial worlds to indicate what Burger and Luckmann (1967) called primary institutions. This is what Gee called primary socialization, which included family (Home Sphere) and communities (Peer Sphere ). These two spheres allow children to construct meanings through their interactions in nearby enviro nments and also play a role in bridging them to the official sphere. The intera ctions, or dialogues, th at children learn and use from family or community are quite important: Individuals always need to negotiate differences through dialogue si nce there are no two individual s who share exactly the same experiences or belong to exactly the same social worlds, even when they share certain ways of using English or common social experiences. Ethnographic Studies of Family Literacy A lot of researchers conduct et hnographic studies of fa mily literacy and se e literacy as an ongoing phenomenon of family life. These studie s provide rich information on how families communicate among themselves and with other gr oups and of the importance of family and community in literacy practices. In the following paragraphs I examine relevant studies that 46


explore family literacy practices from differe nt perspectives. Some studies focus on similar cultural backgrounds, while others compare different cultural groups. Yet others highlight parents attitudes toward literac y. Some studies deal with soci o-economic influences, and still others emphasize the interactions be tween different social settings. Taylor (1983) studied six white middle-class families and found that even though the families have similar cultural and social-econom ic backgrounds, parents may still have different beliefs and literacy practices. Tayl or concluded that any family act ivities children participated in at home with family members (e.g., shopping expe riences, learning instru ctions for cooking or special occasions) resulted in knowledge about lite racy, and were part of the families literacy histories. Taylor (1983) reminds the readers that, The children are growing in familial contexts; the parents literate habits infuse their childrens lives with lite rate activities (p.86). In other words, children may not get direct instruction of reading or writi ng from parents or other family members, but they acquire liter acy knowledge from daily interactions with the family. In contrast to Taylors middle-class white families, Heath (1983) study focused on two working-class communities: one white and one Af rican American, and one middle class AfricanAmerican community. Heaths research on the us es of literacy among these three culturally distinct communities showed how the cultural beliefs of the first institution, family and community formed and developed childrens liter acy practices. She illust rated how mainstream groups were socialized to think and use literacy in ways of fo rmal schooling; however, working class whites and working class African Americans we re taught to think and use literacy in a more collective way. Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines (1988) studied the literacy practices at home and with friends and communities of three poor inner-city families. In each of the families, the parents tried hard 47


to provide their children with a loving, safe learning environment. At the same time, they struggled to provide food and shelter for their ch ildren, which may have had priority over any other tasks. They concluded that the similarities between Heaths townspe ople, Taylors suburban families, and the families in the Shay Avenue neighborhood are fa r more striking than the differences. Thus, in focusing upon the children, we cannot emphasize enough that they are active participants and interpreters in a social wo rld in which texts are written and read. (Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1998, p. 200). Social Environment and Literacy Socioeconomic status of parents is not the only factor that in fluences childrens literacy development. The attitudes of the family and of the communities provide opportunities for children to interact with differe nt literacies. The studies alread y mentioned looked at literacy practices in African American families, white-middle-class groups, working class white groups, and mainstream groups. Stevenson et al (1999) studied families from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and found that parents attitudes to education also have an impact on childrens literacy development. Those families who provide a more favorable home environment for academic progress obviously play a critical role in directing childrens literacy into a mainstream path than those who do not Fus (1995, 2003) and Lis (2002) studies on Asian families break the stereotypes that children from Asian families always have better literate support from families and achieve higher academic performance at school. In 1995, Fu studied four Laotian refugee adolescents from one family. In 2003, she studied families of new Chinese immigrants in New York Chinatown. Li (2002) studied four Chinese immigrant families; two were highly literate but with lo wer economic means, while the other two had a higher economic status but limited literacy interactions and practices Fus and Lis studies show that for children 48


49 from immigrant families, no matter if they were bor n in the original country or in the US, their family and social environments have a gr eat impact on their l iteracy development. Even though primary institutions, such as fa mily and communities, provide children with the first chance to nourish their socialization and meaning constr uction, children need to start a more complicated interaction with various social institutions in order to better connect with the real world surrounding them. A very first secondary instituti on where children learn to connect to the real world, a world defined by townspeop le, and where they can learn to function in order to survive in the mainstream, is school. Recapitulation The studies reviewed above are intended to provide a background for my study and to present where new Chinese working-class immigrant families stand in history and in society. Children from these families, no matter if they were born in a foreign country or in the US, are to be considered ELL students and have both language a nd cultural barriers to deal with. This study shifts the focus from what most researchers have been interested in, school literacy, to literacy practices out of school. Living in bicultural families and learning to function in bilingual, biliterate worlds, these ELL students have had a lot to overcome. in this study I aim to explore the influences from family and community on children, and to discover how these families understand literacy practices in order to help educators find a way that may better connect children from working-class Chinese new immigrant families to mainstream school cultural and literacy practices.


CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY I have always been amazed by the stories of pa st experiences told by real people in real settings. I have always believed th at real stories have the power to make an important statement. That is why I am so attracted by qualitative research. As Merria m (2002) states, (q)ualitative research is a powerful tool for learning about our lives and the sociohisto rical context in which we live (p.xv). Glesne (1999) said that, Learni ng to listen well to others stories and to interpret and retell the accounts is part of the qualitative research ers trade (p.1). A qualitative researcher is an interpretive bricoleur (Den zin & Lincoln, 2000) who understa nds that research is an interactive process shaped by his or her personal history, biography, gender social class, race, and ethnicity, and by those of the people in the settings (D enzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.6). He or she also believes in a philosophy that all human beings are guided by certain abstract principles that combine epistemological, ontological and methodological be liefs (Bateson, 1972; Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). As a qualitative researcher, I am interested in understanding the multiple constructions and interpretations of reality, even knowing they may change, at a particular point in time and in a particular cont ext (Merriam, 2002). In other word s, I believe that qualitative research can help us understand what it feels like in a setting and help us to be closer to the participants and to learn how they make sense of literacy (Tobin, 2005). This chapter provides a theoretical rationale for the study and goes on to describe the data sources, data collection and data analysis processes. First, I will briefly discuss constructionism as it is the epistemology that informs the theo retical perspective of interactional ethnography. Next, the descriptions of the context of the st udy will give readers a clea rer picture of how the settings and participants were se lected, who the particip ants were, and where the settings were. I 50


will describe data sources, data collection methods and the detailed procedures of data analysis so that readers can follow the ways I interpreted the stories. I include preliminary results from my pilot study to explain how and why I re vised my research pl an based on my on-going interactions with the family. In the final section of this chapter, I establish my validation process before ending with a statement about my subject ivity, and a discussion of the limitations of the study. Constructionism: The Epistemology Epistemology is the philosophica l basis of knowledge. It help s a researcher ensure the knowledge and the way of understand the knowledge are adequate and le gitimate (Crotty, 1998; Maynard, 1994). Constructionists, vi ew meaning as constructed out of engagement with realities in our world; there is no meaning without a mi nd. As Crotty (1998) states, constructionism is the view that all knowledge, and therefore all meaningful reality as such, is contingent upon human practices, being constructed in and out of interaction between hum an beings and their world, and developed and transmitted within an essentially social context (p. 42). Ultimately, Constructionists focuses on the collective gene ration [and transmission] of meaning (Crotty, 1998). From the constructionist view, meaning is not discover ed but is constructed from interactions between individuals and worlds. Thus, the meaning of reality is constructed as a function of the position or perspective taken by a culture, a social form ation, or an individual person (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2005, p. 14). The constructionist aims to overcome representationalist epistemologies in a variety of ways In a fa irly unremarkable sense, we are all constructivists if we believe that the mind is active in the c onstruction of knowledge (Schwandt, 2000, p.197). 51


Theoretical Perspective: Interactional Ethnography Ethnography, as Schwandt (2007) states, uses both process and produc t to describe and interpret cultural behaviors. From an ethnographic perspective, culture is the central of the analytic concepts in processing the study. With the belief that literacy practices are c onstructed by members of groups, literacy can be examined across social and cultural contexts. From this perspective, literacy practices, literate actions, literate processes, are examined to see ho w they contribute to situated meanings within and across times and events in the family. The interactional ethnography used in this study integrates the interactional ethnography of Castanheira, Cr awford, Dixon and Green (2000), which examines literate processe s, literate actions, literate pr actices, and literate artifacts among members within a group; Purcell-Gatess (2004) network approach to et hnography, that studies the literacy that occurs within social networks in a cultural domain; and F. Webers (2001) multiintegrative ethnography, which sees ethnographic work as collectiv e that depicts the social settings and personal history. I focus on interact ions between individuals, society, and culture, which means the interactions among political, economic and social environments. Different from traditional et hnography that emphasizes the historical-geographical study of peoples or cultures that i nvolves classifications, comparisons, and explanations of cultural differences (Schwandt, 2007, p. 96), interactiona l ethnography focuses more on the meaning constructed from moment-by-moment interac tions among members of a social group, the negotiation of meaning through inte ractions, and the processes, practices and artifacts that contribute to situated definitions (Castanheira et al., 2000, p.357). Adapted from LeCompte and Schensul (1999) and Purcell-Gates (2004, p.93), inte ractional ethnography is especially useful for the study of language and lite racy for the following reasons: 1. It is carried out in a natural setting. 52


2. It involves intimate, face-to-face interaction with participants. 3. It presents an accurate reflection of both pa rticipants and research ers perspectives. 4. It draws from various data sour ces to create cultural themes. 5. It frames human behaviors and beliefs within a sociopolitical and historical context. 6. It uses the concept of cu lture as a lens through which to interpret results. Heath and Street (2008) believe that ethnography can be a good fit for studying language and literacies since ethnography studies the cultur al patterning of interac tions shapes identities and roles (p.6), and language reflects identi ties and roles and connect s individuals lives to society and fills their lives with meaning (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). Language also allows people to make meaningful connections to pe ople around them. In studying literacy practices and family lives, for example, Taylor (1983) explaine d the relationship between the literacy practices of children and everyday lives as: literacy is viewed. as a filter through which the social organization of the everyday lives of the families is accomplished. The children, as integral members of the social organization, use print as one medium through which they can master their surroundings. It enables them to build new social connections as well as to establish new environmental relationships, and the meanings of print are befo re them in their inventive constructions of literacy in their daily activities (p.25-26). As Gergen (2000) points, If language is a central means by which we carry on our lives together carrying the past into the present to create the future then our ways of talking and writing become key targets of concern (p.62) Berger and Luckmann (1967) believe that peoples relationships to the surr ounding environment is first stru ctured by their own biological constitution and then engaged in different activ ities. The first institution for most people is family. Family helps children construct their world. The culture of family surely has influence on childrens understanding of the social communities. 53


Settings of the Study Selection of Settings and Participants The first step in making this research possi ble was to find working-class, new Chinese immigrant families. I defined working-class ne w immigrant families as families in which the parents had limited education, who were blue-colla r workers and were the first generation to the U.S. I selected families with school-aged children because my intention is to learn more about literacy culture from the family perspective and try to explore how it is dis/connected to the literacy culture of the school. In order to find my participan ts, I first made a lis t of the Asian populat ions that included Taiwanese and Chinese overseas communities in town. Being part of the Taiwanese overseas community, I tried to look for families from my own social circle first to see if there were families that fit my criteria of working-class pa rents with school-age children. I was hoping they could introduce me to more po ssible participants. Soon I found it was not easy. Besides the fact that most of the Taiwanese or Chinese families I knew in town were either graduate students or professionals, it was embarrassing to ask friends in my culture specifically about their literacy or type of work. Thus, in order to extend the ra nge of possible particip ants, I made a list of Asian/Chinese restaurants and stor es by checking the local phone book. After I acquired approval for my research, I st arted visiting the restau rants/stores and asked any workers who could speak mandarin Chinese if they had children aged 6 to 16. If they did, I asked them if they might want a free tutor. I pr ovided volunteer tutoring in order to be able to enter the families. After visiting 26 restaurants a nd stores, I eliminated those the owners/workers were not Chinese, did not speak mandarin Chinese, or did not have children or their children were not in the age range I was seeking. Only a fe w of them fit my criteria, but some were very 54


suspicious and rejected me imme diately. At last two families allowed me to start tutoring the children: The Chens1 and the Lis. I obtained signed consent forms from the parents and started to go to the families once or twice a week to help the children with their hom ework. A few weeks later, I discovered that the Li family came from a high-educational backgr ound with both parents pursuing academic careers; they were only working part-time in the restau rant during the academic year break. Mrs. Li soon quitted her part-time job and told me they did no t need my tutoring anymore. The Chens, at the same time, asked me to extend my tutoring to their just-arrived relatives child. After I got another signed consent form from the new famil y, the Wangs, this large extended family became my participant family. I also interviewed some teachers of the children but in the end I did not consider them participants since my focus na rrowed to the family literacy practices. I will discuss the teachers late r in this chapter. The Family The Chen family, also known as the owner fam ily, had established their lives in the US first. The father began the adve nture in 1992, and then he brought the mother and sons to the new world in 1996 and 1999. The Family is composed of Mr. Chen, the owner and a manager of the restaurant, Mrs. Chen, the other manager and the cashier of the restaura nt, and their two sons, Sam, a 14 year-old 6th grader, and Tim, a 9 year-old 4th grader. After severa l years of hard-work and moving around to different restaurants in the southeastern US, working as waiter/waitress, cook, manager, and co-owner, they finally obtained legal status and the ability to purchase a restaurant in this rural college town. 1 All names of students, families, schools and places are pseudonyms. 55


Following the pioneer, more relatives of Mrs. Chen came to work for the restaurant and establish a home that is within walking distance of the restaurant. They are the Wang family and some other workers/relatives. I call them the worker family: Mr. Wang, the chef of the restaurant, Mrs. Wang, the buffet table organizer of the restaurant (also Mrs. Chens second elder sister), and their son, Xiao, who immigrated to th e US at the age of 16 and started school here in the 8th grade. Other members of the family include Ken (Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Wangs nephew from their brothers side), Sue (Kens wife) and Sen (Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Wangs nephew from their sisters side). In total ther e are ten people in this big restaura nt family, as listed in Table 3-1. More details about the family and thei r context are provided in Chapter 4. Table 3-1. The extended restaurant family Name Age* Roles John (Maoping) Chen 40 Mr. Chen, Owner of the restaurant, the pioneer of the family Jane (Biqiu) Zhao 37 Mrs. Chen, the connecting link among th e various relatives Sam (Chong) Chen 15 7th grader, Mr. and Mrs. Chens son Tim (Tin) Chen 10 4th grader, Mr. and Mrs. Chens son Zhiyong Wang 42 The restaurants Chef (Mrs. Chens brother-in-law) Biqin Zhao 39 Worker in the restaurant, Mrs. Chens elder sister Xiao Wang 17 9th grader, Mr. and Mrs. Wangs son, Mrs. Chens nephew Ken Zhao 27 Waiter in the restaurant, Mrs. Chens nephew Sue Lin 21 Waitress in the restaurant, Kens wife Sen Wang 19 Assistant cook, Mrs. Chens nephew *age in 2007 The Pilot Study Before setting up the data collection process fo r the formal dissertation research, I engaged in various literacy activities with these families as my pilot study (e.g., library visits, shared reading, and reflective writing with the children). I also attended family activities when possible. As Bogdan and Biklen (1998) state, with a preliminary data collec tion and analysis, a researcher can be in a much better position to discuss what she plans to do and what might be in the data, as well as discuss the design and emerging themes in more detail. Thus, the main purpose of this 56


pilot study was to build rapport with the family, to better understand the so cial circle of these families, and to get acquainted with the children. Besides, the pilot study also helped me to improve my field note-taking tech niques, to sharpen my observa tion lens, and to develop and shift my roles between being a participant observer/researcher and a family friend. The first half of the Pilot Study was from April to early June, 2005, when the Chen brothers were going to school everyday. Xiao had just arrived in the US and stayed in the restaurant while his parents worked. During the week, Xiao stayed in the restaurant until Mrs. Chen or I brought him back home in the afternoo n for my twice weekly visit and tutoring session with the Chen children. Often, Mr. or Mrs. Chen was there delivering lu nches. Twice I visited them at 3 or 4pm after Sam got home from school and Mrs. Chen brought Xiao home and delivered their lunch from the restaurant. During this time, I had informal conversation with parents and children before or af ter the tutoring. In a ddition, on the weekdays that I brought Xiao back to his parents in the restaurant, I stayed there for another hour or two to observe the interactions between them. During the weekends, I visited the restaurant and sometimes volunteered to take the children to church on Sunday morning. In both pl aces, I observed their inte ractions with other people there. On some Sundays, I just stayed in the restaurant for a few hours with the families. The second part of the Pilot Study was c onducted from June to August 2005, during summer vacation. I visited the family twice a week during this time, mainly to get to know the children and build rapport with the families. Since it was summer, the children did not go to school and did not need tutoring on homework assi gnments. So I took them to the library, where we normally stayed for about two hours. I just le t them pick books to read by themselves for the first hour. During the second hour we either discu ssed some of the books they were reading, or I 57


asked them to write their reactions to the books. Later in the summer, after I had found a Summer Reading Program that was held by the local libraries, they spen t the first hour of our regular visit in that program, each session last ed approximately 45 minutes. For the second hour, we read and wrote reactions, as usual. The staff at the Summer Reading Program enc ouraged the children to read and write by giving them a stamp for reading a book and writing a short description of it. After collecting 8 to 10 stamps, a child would get a free gift. Once the brothers joined the program, they would go find books and come back to ask me if they were good for their levels. Then they would read and write, inspired by the idea of getting more stam ps. On the second visit each week, I mostly focused on reviewing their reading and writing a nd spent a little bit more time teaching Xiao English. Besides this regular schedule, we sometimes went to parks or shopping, which the children enjoyed very much since their parents did not have time to take them to these places. However, we only did this if they had done their readings and writings as they had promised to do. They also came with me to some social occasions during the weekends when they felt bored at home. The summer tutoring helped me to build closer relationships with the families and allowed me to collect my pilot data. In addition, the families started to allow me to enter some family territories such as the office, the employees lo unge in the restaurant, and the dormitory for restaurant employees. I had more chances to talk with the mothers of the boys, and they became more open with me, willing to talk about or share their lives with me. They also seemed to feel more comfortable showing me their living and work ing environments. Mrs. Chen started to join in the conversations when I visited her children in their house and she be gan to talk about her boys with me. Mrs. Wang always came out from th e kitchen to say hello to me with a shy smile, 58


and remembered to bring me a drink when I picked up the boys from the restaurant. We exchanged phone numbers, and either the mother s or the children would call me when they needed help. The pilot study also gave me a chance to prac tice my research skill s. However, the purpose of my study was to explore literacy practices at home, in interac tions with the community, and in the participants literacy culture s. The summer activities were not enough for me to get data on this from a wide variety of environments and s ituations. While the pilot study had helped me to get closer to the family and children, it also made it easier for me to see the points that I needed to work harder on to reach my goal. Now that I ha d built trust with the family, I shifted my focus for my formal data collections to family literacy practices by engaging more deeply in family interactions during intens ive visits. I put forth a special effort to connect and interact with the parents both alone and with the children. Pilot Study was an important st age for me to transform myse lf into an interactional ethnographer. I clarified the desi gn of the study and modified the methods of data collection and analysis. During the pilot study pe riod, in addition to building ra pport with the family, I checked and organized my field notes to understand th e familys historical and relational background. These descriptive data are reported in Chapter 4. Data Sources Data were gathered from multiple sources in order to get a thorough understanding of family literacy culture from different perspectives. These sources were: Interviews (transcribed) Informal conversations (transcribed/summarized) Participant-observations (field notes and reflective journal) 59


An archive made up of artifacts collected from the families (e.g., photos, documents from school, photographs, and other items). Instant messenger (IM) conversations with Sam (Starting in April 2006) Table 3-2 shows further information about the data sources categori zed into transcribed data, researchers documents, and archival data with frequency. The detailed list of each source will be provided as appendixes C-F. The rationales of each of the data sources and the process of collections are explained in the data collection section. Table 3-2. Data sources Data Source Frequency of data collection Transcribed Data Semi-structured Interviews (30-45 min.) Once per individual Total: 6 interviews with family member, 2 interviews with school teachers Recorded Informal Conversations Various, not systematic (1-3 times for Phase I, 1-4 times a month for Phase II) Total: 31 recorded informal visits, 133 audio files Researchers document Researchers Field Notes Various, not systematic. Basically used as supplementary with informal conversations. mainly done in Pilot Study period Researchers Reflective Journal Followed by the intensive visits Artifacts Photos Various Childrens writing from school Various, not systematic IM (Instant Messenger) Conversations Various, as they occurred Starting in April 2006 Data Collection for the Dissertation Study Formal data collection started in Augus t 2005, when a new school year began, and continued until the end of the school year in May 2006, except for the month of December because of the holidays. Informal conversations were tape-recorded st arting in September 2005, when my relationship with the family was getti ng closer and more natura l. This continued till May 2006. 60


Formal interviews were conducted with family members between November and December of 2005 since by this time the family members were comfortable with me and were willing to be interviewed. During this intensive vis it stage, I visited the Chen family two to three times a week from 2 hours to 5 hours each time. Interviews were also conducted with the school teachers during April 2006 towards the end of the school year. I had originally planned to stop collecting data at the end of the school year in early June 2006. However, I found that the family did not fu lly trust me until the end of May 2006. I thus decided to keep in contact with the family but de tached myself from the major family activities. I began to introduce various available resources. For example, I encouraged them to get a computer and an Internet connect ion. I also taught some family members how to use the internet to check flight tickets, and I assisted those who had computers to sign up for an instant messaging (IM) account so they could find me online. No data were collected in June or July, 2006 as I was out of the country in June, and the Chens in July. I continued gathering data between August 2006 and February 2007 on a less intensive basis. I officially chose February 17, 20 07 as a date for closure since it was the Chinese New Years Eve celebration with the big family. After Chinese New Year, I kept casual contact with the family as I continuously did the data analysis. Follow-up interactions occurred periodically until April 2007 but were not reco rded. These interactions provided opportunities for informal member checking, and allowed me to collect supplementary data as confirmation for my preliminary findings. In Table 3-3, I summarize the focus of the data collection process and tasks from the different time periods of the study. 61


Table 3-3. Data collection process Period Data Source and Process Research Tasks March 2005 Pre-study IRB filed Participants recruited Select participants Map community April Aug 2005 Pilot Study Summer reading activities with children Build rapport Collect field Notes Background and context of the study Sep Dec 2005 Intensive visits Phase I Formal interviews with parents and children Informal conversations (recorded) with family members at home and in the restaurant Conduct interviews Collect field Notes Create archive from school work and home activities Jan June 2006 Intensive visits, Phase II Formal interviews with school teachers Informal conversations (recorded) with family members at home and in the restaurant Conduct interviews Collect field Notes Create archive from school work and home activities Aug 2006 Feb 2007 Casual visits Started to detach from major family activities Participant observations Collect Field Notes Confirm primary themes from informal conversations Feb June 2007 On-Call visits Stop informal conversation recording Continue taking field notes Create Archive Analyze data Summarize notes Member check The original design of the study was to conduct two to three se ts of interviews from the family members. However, after the first set of interviews, I found that a formal interview was not the best way to get authentic data from the fa mily. This was especially true for the parents; Mr. and Mrs. Chen were pretty cynical about the situation, and I sensed th ey were answering the questions on a superficial leve l. The informal conversations, on the other hand, seemed more authentic social interactions, despite someti mes resulting in contradictory answers for reoccurring questions. Fortunately, the informal format also provided flexibility for on-going confirmation and clarification. 62


As an interactional ethnographe r, I believe we created meani ng together as I observed the families daily lives and interacted with them in a variety of activities and venues. I did not control of any literacy activities but provided help when asked to do so. In the following sections I describe my process of data collection and beginning understandings for each of the different sources and contexts. Participant-Observation Field Notes Participant-observations started from the beginning of the tutoring and moved to the focus on the summer activities with children as well as their interactions with parents and other family members. I observed all interact ions between family members, family members and friends, as they were available. When I sat waiting for the children to finish thei r lunch or when I gave rides to the children or Mr. and Mrs. Wang, I asked the parents or children various questio ns about their past experiences, their family lives, and parents educational background. These informal interviews were taped-recorded. With my participant obs ervation notes, I aimed to gather background information such as the parents educational ba ckground, literacy habits, a nd their family leisure activities. I also asked the parent s about their attitudes toward thei r childrens education and their understanding of the school culture. I started recording field notes from the first visit. The notes were hand-written during the tutoring/visiting when the members were not intera cting with me. Most of the hand-written notes were taken in the Pilot Study stage when the info rmal conversations were not tape-recorded. The notes basically reported what happe ned, what I saw, and what I t hought as I built trust with the families. Data collected from observations were used to draw a geographical and social map of the family, to illustrate in detail the families ba ckgrounds in the research, and to create patterns 63


and relationships among facts that could further he lp with the design of th e interviews and with the analysis of interview data. Semi-Structured Interviews As Seidman (1998) states, At the root of in-depth interviewing is an interest in understanding the experience of other people and the meaning they make of that experience (p.3). It is my interest to understand the lite racy experiences that new Chinese immigrant families have, and to explore the culture of their literacy experiences. I conducted a semi-structured interview of each of the family members from the two core families, the Chen and the Wang family. The interviews with the parents of the Chen family took place at their house during the afternoons, as it was the off-peak time for the business. I could not interview both of the parents together since they would not leave the restaurant at the same time. They preferred to be interviewed at home because they felt it was quieter and more comfortable. Interviews with the children from the Chen family occurred in the evening after their parents had stopped by for food delivery. The interviews with the members of the Wang family took place at the dormitory the house all the workers share d. The interviews took place late at night when the parents had finished worki ng at the restaurant. Mrs. Wang was home first, and she was nervous about the interview. Thus, I combined her interview with her sons and had both of them answer the same questions by taking turns. By the time Mr. Wang came home, all the other workers were back, too. The house was noisy and bustling. The rest of the family automatically got involved in the interviews and some times helped answer the questions. Finally, I planned to interview the teachers of the three children. I requested interviews with three teachers but only two of the teachers agreed to my request. I went through the official process by sending requests to the school board and received permission to get access to the teachers. I contacted the two teachers who ha d agreed to set up a time after school and 64


interviewed them. One of the thr ee teachers I asked to interview never replied to my contacts. Even when I tried to contact her from the schoo l front desk, I did not ge t any reply and had to give up interviewing the third teacher. My intention for conducting interv iews with teachers was to s ee if the children interacted differently to what they expected from the school perspective. Also I thought it was a good chance to be able to get connected with the ch ildrens teachers and to be the mediator between the school and the family. However, since I did not complete the whole set of the interviews (I spoke with only two of the teachers), and I decide d to focus on data collected directly from the family perspective, I discarded the interview data collected with the teach ers when I started my analysis process. Even so, th e interviews were transcribed and provided me some ideas in coming out with implications for todays teachers and schools. Each of the formal interviews started with an explanation of the pr ocess and a request for their help in discussing the tran scription together, if I needed it. The interviewee chose the language in which the interview was conducted. The interviews with parents were in Chinese. Other interviews were in English. Informal Conversations and Reflective Journal Jorgenson (1989) suggests, more focused observa tions should lead to greater involvement with people in the settings a nd specifically to informal conve rsations and casual questions (p.84). I began to record informal conversations intensively soon afte r the pilot study. These conversations were non-structured and occurr ed casually. Between August 2005 and June 2006, I tried to keep my digital recorder with me whenever I visited the families although not all conversations were recorded due to malfunction of the recorder. Also, some of the visits were un-expected and I did not have my recorder. Whenever I was recording, I hung the recorder around my neck so the family members knew that the recorder was on, but it was not as formal 65


as an interview. These conversations produced valuable data since the families felt more comfortable to chat with me and be themselves. During this period of time, I visited the Chen family two to three times per week. This included the visits on Saturdays to a neighborhood chain bookstore or the restaurant where the Chen brothers would stay in the afternoon. I also visited the Wang family one to two times per week, including the Saturday visi t to the restaurant. I would go to the restaurant around three oclock in the afternoon and stay until about five since it was the off-peak time. The workers would have lunch at this time, so I got the chance to talk to them all. This was also the only time for ALL the family members to be together incl uding the Chen family, the Wang family, and the extended family members. I recorded the conversati ons that occurred there, even though some of the conversations were just random chatter. Afte r the visits, I summarized the conversations and wrote my reflective notes. In addition to summ arizing the visits, I reflected on what happened, what I thought, my confusion, my doubts, and my changes to the process of the study. The informal conversations happened in a mo re casual and authentic way, and I sometimes noticed some inconsistent answers from the fam ily members after I read my reflective notes. I would then try to bring the topics/issues into new conversations to get further clarification and confirmation. Informal conversations with other people in the fam ilys social networks further helped me to understand their social lives and community. Archive Collection Data were put together from the childrens sc hool writings and the fam ilys daily activities such as notes, memos, journals, photo albums, letters, and other personal family records. As Hill (1993) states, (a)rchival data typically help document the na ture and extent of complex networks of interpersonal contact, intellectual influence, fi nancial support, political action, organizational affiliations, and so on (p.61). Ex cept for the childrens school writing and other 66


available printed materials, family notes, photos on the wall, memos on the refrigerators, book shelves, and any printed materi als spread throughout the house we re photographed to be part of the archive. Some photos were taken of the childrens work, the familys living space and social activities with their permission. I also kept a ph one call log that recorded the frequency of phone conversations between Mrs. Chen (the one who called me constantly) and me. Starting from the second year, Sams instant messenger conversations with me were collected and when they were available, with Sams permission. The archival data helped me to understand the fa milys literacy practices in different forms. Even checking the index of the phone conversations it showed that short conversations were the communicative style of the family. The photos pr ovided me data to draw the geographical map of the family and also served as reminders for me and as supplemental material to cross-check with various data sources during the data analysis process. Narratives as Cultural Re presentation of Self The collection and analysis of data are crucial steps in qualitative rese arch. Analysis is an interactive process and should start in the early stages of the rese arch process so that the early data can help confirm research questions and sh ape data collection to pr ovide ways to answer them (Lyons, 2000, Hatch, 2002). The process of data analysis thus starts with forming the purpose and goals of the research; it is grounded in the same beliefs that underlie the whole study and tries to find answers to what the research er wants to explore (C offey & Atkinson, 1996). Hatch (2002) believes that data analysis is a systematic search for meaning, and a way to process qualitative data so that what has to been learned can be communicated to others (p.148). The relationship between analyt ic perspective and methodology plays an important role in qualitative research (Silverman, 1998). Data analysis methods, thus, have to be closely tied to theoretical perspectives to consistently represen t a researchers ways of understanding the truth 67


(Coffey & Atkinson, 1996; Hatch, 2002; Lyons, 2000). Da ta analysis is more than a step-by-step process to deal with data; it should be an accomp animent to the entire research process (Walford, 2001). The process of data analysis, which can be seen as a combination of methodology and method with epistemological and ontological assumptions embedded, involves a particular choice of techniques used to gather and analyze data in order to help bring about the desired outcomes. Narrative analysis, accord ing to Schwandt (2007), refers to a variety of procedures for interpreting the narratives or stories genera ted in research (p. 202). These narratives can include life experiences in different formats such as life histories, interv iews, oral performances, and archives. With intera ctional ethnography as the theoretical framework of this study, narrative analysis here takes a socio-cultural approach and thus goes beyond language structure to broaden interpretive frameworks that people use to make sense of everyday happenings/episodes, usually involving past-present-f uture linking (Grbich, 2007, p. 130). Different from traditional narrative analys is that emphasizes the structure and uses techniques to carry out formal and functional an alyses of narratives (Labov & Waletzky, 2003), I am using narratives as analytical meaning maki ng structures. Mello (200 2) states that the essence of the narrative is ephemeral and persona l, and that We must seek ways to negotiate meanings and findings using the stories of data, varied perceptions of the filed, and out creative work as writers of research discourse (p. 232). As Mello also mentions that narrative is transactional and developmental, it can be se en as a meaning making process itself, because when we share narratives with others, insights and social know ledge evolve (p. 233). From Mellos ideas, narrativ e can function as cognitive and perceptive structure, or cr eate relationships 68


or connections between self, ot hers and environment; it is a pr ocess of social and cultural cohesion. Following an the interactional ethnographical perspective that closely examines face-toface interactions, the socio-cultural approach of narrative analysis is precisely concerned with analyzing ) the complexity and interlocking of various collective affiliations, 2) the native meanings of interactions linked to the social settings in whic h they are embedded, and 3) the construction of person by interactions a nd by appropriated things (Weber, 2001, p.478-479). Through oral and written narrative, humans re-construct meanings from experiences and interactions (Bruner, 1990; Lee, et. al, 2004). Thus, patterns in the narratives can reveal specifics about the nature of a culture. Data Analysis of the Narratives: The Zoom Model Approach The purpose of this study is to examine how li teracy is practiced in working-class, new immigrant Chinese families that had only a basi c educational background in their own country, and also to explore the understanding of literacy that Chinese immigrant families hold on to and pass on through interactions. As Mello (2002) in dicates, organizing, analyzing and discovering theoretical meaning from storie d data can be challenging (p. 233). He concludes that it is suggested to use the natural functions of narrati ves including multiple forms of data analysis. To systematically organize, analyze and discover the meaning of the life stories and experiences from the participan ts, I used Pamphilons zoom model approach which provide different layers of analysis as a framework for data analysis. With the focus of human narratives, the analytical process moves through four zoom le nses that allow the researcher to focus in on the details of the individual stories and out to the big picture of the family culture. 69


The Zoom Model Approach Data collected from participant observations archive collections, and interviews were organized and analyzed by using the Zoom model approach. Because of the mass of data I collected, I did not use a ll data in the findings sections. Howe ver, they were always used to cross-check with each other for clarification and confirmation. As Pamphilon (1999) called, the zoom model approach is a dynamic framework for the analysis of life history. He fu rther explains that the zoom me taphor translates [the] dynamic to the different dimensions within a life history, inviting us to cons ider the particular individual account within its own panorama (p. 393). After the pilot study, where the focus was to understand the familys history and members, I follow the zoom model approach to organize and analyze my findings from different zooms: the macro-zoom, the meso-zoom, the micro-zoom, and finally the interac tional zoom (see Table 3-4). Table 3-4. The Zoom Model MACRO-ZOOM MESO-ZOOM Dominant discourses Narrative process Narrative form Narrative themes MICRO-ZOOM INTERACTIONAL ZOOM Emotions within the narratives Narrations of Transaction Narrations of Reaction *Adapted from Pamphilon, 1999, p.397 The analysis moved through zoom s to see the life stories from different dimensions (shown as figure 3-1): The macro-zoom focuses on the sociocultural collective di mensions of the life history (Pamphilon, 1999, p. 395). Under the macro-le vel analysis the two analytical foci are the dominant discourses, which give evidence of cultural patterns and sh ared discourses, and narrative form, which reveals cultu ral archetypes of the given culture in its overall construction. The meso-level zoom aims to reveal the cultural ly specific processes that impact the family, to 70


71 understand cultural prescriptions, and to consider the composition of narrative that enable relationships of Self with society. The micro-zoom focuse s on the oral dimension of the story, which presents the emotions of the narrators th at demand further consideration. The focus of the micro-level reflects a commitment to maximize, not hold aside, the emotionality and affective complexity of the stories (Pamphilon, 1999, p.396). In the interactional zoom, the researcher takes a totally different perspective to zoom in on his/her own places in the research. S/he examines th e relationship of researcher and researched to reveal the researchers active in terpretative role at every point in the study. Although the stories are told by the participants and collected and in terpreted by the researcher, a transaction occurs between the tellers and the audiences (Bruner, 1990; Pamphilon, 1999). Emotional reactions may also occur during the process of the research. Thus, the transac tions and reactions throughout the research allow the researcher to use self-awareness in order to contextualize the specificity of myself and to transcend it (Okely, 1992). Detailed procedures of data analysis and the connection with each of the zooms are discussed in the following paragraphs. Table 35 provides an overview of the data analysis phases. Table 3-5. Data analysis phases Stage of data analysis Primary Data Used in the Phase Task Outcomes of analysis Phase I Interview Data: Transcripts Macro-zoom of Narrative analysis Cultural Discourses created Phase II Field notes, transcripts of informal conversations, archival data Macro, Meso and Microzoom of Narrative analysis Narrative styles and themes created. Emotions created, integrated themes with interview discourses Phase III Hand-written notes, Reflective journals Interactional-zoom of Narrative analysis Reexamination of the researchers role, final crossed-check with the findings


72 Figure 3-1. Graphic of zoom model approach Emotions within narratives Oral dimension that reflects emotions of narratives Narrative process: Styles of Narrations Narrative themes: Individual stories Individual dimension Narrative Form: Cultural Archetypes Socio-cultural dimension Dominant Discourse: The immigration Researchers transactions and reactions Macro-zoom Meso-zoom Micro-zoom


Phase I: The Macro-Zoom Analysis For this first phase of the zoom analysis, I us ed interview transcripts as primary data. I am looking for the discourses of the family that emerged in the immigran t experiences and the cultural narratives surrounding th em. The following steps helped me to organize the dominant discourse and narrative form: 1. Look across the whole interview for themes or images that connect the interview together and give a certain overall coherence and texture. 2. Sort pieces of data and find patterns of liter acy culture and practices, such as formats of interactions, reading and writing materials, pare nts attitudes, childrens reactions, family beliefs, family activities, etc. 3. Organize the pieces according to immigrant experiences and cultural traditions. 4. Relate and revise the themes and organize the anal ysis into a description of family culture of literacy practices in working-class Chinese immigrant families. The major themes were created in this phase along with sub-themes that illuminate the major cultural Discourse. More detailed evidence s from data sources other than the interview transcription were used to support the themes and sub-themes later. Phase II: The Meso and Micro-Zoom Analysis All data sources including interview transcri pts, summaries and transcripts of informal conversations, field notes, and archiv al data were used in this phase of data analysis. Of these, the narratives from the informal conversations were primary. As Hatch stated, (t)he logi c of the interpretive model parallels that of the inductive models in that pieces are put together in meaningful relation in order to constrict explanations that help readers make sense of whats be ing examined (p. 181). Following Pamphilon (1999), the procedures for processing the narratives are as follows: 1. Listen/transcribe/read the data fo r the sense of the w hole: I listened to all of the informal conversations, summarized and took notes. I also examined all other data including archival data, field notes, and IM conversations. 73


2. Review impressions previously recorded: I reviewed the results from Phases I and II, rethinking themes that I created in this Phase. Then I chose the informal conversations that had related themes to transcribe. 3. Reread data, coding places wher e interpretations are supported or challenged: I reread the data, transcriptions, notes and themes. I put all the themes together and organized them so as to create layers of overarching themes and sub-themes. 4. Draw a draft outline: I tried to draw an outline to show the relationships between the themes and the research questions. 5. Review interpretations with participants: For th ose questions/issues that my participants had different answers to, I took notes and asked the same questions to the participants to get clarifications or to get more information on the differences. 6. Write a revised summary and identify excerpts that support interpretati ons: I kept modifying my interpretations according to emerging themes and sub-themes. In this phase, narrative styles, narrative themes and emotions were created and compared, and then re-examined against the dominant Discourses th at were created in Phase I to cross check the findings from all levels. Phase III: Interactional-Zoom Analysis In the final stage of this model, the primary da ta were the field notes and reflective journals that I had recorded during the vi sits. Similar to the Phase II analysis procedures, the following are the steps that I used with the in teractional-zoom le vel of analysis: 1. Read the data for the sense of the whole: I r ead all hand-written fiel d notes and reflective journals, summarized and took notes. 2. Review impressions previously recorded: I revi ewed the results from Phases I II, and III, reflected and collected my thinking with the discourses and the th emes that I created in this Phase. 3. Reread data, coding places wher e interpretations are supported or challenged: I reread the data, notes and themes. I put all the themes toge ther and organized them into transactions and reactions. In this phase, other than identif ying transactions and reactions of the researcher, all the themes and the sub-themes that were created from Phas e I, II, and III were crossed-checked again to keep track of the connections from the whole study and to start to draw conclusions. 74


Validation In most research methods, validity can be seen as an epistemic criteri on that indicates the findings not only accurately represent the phenomena to which they refer but are also backed by evidence (Creswell & Mill er, 2000; Schwandt, 1997). In other words, validity refers to a qualitative research that is plausible, cr edible, trustworthy, and defensible (Johnson, 1997). Some believe that validity is relative to the standards, concepts, and interactions between interpreters and community, and depends on whos e perspective the account is based on (e.g. Fish, 1980; Maxwell, 1992; Morgan, 1983). Since description and interpreta tion are two primary qualitative activities, it is important for qualitativ e researchers to be more self-aware to monitor and reduce their biases and to establish the cr edibility of the study (C reswell & Miller, 2000; Johnson, 1997; Maxwell, 1992). Angen (2000) prefers the term validation instead of validity to emphasize the way in which a judgment of the trustworthiness or goodness of a piece of rese arch is a continuous process occurring within a community of resear chers (p.387) and further, uses the terms ethnical and substantive validati on as two broad sub-headings for validation. Ethnical validation and substantive validation mainly ask the resear cher to provide practical, generative, possible transformative, and hopefully nondogmatic answers to the questions we pose as researchers, and also to provide a sense of in tuitive self-evidence (Angen, 2000, p.389, 391). Validation, thus, emphasizes the processes of the study, and needs to be considered as integrated with epistemology and methods of analysis (Angen, 2000; Gergen & Gergen, 2000; and Scheurich, 1996). In other words, the resear cher needs to continuously trace his/her own understandings and awareness of the work by pr ocessing understanding from other sources and maintaining a written record of the process. More over, validation should also be integrated with the theoretical framework, data collection, and data analysis. 75


An interactional ethnographic researcher, in an on-going process of validation, should not only be aware of the relationships between self and participants, but should also understand the interactions between participan ts and others. In an ethnographi c study, the researcher describes the dialogue, which consists of multiple, contradictory voices from and between the researcher and the societies s/he is in contact with. As Angrosino (2005) states, th e ethnographic truth has come to be seen as many parts and no one perspective can claim privilege in the representation thereof (p. 731). Purcell-Gates (2004) indicates that triangula tion is required to ensure validation in an ethnogra phic study: Triangulation, in which th e researcher cross-checks among the various data sources and with the part icipants, is an important procedure. Thus, to ensure validation in this study, different kinds of data we re collected in order to provide different insights from pa rticipants in different situati ons and social environments. The length of the study also tends to bu ild a close relationships with th e participants and to keep the interactions and data collections close to the truth. Especially when the pa rticipants had different answers for the same questions, more informal conversations were held to discuss these questions and then crossed-checked with one another. Different fo rms of data related to similar issues were also collected: tape-recorded inform al conversations, field notes and reflective notes could provide different views of the same topic. Moreover, the data collection process was an interactive researcher-participant activity. Besides being an inte rpreter who vividly replays the scene, background, props, and characters to clearl y present the voices of the participants, the researcher explains rationales and interprets stories to expose the transactions and emotions during the research process, incl uding those the researcher shared with the participants in the field. 76


Subjectivity As Glense (1999) suggests, to be aware of s ubjectivities can guide a researcher to monitor his/her own perspectives that mi ght affect the ways s/he analy zes and writes up data. Monitoring subjectivity can help a researcher to learn more about his/her ow n values, attitudes, beliefs, interests, and needs. It makes him/her a human and a researcher, guiding him/her to find his/her perspectives and insights that shape the research, and find a clear topic to emphasize in writing (Glense, 1999; Jansen & Pes hkin, 1992). Although there are so me concerns about personal emotions that the emotions may misrepresent th e perception of a researcher (Smith, 1980); some believe that emotions can help the researcher to identify subjectivity and to enhance the accuracy of an account (Glense, 1999; Jansen & Peshki n, 1992). From the different emotions that a researcher feels, s/he can l earn who s/he really is and what keeps him/her learning. According to Glense (1999), the best way to b ecome aware of subjectivity is to keep notes and engage it in the research. Before sett ing up the study, she suggests that making up an autobiographical account that explains the researchers emotiona l investment in the topic can help a researcher better recognize how the research topic intersects with his/her life. This can be used later to connect or compare with notes. Thus I feel it is important to present my selfexposure before interpreting the family. Chinese-Cultural-Rooted Taiwanese Born and raised in a Taiwanese family, I grew up immersed in traditional Chinese values and beliefs. These beliefs had been passed on through generations from my ancestors, who had immigrated to Taiwan from Fujian province, China a few hundred years ago, to my parents and then to me. The traditional Southern Chinese values and beliefs that my family holds are a mixture of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. In my family, we follow the traditiona l rituals to celebrate 77


the holidays and to worship the an cestors or the spirits. Since my grandparents passed away in early days, my father, as the elde st son of his generation, took ove r their roles in the family and became the head of his five brothers and sisters. Because my father is the head of the extended family, we got to keep the ancestral shrine, wh ich we worship twice a day. All family members come to my family home to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Dragon Boat festival, and midAutumn festival. They also come back to worship our ancestors special day s. I remember how my father insisted that we all needed to go back home for these festivals and family days even when we were out of town studyi ng. We also needed to get toge ther at our family tomb on the Tomb-sweeping Day. Even now, my father is taking care of his brothe rs, sisters and their families. Interestingly, my elder brother, as th e eldest son of my generation, almost plays the same role as my father. All our cousins call him gege (means elde r brother) as if he was a real brother and discuss any big family decisions with him seriously. To me, he plays the roles of father and brother, and he feels it is part of his responsibility to take care of me. Growing up with those cultural beliefs, we ch ildren were taught to be obedient, wellbehaved, and to do our best to honor the family. I learned that to be a child, I could only listen but should not question. I learned not to argue with teachers in school, but should be good in academic subjects in order to make my fam ily proud. When I was younger, I doubted if my parents loved me because they had seldom praise d me or told me they loved me. I gradually understood that they loved me very much without speech but with actions. They provided me all the support I needed without telling me. This is in Chinese culture the implicit culture. Middle-Class Mainstreamer (Townsperson) Although my family is culturally traditional, middle-class values and beliefs have also influenced my ways of living and communication. My grandfather was a medical doctor. At that time, Taiwan was occupied by the Japanese gove rnment. Oppressed by the colonists, only those 78


Taiwanese from upper-middle class families could afford education, and only those who were excelled in schools could compete with the Japanese and be accepted to universities. Thus, after he finished his medical training, he became the first and only doctor in a small village near Taipei, the capital. Being a doctor meant being on top of the social pyramid. I heard stories about how my father was treated like a prince in town when he was little. Even after my grandfather passed away, my grandmother insisted that all si x children be educated. This did not only mean school education was valued in my family; ma nners were seriously stressed, first under my grandmothers supervision, and then by my parents. Both of my parents were highl y educated. As I grew up, the pressure of keeping the good traditions of the family has followed me around. My father may not remember which class I was in, but would never forget a test day and the report card day. My mother, on the other hand, cared more about our manners. Even though both of my parents were working, my Mom would come home to cook after she got off work. My Dad would come home later right before dinner time. We children had to sit at the dining table to wait for all family members to sit down. We could not start eating before my father started eating. My mother made sure we dressed neatly and were clean when we went out. She made sure we greeted family guests calling them uncles or aunts when they came to visit us We needed to let our parents know where we were going, when we were coming home, and with whom we were going out. Communication was encouraged in my family. Though we were asked to sit still at the dining table, we were expected to share what happened in school with my parents. We discussed big decisions with our parents before making th em, asked for opinions a bout our lives, and got support for making changes. Reading was also highl y encouraged in my family. While libraries were not as popular as today when I was little, reading in bookstores was one of our regular 79


weekend activities. My mom, my brother and I could stay in a bookstore for the whole day, sitting on the floor reading all kinds of books until my dad finished his business meeting and came to pick us up. When I did not have a ny allowance in my childhood, my parents never declined my request to buy books. Although overt emotional expression was not na tural in my family, through reading, daily sharing at the dinner table and the encouragement of communicat ive relationships, my parents have been getting more open over the years. After I graduated from high school, I started to train my parents to accept overt expressions of emotion. We star ted to take equal roles arguing and negotiating and were not pa rents-children anymore. American Experiences As a Chinese-Taiwanese from a mainstream mi ddle-class family, my position changed to a minority, ESL student when I moved into a new society in the United States. Using a language that is not my native tongue to live in a society with unfamiliar culture was not easy. As an active, aggressive student in Taiwanes e, I was always talkative and energetic in classrooms and among peers. However, on entering the new society as a non-native English sp eaker, I had to listen carefully before I could react in classroom and ne eded to think twice before I could join casual conversations. This was not the only cultural difference I not iced. When people were telling a joke, even if I understood every word in the content, I could not understand the context and did not know what was funny. After living in the US and making some En glish-speaking friends, I soon learned more than English. For example, in add ition to jokes, I learned that it is not polite to ask about a persons salary, age or political positions. I learned that it was not polite to say pissed off in a formal presentation, even though I heard people saying it all the time. 80


In addition to my experience as an internati onal student myself, my brothers family has settled in the US and provided me with first-ha nd information about children in a new immigrant family. I thought it was hard for me to get into the mainstream culture because I was not born in the US. However, my nieces were born and st arted schooling in the US, and my experiences interacting with them, as well as discussions with my brother and sister-in-law, made me realize the difficulties that minority ch ildren have to face in the Amer ican society. Even though my nieces were born in the United States and had no problems in learning, they still struggled in interactions with others becau se of cultural differences. The children werent the only ones who had to st ruggle; the parents had to struggle to help the children adapt to the American mainstream socio-cultural value system, while maintaining their Taiwanese cultural identities. This pe rsonal experience, along with my educational background in TESL and my interests in family lit eracy, led to my intere st in observing and learning about new immigrant families. These American experiences had forced me to keep examining my beliefs and my understanding of being a Taiwanese while getting more and more i nvolved in living in the US. It also made me become more sensitiv e to observing cultural differences. Limitations In addition to the interpretative and the methodological limitations that I am going to further discuss in this sec tion, there are limitations involvi ng the context of the study and regarding the design of the study: My entering the family was not a natural situa tion in that my role in their culture was not natural. What I have observed may have been different without me there. The study started from free tutoring thus even though I had established a closer relationship with the family members along the way, they treated me as a professional and called me Hsieh Laoshi (Teacher Hsieh), whic h may have resulted in unequal interactive patterns. 81


Even though the extended family contains 10 people and two core families, the small number of participant families of this study may minimize the potential to generalize the results. However, the particular population a nd the findings may lead to further inquiries that include more diverse groups and families. Interpretive Limitations: Th e Self and the Other Qualitative researchers interpret data with the belief that the researchers are the ones who produce meanings from data and make sense of meaning by means of the interpretive method they use to analyze it. Denzin (1994) claims that, In a social science, there is only interpretation (p.500, cited in Hatch, 2002, p.179). But qualitative researchers are constantly making interpretive judgments. Since interpre tations are constructed by researchers (Hatch, 2002), the subjectivity of the researcher may influe nce the view of the res earch since the process of internalization is sometim es subjective and resistant to interpretation. Although as an interactional ethnographic researcher, I tried to understand the whole story behind the situated meaning in order to interpret the participants st ories in a way that repr esents the truth, and carefully consider when I was describing my position and when interpre ting, the who I am still has impact on interpreting the data. My cultural roots helped me to be familiar with my participants who originally were from a province in southern China where my ancestors had come from. As a Taiwanese woman with roots in Chinese culture, I am a cultural insi der of the participant family which gave me opportunities to be close to them. Speaking the same language, Mandarin Chinese, also made it easier for me to gain access to family contexts and to chat with each of the family members. However, I come from an upper middle-class fam ily in Taiwan. I did not realize that some values and beliefs I had internalized as my Chine se cultural beliefs, were in fact influenced by my family culture, which had a townspeoples perspective, rather th an the broader Chinese culture. In the beginning of the study, this became problematic for me in interactions with the 82


participant families and in interpreting the cultur al discourses. Along with the interactions with the families, I kept examining my own socio-cu ltural background and tried to think from the families perspectives. The more I understood the background and the experiences that the family members had gone through the more could I use a different lens to interpret the deep meanings of their Discourses. Methodological Limitations Including naturally occurring texts, whic h include talk, written texts, nonverbal interactions, and any other social language or day-to-day activities as data, and deciding which of these texts to use is not a simple task in and of itself. Complicating the matter further, transcriptions from oral texts to written text s can also be problematic (Mishler, 2003). Mishler argues that a problematic relation exists betw een reality and repres entation, and between meaning and language. Since different choices in transcribing will create constructions of different worlds, different transcripts are designed to fit di fferent particular theoretical assumptions. For this reason, data transcrip tion issues should be taken seriously: our constructions and making them is one of our cen tral research practices (Mishler, 2003, p. 317). Finally, it is difficult to conduct a naturally occurring interaction as a research interview and yet this is where much of my useful came from. Translation issues can be probl ematic too. As a researcher who speaks Mandarin Chinese, I tried to translate the transcriptions verbatim. Howe ver, some of the texts could not be translated without bringing in cultu ral understanding and contexts. I modifi ed the translation in order to make sense in English logic. This might loss some linguistic meanings but would be more authentic in cultural contexts. As for the data collection pro cess, in order to ensure the validation of the study, different data sources were collected and analyzed. Howe ver, in ethnographic res earch, the researchers 83


84 neutrality is often difficult to maintain since large amounts of various forms of data are time consuming and the process of data collection and analysis can be complicated (Grbich, 2007). This results in inevitable choice of materials to actually use, introducing a potential source of bias. There is also a potential limitation created by taking a socio-cultural approach to narrative analysis in this study. While the zoom model appr oach provides a systematic way to interpret and analyze data, the perspective may be limited since it focuses more on broader interpretive frameworks rather than the narrow plots or structures of the participants narratives. Preview of the Discussions In Chapter 4, with a focus on introducing th e context and background of the study, I begin the report by presenting the historical and geogr aphical picture of the family and by discussing the descriptive data I collected from the restaurant family. Starting from Chapter 5, data are analyzed and presented following the four levels of the zoom model approach, one level per chapter. The macro-level of analysis presented in Chapter 5 focuses on the socio-cultural dimensions of the st ories; it corresponds to Ph ase I of data analysis. In this chapter I discuss the dominant discourse of immigrant experience and cultural archetypes as narrative forms. The meso-level of analysis presented in Chap ter 6 concerns the indi vidual process of the participants stories. This includes their styles of narration and the individual narrative themes. In the micro-level of analysis in Chapter 7, I exam ine the emotions in the oral dimensions of the stories. These two chapters correspon d to Phase II of the data analysis. The interactional-level of analysis in Chapter 8 consists of my reflecti ons in order to check my own place in the whole process of the study. This corresponds to Phase III of my data analysis as listed in Table 3-5.


CHAPTER 4 THE CONTEXT: BACKGROUND OF THE RESTAURANT FAMILY To fully understand a story, it is important to first meet the charact ers and understand the setting of the story. This story is about a fam ily and its extended family members. The story starts with the Chens. The head of the family, Mr. Chen, started a restaurant, which is the setting. His family, also called the owners family was the main focus of the study. The extended family, who also work at the restuarant, include s the Wang family. They, and other relatives of Mrs. Chen, were the workers family. My focus was to study the culture of family literacy practices, and social interactions can be crucial elements of literacy practices. As stated for several times before, literacy is an interactive tool that all members of the family use in order to navigate through the social world, construct m eaning, display identity, and accomplish social goals (Berger and Luckman, 1967; Cook-Gumper z, 1986; Gee, 1996; Gee, 2001; Heath, 1983; Rogers, 2002; Orellana et al, 2003; Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines, 1988; Wasik & Herrmann, 2004). For this reason, the relationships and the ways the family members interact with one another can be seen as part of their literacy practices. In this chapter, I will introduce this extende d restaurant family. I use hand-written field notes and reflective notes as primary data to illuminate the background and the lives of the family and its members. We will see the familys past and present as I describe first the history and the structure of the family and then their new structure as a restauran t family. Next, I will describe the restaurant, the center of family living. A brief introduction to each family member will provide readers a better understanding of this family. The Family: the Past and the Present The restaurant family in this study was a family of new immigrants. They had an American Dream, believing that they could all have better lives in the new land, and could also bring 85


fortune to the whole family, either in the new land or in their hometown. This dream was the motivation that made them move from a fishing v illage in China to the U.S., first to New York City, then to different other pl aces where they could work, and finally to a University town, where they settled. The family members reunited one by one in the new land to work together in the restaurant for the same goal: A better future. For this goal, they all needed to play their roles well. Follow the Trend to Move from China to the United States The Southeastern Chinese have a long histor y of moving overseas to improve their lives. Throughout history, the Chinese people have suffer ed from wars, natural disasters and famines. Thus, a lot of Chinese sought to emigrate overseas where they could earn more money in order to provide a better life for their families. People from provinces on the southeast seashore of China, like Canton and Fujian, are the ones in Chinese history known for having a large population shift overseas. These coastal villagers immigrated to the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vi etnam in early years, and late r extended to the rest of the world. In early Chinese American immigrant history, numerous Cantonese and Fujianese immigrants settled in San Francisco, Boston, Ne w York City, and Chicago. Chinatowns existed in these cities as early as th e eighteenth century (Dictionary of American History, 1996; Wepman, 2002). The participating family was originally from Changle (pronounced Chang-Le), a village in northern Fujian near Fuzhou. Fuzhou is the capital of the Fujian province in southeast China and is located just across the strait from Taiwan. Ch angle is like many of th e other villages near Fuzhou that have a long tradition of men going abroad to make money and women taking care of the children and the elderly at home (Fu, 2003, p. 1). People from this area in China seek to move overseas because of the limited working oppor tunities. Most of the Fuzhou people come to 86


87 the U.S. to start their lives in big cities such as New York City, where the Fuzhou people make up one of the largest populati ons in Chinatown (Fu, 2003). According to Mrs. Chen, the way they entered the U.S. was to find an agent who could get them out of China. When they arrived in the U.S. (normally in San Francisco), the adults and the children would be sent to different hospices. Th en someone here needed to pay a certain amount of money and to endorse them. The first one in the family needed to take the biggest risk since they had to trust hometown neighbors or family frie nds to get them out of the hospice. After that, they could endorse their own family members. From a Fishing Village in China to a University Town in the US Mr. Chen was the first member of the family to be smuggled into the U.S. and started working in 1992. As the pioneer of the family, he arrived in New York City in the very beginning like most of his old neighbors. Without connections, most newcomers stayed in New York with very bad living conditions (F u, 2003). Soon after Mr. Chen discovered the competitive work situation and the bad living cond itions in New York Chinatown, he decided to move out and get a job in a southeastern state. After he had worked for a few years and saved enough money, he got his wife out of China. She arrived in the States in 1996. It took them another three years to get th eir first son out of China in 1999. From 1996 to 2001, they had worked as chefs, waiter/waitress, laborers, and co -owners of a restaurant. Mr. Chen could not run his own restaurant because he was undocumented until Mrs. Chen won an immigration case in the court to get legal status in 2001. Soon after they had legal status and had sa ved enough money, Mr. Chen decided to start a restaurant of his own. He rented an apartment in a big city in a southe rn state and started


88 Figure 4-1. Timeline of the family me mbers arrivals and departures Sam Chen was born in China Jane Zhao (Mrs. Chen) arrived in the US 92 94 93 96 95 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 Wang (Sens father) arrived and worked in Missouri Zhiyong (Mr.) Wang arrived Tim Chen was born and sent b ack to China Sam Chen arrived in the US Sue Lin married Ken Zhao and moved to the Ken Zhao arrived in the US Sen Wang and mother arrived in the US Xiao Wang and mother arrived in the US Sue and Kens son was born and sent back to China John (Mr.) Chen arrived in the US Tim Chen arrived in the US


searching for a new place where the whole family could settle. He drove around the city and the surrounding area, looking for possibl e spots. Instead of targeting the big cities, Mr. Chen was looking for a small town so they could have a simple life. Eventually he came upon Codileton2 5 hours driving distance from the big city, and ma de his decision to buy a Chinese restaurant in this University town in 2001. After they got settled with their life and their business, they started to have the ability to bring more relatives over. First they brought thei r second son over. The Chen family was finally reunited after 10 years. Since they had just started a new business, they needed more workers. Since Mrs. Chen was the first one in her original family to settle in the United States, she was responsible for helping other re latives move to the United States. One by one, Mrs. Chens family members came to live and work with th e Chen family. They brought daughters of her second brother, the son of her first brother, he r sisters, and other nephews and nieces to the United States (See Figure 4-1 for the timeline that shows big events of the family). The Restaurant Community The center of the restaurant community was Mrs. Chen. Figure 4-2 shows Mrs. Chens family tree which indicates the relationships between all the family members. Zhiyong Wang, Mrs. Chens brother-in-law, wa s the first helper brought to th e restaurant. Ken Zhao, Mrs. Chens Nephew was next. Then Sen Wang, another nephew of Mrs. Chen, came to join to the restaurant business. As the owner of the restaura nt, Mr. Chen rented an apartment close to the restaurant for the workers to live. As more and more relatives/full-time workers came, he decided to buy a house for them in 2004. That became a dormitory for everyone, including other full-time workers, who were not immediate family. Later, Kens wife, Sue Lin, Mrs. Wang 2 The name of the university town is pseudonyms too. 89


90 and her son came to live in the dormitory, and their small community in the University town had formed centering the restaurant business. Living in a University town in the U.S. with no other ethnic social connections was totally different from the families lives in the village in China. Financially they earned much more than the money they could earn in the fishing villag e. As Mrs. Wang said, the amount of money her husband could earn from working in the restaurant for a month would be triple to what they could earn in their hometown. This caused ch anges in their traditional living style. Since it cost a lot of money and effort to ge t one out of China, all of the family members had their assigned roles in this new form of fa mily and needed to contribute to the family business. Even for the women, who only took care of the children at home, needed to work in order to save money faster to pay for the loan that they had paid th e agent, and also to bring more family members out. The business schedule, language barrier and the small community limited their social lives. The restaurant business ran all y ear long. The workers could only take turns to take off one day a week. They had to use this day to do the laundry out of the house (there was no laundry room in the house) or go shopping for their daily supplies. They could not offer any time nor get partners to play Mahjong (a traditional Chinese board game) as they did in China, since everyone had different days off. Moreover, except for the Chen family, the rest of the family members (the workers) did not have legal status so they could not get drivers licenses, which restricted their mobility.


91 Not in the university town In the university town Xiao Wang Zhongming Zhao Zhonghe (Ken) Zhao Xiujuan (Sue) Li Mei Wang Sen Wang Ai Chong (Sam) Chen Ting (Tim) Chen China Other state in the US Arrived 2005/12 Moved to other state Au g ust 06 China China Wang Zhiyong (Mr.) Wang Maoping (Mr.) Chen Biyu Zhao Biqin Zhao (Mrs. Wang) Biqiu Zhao (Mrs. Chen) China Other state in US China China Jianan Zhao China [The Zhao] grandparents (Deceased 2005/12) Figure 4-2. Family tree


All the members of the family had different ro les in the restaurant. For example, Mr. Chen was the laoban (Mr. boss). Mrs. Chen, the younge st sister of her family, became the laoban niang (Mrs. boss) in the restau rant. Their relationships more th an brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, or cousins; they were also co workers, employees, and employers. The social community had shrunk from the whole village to a restaurant. The Restaurant The restaurant provided dining, bu ffet, take-out, and delivery se rvice. It opened at around 10:30 in the morning and closed at around 10:30 at night. Out of 365 days in a year, the restaurant was only closed on Thanksgiving Day. Ev en when some other local restaurants closed for the Universitys Winter Break, th e restaurant did not shut its door. The Restaurant in a University Town Life in Codileton typically follows the Un iversity schedule. About 65,000 of the total 121,000 residents of the town are students and faculty (Estimated by BEBR, 2007, according to city official website). Other people in the town work mostly for the University. Some of the stores close in summer since not many students are in town, but the restaurant never takes a break. Their lives depended on the University tow n, but the family had little to do with college life. Even if the restaurant business followed the Un iversity schedule, they were very distanced from it. They knew about the schedule only for pr edicting the peak and off-peak seasons of the business. During the football season they needed to check the game schedule, although the restaurant family were not fans of the University team, because a game day on Saturday could be bad for the Chinese restaurant business. Once Sam, a 7th grader, complained to me that, I dont understand why people in this town are all crazy about football, I can care less! They also knew that midterm and final weeks would be the peak seasons for delivery and take-out. Part-time 92


student workers came and went. They had to post a help wanted ad whenever the semester ended. When I chatted with Mr. Chen, he would ta lk about political issu es in Taiwan but not about anything happening in the University town. In a way, they were cultural outsiders in their town. The Restaurant as the Center of the Family All the family members had to ad just their living styles to fit to the restaurant business, no matter if they are owners or workers, young or ol d: The business greatly influenced their living habits and lives. The workers a rranged their days off depending on the restaurant schedule. The owners could only run their erra nds during the off-peak hours, nor mally between 3 to 5 oclock in the afternoon. They ate lunch at 3pm and di nner at 10pm. They seldom planed trips ahead because they never know what they would need to do for the business. They all had an understanding that they depended on the restaurant business for their jobs, a stable life, and living expenses. The restaurant and its business thus were the primary concern of their lives. Because the restaurant was the foundation of the family, it also became a family social center. A table close to the serv ice area served as a family tabl e, where all the family members sat to rest or stopped to chat. Th e children had dinner here when they went to the restaurant. Mr. and Mrs. Chen calculated the wo rkers salaries here. Ken and Sue counted their tips here. Mr. Wang and Sen sat here to chat with the others wh en the restaurant was not too busy and they did not have to stay in the kitchen. I knew where to find the family members when I went to visit them in the restaurant, this was the pl ace I could meet and chat with them. The Core Family: The Owners and the House The Chen family (See Table 4-1) was the first family I met for the study. I first met with Mr. Chen when I visited the restaurant to recruit my participants. Since the Chen family was also the owners family, they had more flexibility a nd freedom for talk and connections. I had more 93


opportunity to contact them and had more intera ctions with them. The Chen family became the core family of the study. The Chen Family Table 4-1. The Chen family Role of the family Name Age* Role outside of the family Father John (Maoping) Chen 40 Owner (Laoban) Mother Jane (Biqiu) Zhao 37 Owners wife (Laoban niang) Son Sam (Chong) Chen 15 8th grade middle school student Son Tim (Tin) Chen 10 5th grade elementary school student *age in 2007 The Chen family lived 7 miles away from the restaurant. Since Mr. and Mrs. Chen were the only two in the whole families who had drivers licenses, Mr. Chen purposely chose to live in place that was located in a well-managed commun ity with an award-winning school zone and was not too close to the restau rant. Although it was not too convenient for the parents, they believed it was better for the children to have a lif e that could be different from the restaurant lives. John (Maoping) Chen, the laoban (Mr. boss) Mr. Chen was the first one I contacted when I vi sited the restaurant a nd volunteered to be a tutor. He was encouraged by a female Chinese ca shier to allow me into his house. We made an appointment to meet at the restaurant, and then he would lead me to his house. However, when I went to meet with him on the day we had ag reed upon, he was not there. I asked a woman cashier about John (Mr. Chen), and the woman looke d at me suspiciously. At the time, I did not know that he was the owner, and that the woman was his wife. She called Mr. Chen and told me the direction to the house where I first met with the children. For the first few times when I tutored the children in the afternoon, he was home watching TV but did not talk much to me. 94


After I met with his wife, he did not interact w ith me much. He left hi s wife to deal with things related to family and children. As the h ead of the family and the restaurant, Mr. Chen seemed cautious and suspicious of others. He was suspicious in order to protect his family. He was cautious because he knew he had workers who were not family and he needed to play his role as a fair employer. Thus he purposely distan ced himself from his rela tives in the restaurant. Since he was the manager, he did not have a sp ecific duty in the restaurant, but he needed to take over deliveries when there were not e nough workers. When he was not out on a delivery, he walked around the restaurant to make sure everything was under control. Other times he stayed outside of the restaurant talking on hi s cell phone. All of the workers, including the relatives, understood that Mr. Chen had full contro l of the restaurant. The way they called him laoban (means boss), instead of u ncle or brother-in-law, showed his status as an employer. Mr. Chen seemed unfriendly and suspicious of most people, but was polite to me from the beginning. We only nodded to each other when I visite d the family or the restaurant but did not chat much. That was not too surprising since usually Chinese men do not see women as talking partners. After visiting the family for about a year, I accompanied Mr. Chen to attend a school meeting for Tim. Starting then, he would tell me his beliefs and expectations for his sons education. He also started to chat more and disc ussed some Taiwanese polit ical issues with me. It seemed like he saw me differently, not just a woman but a professional who could be a talking partner. Jane (Biqiu) Zhao3, Mrs. Chen, the laoban niang (Mrs. Boss) I did not meet with Mrs. Chen the first few tim es I went to tutor the brothers since she was always at the restaurant. One day she stayed home on purpose to talk to me, and that started our 3 Chinese women do not have to change their last name after they get married. But normally they are still called as Mrs. (Husbands last name). 95


interaction. She was really polite and nice to me in the beginning, but seemed to be keeping her distance from me. She left her ce ll phone number with me so we could keep in touch but I could sense the relationship between us was more like customer and clerk back then. During the pilot study stage, Mrs. Chen men tioned that the children had stayed with a Taiwanese family in a summer. It happened to be an old acquaintance of mine, Mrs. Yang. Mrs. Yang was a leader of the Taiwanese community, a nd the principle of an overseas Chinese school where I used to work. I talked to Mrs. Yang and she was excited to meet with me and the family. After I was introduced again to the family by Mrs. Yang, Mrs. Chen noticeably changed her attitude towards me. She trusted Mrs. Yang and so we started to build up a friendship. Our conversations related to children and to pe rsonal issues such as marriage, life, family and even clothes. She told me stories about being a youngest sister who was spoiled by her mother. She told me how she married Mr. Chen. She complained to me about how tired she felt working and taking care of the family. She gradua lly accepted me as another family member to share life with and to ask for help with things like booking tickets for family members, checking English documents, accompanying her to see a doctor, or even ju st asking for opinions. She would call me if I had not stopped by to visit the restaurant or the family, and would keep asking me if I wanted some food from the restaurant. Although a lot of cultural traditi ons were no longer kept afte r the Cultural Revolution in China, it seemed like Mrs Chen still followed th em. When she told me the story about how her marriage was arranged by the family, she tried to convince me that it was better for a woman to get a husband and a family. She was also proud of having two sons and she told me they still believed that boys were more valuable than gi rls. She did not quite understand what I was doing 96


as an old student or a researcher, but she woul d greet me, remind me not to stay up too late, or work too much. She showed her care for me and treated me as her younger sister. Sam (Chong) Chen Sam was born in China. He stayed with his mo ther after his father left to go to the U.S. when he was 2 months old. After his mother went to the U.S. when he was 4 years old, he lived in China with his grandparents until he was 7. Sa m finished kindergarten and first grade when he was living with his grandparents. He moved to th e U.S. in the middle of his second grade year, but his parents wanted him to start over in order to learn English well. Thus, he began first grade at the age of eight in a southern state where his parents worked at that time, and moved to this small college town in 2001 to enroll in the third grade. This is the reas on he is two years older than his peers in school. He has a Chinese name Chong, but he asks people to call him Sam. Even his parents call him by his English name instead of his Chinese name. Sam is a smart and neat boy. He is more i ndependent and dominating compared with his younger brother. He is in charge of the house wh en the parents are not around that he likes to take control of things. There, he has a clearly defined territory for himself and does not allow his younger brother to touch those things he sees as his belongings such as the computer in the study room and his bed in the bedroom. Even when his older cousin, Xiao, temporarily stayed with the brothers, he took control and gave orders that he expected Xiao to follow. Sam cared about school work very much and was always telling me about how he was doing in school. He was also more aggressive in getting what he believed he needed. For example, he asked his mother to hire a priv ate tutor for him to help with his homework assignments and prepare for tests. He would contact me continuously to help him with school projects, or to take him to school activities or other events. 97


Sam loved art a lot. He convinced his mother to send him to an art class on Saturdays. He was always showing me his drawings and was very proud of his wor k. He told me that he wanted to be a game designer in the future, which combin ed his interest in on-lin e games and his passion for drawing. He was a homebody who could live w ith his computer and rarely leave the house after the school. Tim (Ting) Chen Tim was born in the United States. When he wa s 4 months old, he was sent back to China to live with his grandparents. He re-joined the family in the U.S. when he was 4 years old. He started his education in the U.S. from kindergar ten. Since he was born in the U.S., the parents chose a Chinese name that was pronounced like an English name. Tim was seen and treated as a little baby in the family. He was short and chubby, just the image of a cute little boy. Since he was sepa rated from his parents in his babyhood, they felt guilty, especially his mother, and tried to accomm odate his needs as much as possible. Tim had the characteristics of a youngest child in the fa mily he was sweet and he liked to spend time with his parents. Even the relatives and the restau rant workers liked to tease him and to play with him. He liked to interact with peopl e. He would beg his father to let him go to the restaurant or to go with him on deliveries. When in the restaura nt, he would interact with the relatives, the workers, and sometimes even with the custom ers. He was more curious and adventurous compared to his elder brother. When asked where he would like to go, he reacted with excitement to any possible activities. After school, he liked to ride his bike in the backyard of the house to have his little adventures. He wanted to have company, but he on ly had his adventures alone. 98


Being a youngest child in the family was a pr ivilege for Tim. After Sam started his art classes on Saturdays, Tim cried for piano classes that were offered in the same Art School. Soon Mrs. Chen bought a piano for him but he did no t practice it much at home. He argued with his parents because he was not allowed to ride his bi ke to school like his olde r brother. At the same time, he refused the responsibilities that the family asked him to share, such as the family chores, saying that he was too little to take the responsibilities He did not take sch ool work as seriously as his brother. He would not complete his assi gnments without pushing or reminders. He hid his report cards from his parents and being the bab y was his excuse for his poor performance in school. The House The house that the Chen family own and live in is a new house with a master bedroom and a small room in one wing, and two other bedrooms in the other wing. In between are the family room, living room, dining room, and kitchen. Figure 4-2 shows the floor plan of the house. All the middle areas are fully furnished. When I first visited the family in April 2005, out of the four bedrooms, only the master bedroom was fully furn ished with a king-size bed, some book shelves, drawers, and an entertainment center. Although Sam did not like to share a room w ith his younger brother, he had no choice at the time. The bothers shared one of the two rooms in the wing opposite the master bedroom. They slept on bunk beds with no bedding sheets on them. Besides the bunk beds, there was a desk for Tim, some toys, and clothes spread out on the floor and in the closet. Overall, the room looked empty. When Xiao arrived in April 2005, he took th e other bedroom across from the brothers room. In that room there was a full-size bed cove red with a plastic cover, but with no bedding at all. The bed and a desk were the only furniture in that room. Xiao used the bed without even 99

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tearing the plastic cover off and just brought a co mforter and a pillow. He stayed there for the first summer with the Chen family. Then, he mo ved to the dorm to be with his parents when school began in August. Later in December, Jianan, a newly arrived cous in, took the same room that Xiao had used. He only stayed for a few months and then moved to New York City to be with his sisters. After Jianan moved out, Sam was finally able to move to that room. He took the plastic wrap off, but there were still no sheets on the bed. The small room by the master bedroom was furnished only with one study table and a broken computer; there were no chairs at all. Some books and notebooks we re on the shelves or on the table. Toys and games were scattered on the floor. Sam claimed that this was his study room but never studied there. Ev en so, Tim was not allowed to enter either Sams study room or his bedroom once the boys had separate bedrooms. The dining room was on the left side of the front door and was the first thing I noticed when I visited the family. A long, deluxe dining table with china vases and crystal glasses on it was under a chandelier. The table was surrounded by a set of eight antique looking chairs. This was the place where the brothers were tutored for the first few months. Living room is a large open space in the house where Tim stays the most of the time. When Mr. Chen comes home, Tim moves to dining ar ea and leaves the TV to Mr. Chens control. A big television set was the main furniture in the family room. When Tim is home, he always keeps the TV on. A few months after my first vi sit, Mr. Chen bought a new sofa set and replaced the carpet. 100

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Figure 4-3. The Chens house The dining area where the family usually at e looked more like a hallway between the family living room and the kitchen. I saw restaurant take-out boxes on the plain-styled dining table all the time. There were some chairs around the table, but the brothers always complained that those chairs were broken. On ce I had built a closer relationship with the family (after a few months), we stopped using the guest dining room and mostly chatte d or worked in this family dining room, or even in the kitchen. The kitchen was fully-furnished with a door that connected with the laundry room, and led to the garage. bedroom bath bedroom Garage Master bedroom Closet & bath bedroom compute r Kitchen 1/2 bath Laundry Piano Dining Room Family Room Front Door Living Room 101

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The living room, located at the end of the entr ance hall way, was furnished as an office. It was equipped with an oak office desk and a whol e set of computer desks and a computer. The boys seldom touched the oak office desk, which had piles of bills and restaurant order forms on it all the time. However, the other desk with a computer, printer, and a big flat-screen monitor was Sams territory. When Mr. Chen was not home, the area was totally under Sams control. Sam used the computer all the time a nd did not allow Tim to touch it. The Community: The Workers and the Dormitory I call the whole family the restaurant family wi th the Chen family at the center; they held the power and other family members depend on them. The workers family lived separately from the owners. The workers, including the Wa ng family, the young couple Ken and Sue, and another family member Sen, all lived together and shared a house with four Mexicans who also worked at the restaurant. These people worked to gether and lived together in a house that was 5 minutes walking distance to the restaurant. Different to the owner family, their lack of mobility and the language barriers limited their lives to an area within walking distance of the restaurant. So the workers of the restaurant all shared the dormitory and became each others only social community. The Wang Family Mr. Wang was the first one to move to the U.S. in around 2001. Xiao and Mrs. Wang arrived in April of 2005. During that summer, thei r son, Xiao, was sent to live with his cousins Sam and Tim. Xiao had a younger sister in China but the family did not have enough money to bring her out with them so she was left be hind. Table 4-2 showed the members of the Wang family. 102

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Table 4-2. The Wang family Role in the family Name Age*Role in the Restaurant Father Zhiyong Wang 42 Chef Mother Biqin Zhao 39 Buffet table server Son Xiao Wang 17 9th grade ESL student in high school Daughter Ai Wang (in China) *age in 2007 Zhiyong Wang and Biqin Zhao (Mrs. Wang) Mr. Wang worked as a chef in the restaurant I hardly saw him at the beginning of the study. Mr. Wang liked to wear a hat when he work ed. He was strong and short and spoke with a loud and clear voice. Mrs. Wang was Mrs. Chens elder sister. She did not work in China so it was a new experience for her to work in the restaurant. Both Mr. and Mrs. Wang treated me as a teacher and showed the proper respect. They always told me to be more stri ct with their son. Although both of them were warm and nice to me, they did not have time to chat with me often. Whenever I visited them in the restaurant, Mr. Wang was busy in the kitchen, and Mrs. Wang was busy checking the buffet serving tables. I started to have a closer relationship with Mrs. Wang wh en I took Xiao to school and needed one of Xiaos parents to be present with me. I had several chances to chat with her when we were sitting by the school board office waiting for Xiao to take an ESL test in middle school, or at the hospital where Xiao need ed to get a certificate of healt h. She told me that her life in China was much better and relaxing. Back there, she played Mah-jong with her neighbors and friends whenever she wanted. Her parents-in-law also took care of the children. Since she was a house-wife there, she had more social activitie s and showed an intere st in attending some activities in town. So, I contacted local Chinese Church and brought her to the church. However, 103

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after the first visit, she told me she needed to wo rk late at night so she could not get up early for the worship service. Mrs. Wang worried about her son a lot. She as ked me to check on Xiao whenever I visited the restaurant. When Xiao starte d attending school, he registered late and could not ride the school bus for a few weeks. Mrs. Wang took h im to school by bike, wh ich took her 20 minutes each way. She normally could get up at 10 in the morning for work, but she got up at seven for her son in order to take him to school. She did this even though I told her several times that Xiao could take a city bus to school and that he was already 16 years old and would be able to take care of himself. She worried about him not being able to speak English and insisted on taking him to school by bike. Xiao Wang Xiao was 15 years old when I first met him. He was skinny and short at that time and he looked much younger than his real age. He gained weight in the two years of the study but did not grow any inch taller so he became short and chubby, but still looked young. Even in China, he should have been in 9th grade, but he was only in 8th grad e when he left and had not even finished that. He said he did not like school too much, so he had qui t for a year and later returned. He did not speak or read much English even thou gh, as he told me, English was one of the core subjects in middle school in China. He admitted to me that he never got good grades in English and did not like it at all. Xiao was very quiet and did not speak much. He did not always answer questions whether they were from me, from his parents or from othe r relatives. If he answered, the sentences would be short. Most of the time I needed to repeat my questions and wait out the pauses before he said anything. He did not look at me when I talked to him. It seemed like the outside world did not 104

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have anything to do with him. Especially in an environment full of English, he chose to ignore English. Instead of hanging around with Sam, who was clos er to his age, he tended to hang out with Tim all the time. Although he still did not talk mu ch, Tim shared his territory (the living room with the TV), and he would liste n to Tim. After the semester be gan, Xiao moved to live with his parents in the dormitory. He had fe wer interactions with his brother but started to be closer to the restaurant community. The Others The others refer to the other relatives that al so worked in the restaurant (Table 4-3). In fact, all the full time workers were relatives of th e Chen Family. I did not formally interview the others but still considered th em part of the community. Table 4-3. The other family members Name Relationship Age*Role in the Restaurant Ken Zhao Mrs. Chens nephew 27 Waiter Sue Lin Kens wife 21 Waitress Jianan Zhao Mrs. Chens nephew 19 Chef Assistant *age in 2007 Ken (Zhonghe) Zhao and Sue (Xiujuan) Lin Ken is Janes nephew (her elder brothers second son). He worked as a waiter in the restaurant. After he graduated fr om high school in China, he came to the U.S. to work in his aunts restaurant. He was the most popular waiter in the restaurant. He chatted with the customers and he always had a smile on his face His wife, Sue, used to work in another restaurant with Kens other aunt and uncle (Sens parents), in another state. She moved to live with Ken after they got married in 2004 and worked in the restau rant as a waitress. Like Ken, Sue also had a friendly smile on her face all the time. 105

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They had a baby before I got involved with the families in March of 2005. When the baby was 3 months old, they took him to New York where they had some distant relatives and hometown neighbors who could take the baby back to Fuzhou and to the grandparents. By doing that, Sue was able to keep working in the restaurant. This couple also treated me very nicely. After I had been visiting the family for a period of time, they would come to chat with me and so metimes asked me questions and asked for help. When they got married in 2004, they did not have a traditional Chinese wedding, but when they finally had one at the end of 2006, they invited me to attend. Unfortunately, the wedding was in New York, and I could not go. They brought me so me chocolates and a photo as gifts, though. They even invited me to their big bedroom to look at all the photos they took during the wedding. Sen Wang Sen is another nephew of Mrs. Chen, too (her el der sisters son). He worked as an assistant to the chefs, and even took over Mr. Wangs j ob when he was off on Mondays. He looked much more mature than his real age. His parents wo rked in a restaurant in Missouri while his younger sister was still in China. He chose to work in his aunts restaurant because he did not want to live under his parents control. He told me he came to the U.S. because he was tired of going to school. He did not finish high sc hool and did not enroll in Am erican public schools when he arrived in the U.S. at the age of 17. However, he regretted that he did not go to school to learn more English. Sen was a warm and active person. He had a f it figure and dyed his hair. He was the only one who tried to communicate with the Mexi can workers. Even t hough he could not speak English well, he learned some Spanish from them When he was at the dorm, he played Chinese music loudly and he talked on the phone all the time. He kept in touch with friends in town and from New York City. Some of his friends even visited him from New Yor k. He dated some girls 106

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working in other Chinese restaurants in town. He told me that living in New York Chinatown would be fun but his family thought he would be bad there because he could easily access gambling, drugs and gangs. The Dormitory The dormitory was a house that Mr. Chen provi ded for all the full-time employees in the restaurant. Since it was not just a house for one family, it was more like a dormitory where people lived together and interacted with one an other. When I first visited this dormitory, 11 people plus one baby lived in the house. Other th an the six family members, there were 3 to 4 Mexican workers. The house was originally desi gned as a two-bedroom house with two bathrooms, a guest room, a living room, a dining room, a family dini ng room, a kitchen, and a garage. However, the house was modified to fit the needs of the incr easing family members and workers (see Figure 44). When entering from the front door there is a screen that serves as a door to separate the guest room. The guest room behind the screen is divide d into two smaller units by a curtain. At the time I went, there were four mattresses and one TV set for four Mexican workers. Another door on the right led to Ken and Sues room that was remodeled from a garage. Ken and Sues room is the biggest in the house, and it also has its own bathroom. They have a queen-sized bed, a desk with a laptop on it, a TV set, and a closet in the room. In 2006, Ken installed Internet so he could go online with his laptop. 107

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Figure 4-4. The dormitory Bath Bath Front Door Bath Xiao Wang Workers room Sen Kitchen Dining Mr. & Mrs. Wang 4 Mexican Workers roo m Entrance Garage remodeled to become Ken and Sues room Hall way as Living Space The kitchen and the dining table are the center of the house. The kitchen is on the left hand side and leads to all the other rooms. The first room after passing the k itchen on the left is the dining room. This is the place where all the Chin ese workers gather together to have dinner around 10:30 every night. The dining table might be the only furniture in the house that is used by all the family members. They ate and chatted here while taking turns to have a shower and before going to bed. There was a hallway behind the dining room, which served as a living room with a few chairs on one side and a place to dr y clothes on the other. Clothes hung on the wall of the hall, as well as in an d out of the bedrooms. At the end of the hallway is a wing for the bedrooms. Two bedrooms are separated by a bathroom. The left bedroom is for Mr. and Mrs. Wang. Their room had only a full-size bed and a television set sitting on a small TV stand. The ro om to the right of the bathroom, which was 108

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supposed to be the master bedroom of the house, is separated into two more small bedrooms. Xiao lived in the outside unit, closer to the bathroom. There is a twin-sized mattress and a little side table made of boxes in Xiaos room. All of his documents, papers, and assignments were in a box on the floor. A few months after he moved i n, he got a new laptop and a small computer table. The room next to Xiaos room does not have a door directly conne cting it to the living room. The non-family member wo rkers could temporarily live in the room but must enter through Xiaos room. A final bedroom on the right si de of the hallway is Sens bedroom. He has a mattress, a radio and a TV in his room. There is no laundry room in this house. All the workers have to take their clothes to the public laundromat. With ten people squeezed into a house with limited space for each of them, TV became the most important furniture in the dormitory. Each of the rooms had one and it was the symbol of privacy for the workers. It was the only thing they did not need to share with others when they shared the restaurant and the dormitory space for 24 hours a day. Summary In this chapter, I portrayed the family from pa st to present across ten years of separations. The family had suffered economic, physical, soci al and emotional chal lenges throughout their emigrant/immigrant journey from a fishing villag e in China to a college town in the U.S., I explained their living and working conditions, and described thei r relationships within their social communities. The portrait of each family member and their liv ing places were to help picture them in the three communities: The owners house, which is located in the mainstream community but is isolated from the neighborhood; the restaurant, where the adults spend most of their time working and interacting with one another; and th e dormitory, where the workers cram together after work. 109

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110 Their new lives in a new land centered on the re staurant business. Their literacy practices that were influenced by their cu ltural and immigrant experiences are the foci of the following chapters.

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CHAPTER 5 DOMINANT DISCOURSE AND NARRATIVE FORM Language is a tool that connect s individuals lives to society and fills lives with meaning (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). In the process of inte racting with society, people story their lives from their everyday experiences. These everyday experiences with others in society can be literacy practices. Berger and Luckmann (1967) point to the re lationship between human beings and their environment. They believe that peoples relatio nships to their surroundings are structured by their biological constitution and by engaging in social activities. The first institution in which this happens for most people is the family. Families help children construct their world. The culture of the family surely influences childrens understanding of social communities. Human beings first need to function in the family; they also need to learn how to connect to bigger soci al communities and the society they live in to form bridges between social worlds (Dyson, 1993). This chapter focuses on socio-cultural perspectives on literacy practices. Themes are organized to represent the domin ant discourses and the narrative forms I found in my data. I describe the cultural patterns and shared discou rses that make up the dominant discourses. The discourses I present here are, according to Pamphillon (1999), constantly modified and new discourses are constantly em erging, therefore over a life history, movement and repositioning must be anticipated. At times, a life history may present a struggle to resolve incongruencies between ones own experiences and dominant cultural narratives su rrounding this (p. 397). Therefore, in this chapter I first discuss the shared discourses in the new family cultures that were created by the participants restaurant lives and immigrant experiences. As Pamphilon (1999) uses cultural archetypes in a given culture as the narrative form, the Chinese cultural archetypes that were influenced by the philosophy of Confucius and Agricultural society are 111

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discussed next. Finally, I describe the educat ional background of my pa rticipants and their expectations for their childr en. I will explore narrative form in detail in Chapter 6. Starting from this chapter, I will be using quotati ons from the family members, my handwritten notes, and my reflective journals. Lapa dat and Lindsay (1999) state that language meanings and processes, which are situated in time and place and always negotiated or emergent, evade such neat description (p. 70). Since my transcriptions include more than one language and since most of them were informal conve rsations, I chose not to use standardized transcription conventions. For those recorded in Chinese, I translat ed them into English and put a note after the data source. The bracket with th ree dots [] was used when the unrelated words were eliminated. Capitalized words mean yelling, and underlined words mean stress of the word. Three dots were used when a period or silenc e or pause lasted for more than a second. Single parentheses () indicates signify my additions to help clarify the context. They were presented by their pseudonym first name and Ivy is me. Cultural Discourse: The Immigration The family developed new cultural patterns a nd their dominant discou rse on their journey as immigrants. The dominant discourse is th e process of immigration. The immigration experience centered with the familys American dream, and because of their American dream, the family could suffer all sorts of difficulties to reach that goal. The cultural patterns were the ways the family lived their lives centering around the restaurant, and the ways they connected the limited restaurant community to the outside world. Separation and Isolation It is hard for me to imagine how it would have felt if my parents had left me to move to another country and I didnt know how long it woul d take before I would see them again. This was what happened to the Chen family. As Fu (2003) describes, these pe ople usually lived a life 112

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without many opportunities for themselves or for th eir children in China They admire the families that regularly receive money from relatives aboard the only way to make their dream come true is to be smuggled out (p.9). With a belief that a life in the U.S. can be better for the whole family and can bring the whole family, es pecially their children, a better future, the families are willing to suffer from long worki ng hours and separation from family members. They also hold an immigrant ethic that they have to be successful in order to honor their families back in their hometown. In order to achieve the American dream, th e family members understood that they needed to sacrifice the ways they were accustomed to live The first thing they needed to suffer was to be physically separated from the rest of the fa mily. Especially for the pioneer family, the Chens, the family story became one of separatio n. Even after they finally were geographically reunited, they were still separate d in their daily lives because of the family business. Moreover, because of living a life that centered on a rest aurant business, the family did not have much chance or time to interact with the world outside the restaurant. Th ey were isolated in their dayto-day lives, and separated from the mainstr eam literate society in the university town. For the Chen family, their physical separati on from each other began soon after this new core family was formed when the parents go t married in 1991. After that, the new couple separated for four years without seeing each other. Father and son separated from each other for more than six years without seeing each other. Th e brothers were separate d for about two years. Although the family was formed over 15 years ago, the physical family only started living together five years ago. Each of them had to learn to live as a family. The interesting thing is that, they did not talk about this separation often. A lthough I knew that Tim was sent back for some years, and Sam was not born in the United Stat es, I did not have the whole picture until the 113

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second year of data collection, when I had built a very close relationship with the family and tried to puzzle the different versions of story from each of the family members. The separation situation for Chen family is shown as Figure 5-1. Figure 5-1. Separation of the Chen family Reunited Mom Sam China US 92 93 91 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 Dad Tim In China In US Reunited 05 06 As husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Chen were apart for four years before Mr. Chen was able to save enough money to get Mrs. Chen out to the US. During the four years they were apart, Mrs. Chen described how they kept in contact with each other. She said that Mr. Chen was living with other workers at that time. During the winter time, he had to walk out to look for a public phone booth and used a phone card to talk to her even when it was snowing. Mrs. Chen had to take care of their new-born son without Mr. Chen s help. But they all believed that they would be together and understood they were working for the future. Mrs. Chen told me the story about when she le ft China that she had not dared to tell Sam directly that she was leaving. A ll the relatives had to help her hide from Sam and tricked him by saying that Mom is going shopping. But then she did not come back for a really long time. Sam had first lost his Dad, who he probably di d not have any memory of. Then he lost his mother at the age of 4. Mrs. Chen told me this story laughing, but she also told me that It is hard. What could I do? He was so young, and I had to go. I could sense it is also hard for her 114

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to leave her 4 year-old-son in China and fly to a place that she had never been before. At the age of 5, Sam got a brother. Unlike other families, he had not witnessed the pregnancy of his mother, had not seen his parents for almost 2 years but suddenly had a baby brother. For him it must have been a great shock when Tim arrived. After thei r second son was born in the US, Mrs. Chen did not work for about 6 months but stayed home w ith Tim. But they soon moved to another city with new jobs and they had to send Tim back to China to stay with his grandparents so both of them could work. After being apart for about ten years, the Chen family finally reunited when Mr. Chen bought the restaurant so he did not have to work for other people anymore. The ten-year separation from one another had a strong impact on family interactions. In Chapter 7 I will discuss how the impact showed in Sams feeling insecure, the parents feeling guilty for not being with Tim during his infancy, and in the in authentic brotherhood of Sam and Tim. In US In China Mom Xiao China 89 Dad Mei 91 93 95 97 99 01 02 03 04 05 US 06 07Figure 5-2. Separation of Wang family The Wang family, thanks to the Chen family who had been the pioneers, did not have to suffer as long a separation as the Chens. However, they did have their short separation periods as well. Mr. Wang was brought to the U.S. when Mr Chen started his own business, leaving Mrs. Wang and the two children in China. 115

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Four years later, Mrs. Wang flew to the States with their son, but still kept their daughter in China with grandparents and other relatives. People from Southern China, especially rural area still hold the belief that boys are more valuable than girls. Therefore Mr. and Mrs. Wang chose to bring Xiao to the U.S. but left Xiaos younger si ster in China. They told me they could only afford to bring one child for now. Also Xiao wa s not doing well in China. Xiao dropped out of school twice in China because he did not want to study, and he skipped classes so much that he could not qualify to move to the next grade. Mrs. Wang told me that Xiao was bad and that he was not afraid of anyone and did not listen to he r at all. Before Mr. Wang left China, he was probably the only one Xiao would listen to. This also changed after 4 years of being apart. After Mrs. Wang and Xiao came to the US, Mrs. Wang needed to work in the restaurant as all other family members in order to help the business, pay the loan fo r their immigration, and save more money to get their daughter out. Mrs. Wang once complained that she didnt have time for Mahjong, to go to church or to make he rself look good anymore. She had not worked in China (according to her, it was hard to get a job in their little town anyway ). She was able to put on make-up and dressed up everyday to play mahjong with relatives and friends. The members of the Wang family were not apart from the beginning. They had more time together before the separation. Also because of the Chens experiences, they knew what would happen when they immigrated, and they had someone in the U.S. to help them. Just like the separations of the Chen and the Wang family, sepa ration seemed to be the fate of most of the immigrant families, and they all suffer separati ons in different ways: The young couple, Ken and Sue sent their newborn son back to China, follo wing a pattern similar to the Chens. They just accepted it as a necessary step for better future. 116

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New Structure Even when the whole Chen family had reunited in the United States af ter ten years of longdistance relationship, the family was still separate d in a sense: Children and parents rarely had quality family time together due to their obliga tions in the restaurant business. The parents worked in the restaurant 12 hours a day, seven days a week. There were no weekends, no family vacations. Their opportunitie s for communication and interac tion with their children were limited. According to their work schedule, parents a nd children in the Chen family developed a routine that only allowed them a very short time together each day, even though they lived in the same house. The children from these families could not develop a proper use of time (Heath, 1983). They also had specific routines for eating and sleeping but the routines had to follow the restaurants schedule and adjust to the parents working hours. The parents needed to work late every night while the children ha d to get up early for school especially Tim, who was in elementary school and needed to be at school around 7:30am. Even though Mrs. Chen normally went to bed at 2 in the morning, she had to get up at seven in the morning to wake Tim up. More than once she told me how hard it was to wa ke Tim up in the morning. Many times Tim would go back to bed again after Mrs. Chen thought he was awake. As a result, he was late for school, which led to a warning by the teacher. Table 5-1 shows the daily schedule of Mrs. Chen and the children. There were only two overlapping times, the lunch delivery time and the midnight dinner. 117

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Table 5-1. Chen familys daily schedule Mrs. Chens Daily Schedule Childrens Daily Schedule 07:00 Get up to wake up Tim 07:00 Tim gets up and goes to school 07:30 Go back to sleep 08:00 Sam gets up and goes to school 10:30 Get up and go to work 16:30 Go home 15:00 Lunch at the restaurant 16:45 Lunch time 16:30 Deliver lunch home 17:00 Homework (Sam) 17:30 Back to work 17:00 Go out biking or watch TV (Tim) 23:30 Go home and cook 19:00 Nap/shower/Games/TV 24:30 Mr. Chen comes home 21:00 Computer games/TV 01:00 Dinner/watch TV 23:30 TV 01:30 Take shower 01:00 Dinner 02:00 Go to bed 01:30 Go to bed The parents and childrens lives in the Wang family were al so separate even though they lived close to the restaurant (s ee Table 5-2). Since Xiao lived in the dormitory only 5 minutes walking distance to the restaurant, he did not ne ed to wait at home fo r food. His daily schedule was closer to the restaurant schedule. In the morning he got up by himself. He took the school bus to the middle school when he was 8th grade then he went to a high school that was about 10 minutes walk. After school, he walked to the restaurant for lunch. After lunch, he went back to the dormitory, washed his cl othes, watched some TV, and took a nap. He then got up around 10 p.m. and had dinner with his parents and rela tives. Since the house was for all the workers, they finished their day earlier than Mr. and Mr s. Chen. Also since the house is only 5 minutes walking distance from the restaurant, they normally arrived home between te n to ten thirty. Mrs. Wang would be the first to leave the restaurant to go home to start cooking dinner for all the relative workers (not including the Mexican workers and those who were not relatives). Mr. Wang, Ken, his wife Sue, and Sen, would go back one by one, and gather around the dining table chatting while waiting for dinner. While they wa ited, they chatted and took turns to take a shower. 118

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Table 5-2. Wang familys daily schedule Mrs. Wangs Daily Schedule Xiaos Daily Schedule 10:00 Get up and go to work 08:30 Get up and go to school 15:00 lunch at the restaurant 16: 00 Get off from school and have lunch at the restaurant 22:00 Mrs. Wang goes home to cook 16:30 go home 22:30 All other members go home 20:00 Take a nap 23:00 Dinner 22:00 Get up 23:30 take shower 23:00 Dinner 01:30 go to bed 01:00 go to bed The primary concern of all family members was to work hard to establish the restaurant business, and they adjusted thei r living patterns accordingly. Th ey did not have any long-term plans because they had to make decisions according to the situation of the restaurant. The adults devoted almost every moment to their work, and th ey seldom had a chance to develop any social life outside the restaurant. This also created a fo rm of separation: a separation from life in the surrounding community. In addition, they were sepa rated from mainstream society by language and cultural differences. Class differences made yet another form of separation in this university town where most of the population from the sa me ethnic backgrounds was professional. All of this led to the family being isolated from mainstream society and from the same cultural community. The children were also isolated from others. Th ey stayed at home all day, so they had to learn how to entertain themselves, and not to bother their parents too much. During their free time in the afternoon and evening, they played games either on TV or from the internet, watched TV, and took naps. The safe environment that th e parents created for th e children also created a wall between the children and the outside world. The parents could not take the children to activities that most of the ch ildren in the neighborhood attended such as a chess club, a music club or a sport club. 119

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The children, although they sometimes compla ined about being bored, never disobeyed their parents, and they followed the rules that th eir parents set for them. They knew that they had to take care of themselves in many ways. They walked to school by themselves. Sam biked but Mrs. Chen did not allow Tim to ride his bike to school. She believed it was too dangerous, and he was too young. They did not allow them to take bus either. In fact, the parents did not like the children to leave the house. They believed the Am erican society was pretty dangerous, and so the children stay home all the time. The separation living style had an impact on th e way the family members interact with one another, and also the way the family interacts with the outside world. The adults chose to sacrifice their family time for the future, or the American dream, but the children do not understand why they cannot see their parents for such a long time. Especially for Sam and Tim, the brothers; they could not tell me how their lives toge ther in China, or how they reunited. Tim was too young to remember the details, but Sam was six to eight years old when Tim was in China with him. As a Chinese, I blamed Sam in the beginning for not taking care of his younger brother and not taking responsibility for the fam ily. However, I feel sorry for him when I figured out the history and the separa tion of the family. Whenever I asked Sam about his life in China, he did not want to talk about it, and he also told me he did not remember anything when Tim was sent back. Although the fam ily has the history of separation, and is still separated in daily lives and with the community, it is still obvious that both parents and children try to be involved in each others lives. They also had an understanding that all the sacrifices were to make a better future possible. They did not only live a life for them selves, they also live a life for their families in their hometown. They hol d an immigrant ethic that they have to be successful and they have to honor the family. 120

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Immigrant Lives Inside their small world, the family members in teracted with one another in the restaurant during the off-peak hours. In the afternoon they would take turns to have their lunch while some of them kept walking around the restaurant to ma ke sure everything is fine. Those who finished their work would gather around the family table of the restaurant, auto matically pick up some tasks such as picking the vegeta bles, wrapping wontons, or folding the napkins. They would chat while doing the job. That was all of their social lives. They rarely had time or chance to have their social lives out of the restaurant. Ken and Sue, as waiter and waitress, had more opportunities to interact with people out of the family. Even so, their interactions were st ill limited to customers and co-workers in the restaurant. Mr. and Mrs. Wang and Sen worked in the kitchen so they did not have chances to interact too much with people out of the family. They chatted w ith another chef who was from Taiwan, and communicated with the Mexican workers sometimes using body language. Other than that, the people who lived in the dorm house did not have t oo much social life. Sen might be the one who was the most active in the fam ily. He was young and single that he would go out to date some girls (mostly workers from othe r Chinese restaurants) when he took off on Tuesdays. Other relatives teased him for his talking on the phone every night. The familys life was pretty isolated and separa te from the outside wo rld. In spite of this, they developed a way to connect to that worl d, even it was limited. The families kept close contact with the Fuzhou community in New York Chinatown, from where they could get useful information about surviving in the English worl d, and also get updated information from their hometown. They knew where to find help throu gh this remote community that I called it a satellite community of the family. Moreover, th e families passively made contact with some 121

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local Chinese speaking i ndividuals who they saw and used as mediators to the mainstream cultural society. The restaurant community Because the restaurant business was the prim ary concern of all the family members, including Chen family, the Wang family and relatives, they developed a daily living schedule around the restaurant schedule (S ee Table 5-3). Even the three school-aged children, Sam, Tim and Xiao, altered their eating and sleeping times to match th e restaurant working hours. Table 5-3. Restaurant schedule Time Schedule 10:00am Workers arrive preparing for opening 10:30am Owners arrive 11:30am Start taking orders for delivery, Start business 11:30am 2:30pm Peak hours for lunch 2:30pm Chefs start cooking for workers 3:30 4:30pm Prepare for dinner (wrapping the dumplings, wash the vegetables, fold the napkins) 4:30pm Start dinner hours 4:30-9:00pm Peak hours for Dinner 9:00-10:30pm Keep taking deliver y orders, start cleaning up 10:30pm Leave the restaurant The restaurant workers normally had a schedule for eating that allowed them to avoid peak hours during lunch and dinner when they were all busy serving customers. They had lunch around three in the afternoon, and dinner around ni ne or ten at night. The children were so familiar with the system that they did not know there might be different ways. Once Sam even told me that, All Chinese have lunch at three and dinner at nine. I asked him, Really? How do you know? He said he just knew. Since most Ch inese people he knew were relatives in the restaurant business, even in New York or in othe r states, that was the only living style he learned from his family. He learned the routine from hi s family and did not know that the world outside of the restaurant may have other ways of living. 122

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I normally visited the restaurant before or after the peak hours because I knew they would have some time to talk with me. I went there around eleven in the morning, four in the afternoon, or after nine at night. A lot of times I visited them around 3 or 4 when they were having lunch, they always asked me to eat with them. It is the Chinese way to greet people and to show their hospitality to invite to eat together. To show the hosts passions, even if I claimed that I had already eaten, they would insist I eat with them at around 4 oclock in the afternoon. The interesting thing was that after they accepted me as part of the insiders they expected me to eat at the same hours as they did and always asked/convinced me to eat with them. Satellite Chinatown Mr. Chen once told me that he did not like to study, and that he ha d dropped out of school at an early age. He started to do different ki nds of jobs and learned business from Taiwanese businessmen. It was when the governments hadnt opened connections between China and Taiwan. The names he mentioned were men I kne w as economic criminals. He was proud that he knew those big names and learned good business st rategies from them. He also told me that he started his business by doing money launde ring in China. Although he seemed proud of how smart he was in earning money, he did not want his children to have to risk so much in such a complicated world. It is not too hard to unders tand when considering th e whole history of the family. Mr. Chen first earned his money by starting to work in the grey area. He started his new life in the U.S. by smuggling himself in. These we re not pleasant experiences and he did not live in very nice places at first. He wanted his childr en to live in a cleaner, safer environment. Thus he did not choose New Yorks Chinatown or other big cities where the family had relatives and a Chinese community to live in. He said that New Yo rk City is too chaotic, and he did not like the 123

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messy and dirty Chinatown. The hidden meaning of chaotic and messy may refer to the gang society, the drug dealers, and the underground businesses. Once after Sen visited Chinatown, I asked him how it was. He said it was wonderful and fun living there. He had a lot of f un activities to do at night after work. However, he also told me he would never be able to save money if he lived in Chinatown, and he said he would want to go out with gangs and might get into trouble. Mr. Ch en had said that it wa s dirty in Chinatown. He was referring to both the physical envi ronment, and the gangs and drug community. Considering what he had gone through growing up, and his experiences entering the USA, the long wait for legal status and fa mily reunion, it is not too hard to understand why he wanted to settle in a place that was quiet, safe and clean. Soon after they had the ability to purchase their first restau rant, they bought a house that was not close to the restaurant. Even though they would need to drive 12 miles back and forth several times a day, they preferre d to live in a place that was re moved from the restaurant so their children could go to school in what th ey had been told was a decent district. Being marginalized from mainst ream society, they did not trust the outside world. Mr. and Mrs. Chen did not allow their children to take a bus. They believed their house was the safest place in the world. The children locked themselv es in without interac ting with the neighborhood too much. Even when the younger brother, Tim, went out to ride his bi ke in the afternoon, he seldom interacted with others but just rode on the driveway. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Chen picked a neighborhood that belonged to mainstr eam society, they did not have time to get familiar with the cultures, they were still in th e margins, still isolated from the community. Mr. and Mrs. Chen did not want their children to have a tough life like they had had before. So they tried to protect them in the way that they believed was the best. They chose a univeristy 124

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town because Mr. Chen believed life in a small town would be safe, simple, and more comfortable. However, because of the sophisticat ed nature of a university town, they did not have access to and were also isolated from both the mainstream American society and the Chinese community. They kept connections with the Chinese groups in New York City Chinatown but were not involved too much with local Chinese society. Th ey had relatives in New York City, and they knew how they could get information there. Most of them had gone to New York City before they settled in this town. Their cell phones had New York numbers, they brought food from New York, and they had social celebrations in New York. For example, Ken and Sue flew to New York and had their wedding banquet in New York City Chinatown. Mrs. Wang and Xiao went to New York City fr equently the first year they arrived. Since they were not officially documented, they relie d on the Chinese-speaking lawyers there and had their court case in New York City. Normally th ey took a bus from the university town to New York City, even though the ride took a whole day; it was the easiest way for them. Mr. Chen was the only one in the family who could drive long di stances, but he could not afford to leave his business to drive. Mrs. Wang and Xiao woul d leave on a Sunday night and come back on Tuesday morning so Mrs. Wang wouldnt miss a day of work, since she regularly took off on Mondays. Cultural mediators Compared with their long distance interactions with people in New York City Chinatown, their connections with the outside world in their town we re mostly passive. Other than interacting with business partners or customers, they did not have direct connections with mainstream people. During the time I interacted with the family, ther e were only three people who interacted with the family and served as mediators to the world of the university town: the 125

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first one was Mrs. Tang the Realtor, whom they had met when they settled in the town. Mrs. Tang was also an active member of a local Chin ese church with good connections to the local Chinese community. Through Mrs. Tang, they met Mrs. Yang, the principal of a local Chinese school, who was also active in Chinese society. These two people represented the high-literate Chinese community. Since they were both enthusiast ic persons, they would chat with the family when they went to the restaurant and provided help when the family requested it. The third person was me, the researcher, who had asked to get into their family. Mrs. Tang The interactions between the family and Mrs. Ta ng started from the r eal estate transaction. After that, Mrs. Tang regularly invited the family to the Chinese church. She voluntarily picked the children up to go to the church on Sundays. The family then would ask for help from Mrs. Tang when she went to the restaurant. According to Mrs. Chen, they are not Christian. Even when Mrs. Tang offered the opportunity to bring them into the community, Mr. and Mrs. Chen did not go to the church with the children. When Mrs. Chen was asked why she would like her children to go to the church, she said Mrs. Tang was nice to them, a nd the children had nothing to do on Sundays. They believed that letting the child ren to go to church showed they cared for Mrs. Tang. They also thought that their children might have more opportunity to interact with people from the Chinese community. After I started to interact with the family, they asked me to take the children to the church once, but then they quitted going. Mrs. Chen said it was too hard for them to wake up the children on Sunday morning. Mrs. Yang Mrs. Yang had three children, one of whom was in the same school as Sam. Therefore, she offered help whenever there was a need for pa rents to be present at school. Mrs. Yang also 126

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invited the children to live with her family duri ng a summer before I visited the family. I knew Mrs. Yang in person, so I asked her how and why she would have the brothers at home for two months. She told me she knew that Mr. and Mrs. Chen left the children home most of the time during the summer, and she felt sorry for the children. Since she had thre e children, she said it wouldnt be too difficult to have two more in the house. She took the brothers swimming when she took her own children. As Mr. and Mrs. Ch en had requested, she treated Sam and Tim strictly. She asked them to follow the same ru les she had for her own children, and she punished them if they behaved badly. According to Mrs. Chen, Mrs. Yang was the only person that the children would listen to. Although the children lived with Mrs. Yangs family for two months, they did not get too close to the Yangs. Sam was almost the same age as Mrs. Yangs second child, but they did not ta lk to each other much. After my second year of data collection, wh en I had stopped tutoring the children and Tim had become a fourth grader, Mrs. Yang offered he r elder son as a tutor for Tim. Sam no longer needed tutoring since he was doing better in sc hool. Also, he knew how to contact me by phone or via the instant messenger when he needed he lp. Tim, on the other hand, was having problems in reading and was evaluated as an ESE student. Mrs. Yang asked Mr s. Chen to hire her son as Tims tutor and was present at the tutoring sessi ons twice a week. Tim respected Mrs. Yang but at the same time was very afraid of her. He might forget about school assignments but would follow Mrs. Yangs request to complete assignmen ts on time. He once complained that it was unfair that Sam had me as a tutor but he got Mrs. Yang or her son. The researcher I was the third person from the English/Chines e world that entered their family. Since I was a volunteer without any insiders endorsement, I did not get their full trust for the first few 127

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months of our acquaintance. They treated me nicely and politely, but no t whole-heartedly. They were not sure what my purpose was, and they di d not believe that I was really helping without asking for a return. Also they di d not know if it would ju st be for a short period of time. I could sense that when they asked me for help and I did not have an immediat e response, they would not ask me again for a while. They were very cau tious in interacting with people that from the mainstream culture, and they kept their pride by not asking for help. After one year of visits, I finally felt like I was being seen as a family member to them. Mrs. Chen called me constantly. She called me when the children brought notes from school, or when she needed me to book tickets for the family, or during some Chinese fes tivals or celebrations for the family members. After I finished my data collection period, I stopped going regularly. She would call me and invite me to the restaurant to eat. Unlike Mr. and Mrs. Chen who kept in cont act with Mrs. Tang and Mrs. Yang, the Wangs could only rely on the Chens information and resources. Since no one in the Wang family had a drivers licenses or a car, they were more is olated in their small restaurant community. Their lives were limited to the area surrounding their re staurant they walked ten minutes to a WalMart, five minutes to an oriental market or five minutes to the laundry store. Other than Ken and Sue, most of the family (and the rest of the workers) did not have any opportunities to interact with peopl e except for each other. In addi tion to language problem, their undocumented status may have been another reason th at kept them from interacting with people. Once Mrs. Wang told me that a social worker had come to their house and tried to talk to them. They could not tell me the exact story, but from what I heard, they were under some observation by the government, and they had to show them that they were not working in this country. I then felt really lucky that they trusted me and were willing to tell me some real stories. 128

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129 The Wang family seldom called me even when they needed help. I had left them my phone number and had installed Instant Messenger (I M, or MSN) on Xiaos Laptop and added my email to his contact list. He ra rely initiated contact with me, but he would respond to me if I asked him questions. Compared to the Chens, the Wangs were shy and more passive about contacting the local resources. On the other hand, they had cl oser relationships with the Chinese community in New Yorks Chinatown. Since Mrs. Wang had hired a Chinese lawyer and kept her case in there, she needed to go to New York for court several times in the first two years. She had her hair cut in there and she br ought back a lot of Fuzhou frozen food from New York City every time she went. Even though she needed to take a bus for 24 hours, she trusted and valued the resources from New York City. Recourses and connections One thing that I found interes ting was that since the family only had these three local information resources, they crosschecked the thr ee resources to make sure the information they got was correct and effective. For example, they as ked me to check flight ticket prices, and at the same time asked Mrs. Tang to check the same th ing. Then they compared the two and asked one of us to book the tickets for them I felt a little bit uncomfortable when I first found out about it. Then I understood that this was their way to doubl e check if they had th e right information. It was actually like when I found one fl ight price I would need to cross-check in different websites and choose the cheapest one. It is really hard for Mr. and Mrs. Ch en to totally trust someone. I believe that the only ones they really trusted we re the core family members. Even though they were learning to trust us since they had to use us as resources to connect with the mainstream community, they could not stop crosschecking the information they received. This could also be seen as one of their ways of functioning literacy.

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130 Cultural mediator Hometown in China The University town mainstream Satellite Chinatown Figure 5-3. The social cultural stru cture of family life history

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Our interactions reminded me of some of my own relatives. Si nce we were not close before, I began to visit them. We did not have overlapping life styles, and our conversations were limited to a surface level of, Did you lose weight?, or You need to take good care of yourself and I think youve been busy. From these conversations, I saw how they interacted with each other. It is a basic need for all of us, to live happily and healthy. The pare nts would make sure that their children were not starving, that th ey were full, warm and healthy. Even for these three resources, they rarely contacted us unless they really needed help. They were so afraid of bothering others. The fa mily was very passive when connecting to the outside world. Socio-cultural Structure of Family Life History As shown at figure 5-3, the family's comm unity centered on the restaurant community. They worked together, lived together and had sim ilar schedules. They interacted with people in New York City's Chinatown frequently. Even if it was physically distanced from the restaurant in the university town, they had close relations hips with the Chinatown community. Some of the family members used cell phones with area code s from New York. Ken Zhao and Sue Lin had their wedding banquet there They also asked a neighbor from their hometown who lived in Chinatown to take their newborn son back to China. The New York Chinatown indirectly connected the restaurant commun ity to their hometown in China. The two-way border arrows show the equal relationships and interactions between the restau rant community, the "Satellite Chinatown" and their hometown in China. At the other end, the family was connected to three "cultu ral mediators" they had met through business (the realtor and the restaurant). Through interactions with them, the family could indirectly connect to the mainstream co mmunity of the university town. The border and the dotted arrows between the restaurant community and the "mediators" showed the interactions 131

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between them were un-natural and sometimes even unequal. Different to the interactions with the Chinatown and hometown communities, this side of their social relationships represents a more unequal way of interactions. Through the cultural mediators, the family was seeking a way to climb up to the upper layer of the social economic community. Narrative Form: The Cultural Archetypes Having an insider's understanding of Chinese cu lture was very helpful in seeing how these family members where interacting when it seemed liked they weren't interacting at all. I could see in their relationships and interactions familiar cultural archetypes. In previous sections I have discussed how a persons life becomes storied through their everyday in teractions. Following that argument, we can consider patterns of inter actions as the narrative themes in a persons story. That makes it interesting to examine day-to-day in teractions and relationshi p patterns to see how each person's story is developing. In this section I describe the cu ltural archetypes that I noticed in the participants' interactions to help explain how these provide the narrative themes in the life story of these participants, which wi ll be discussed in next chapter. As Cai (1994) said, the tradition of Chinese cu lture values not only loyalty to parents but also encourages brotherhood am ong friends, colleagues, and nei ghbors (p.175). Confucius five principles of interpersonal relationships were defined by Wu-Lun Shu (a book with detailed descriptions of the five prin ciples) during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to provide different standards for different interp ersonal relationships between: emperor and officers (or supe rvisors and employers), parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings (or seniors and juniors), and friends. 132

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These five interpersonal relationships are the central value system in social context of Confucian society (Bellah, 1970; King, 1985). In the Confucian hierarchical system, everyone is supposed to have his/her own role in the family, in the community and in society. Responsib ilities and obligations associated with this role are unspoken but should be understood and follo wed. By following this hierarchical system, it is believed that the whole world is taken care of and is honorable, respected, and at peace (Heller et al., 2000, p.23). This hier archical system puts family on th e top of the list of values in Chinese culture. Even though awareness of society and the nation seem to be the major priority of the system, both were centered on the concept of honoring the family. Thus, each of the family members plays their roles following the implicit rules for a father, a supervisor, a brother or an uncle accordingly. This extended family followed these traditional beliefs and customs in keeping the family values. Even within the hierarchical orders to take the family business seriously and on top of everything, they created time and space for family members to get together. Also influenced by the hierarchical structure and the Confucian culture, the families had certain expectations about education and schooling. The beliefs of hierarchical structure, family values and educational expectations are the primary cultural archetypes of these families and were embedded in their immigrant experiences. Hierarchical Structure For the Chinese, the concepts of a Confucian hierarchical system put people into different layers according to their relationships. This includ es the way one interacts with another person in relationships (e.g., the emperor has power over the officers, pa rents have power over children, and seniors have power over junior s). It also takes the order of the relationships into account. 133

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Relationship in work situations In the ancient times, the emperor was the mo st important people in the world, which put the relationship between the emperor and the officers as the first priority among the five. This relationship can also be interpreted as a re lationship between employers and employees, to indicate a relationship that is ou t of the family or in a working situation where one needs to be successful in order to honor his/her family. The restaurant business was the location of this goal structure and this they had to put the restaurant busi ness on top of all other duties and sacrifice their individual needs to the bus iness. Thus, at work, the family members played the roles of colleagues, not relatives. The owners became Laoban (Mr. Boss) and Laobanniang (Mrs. Boss) in the restaurant. The ways ever yone interacted with one another in the restaurant was totally business. However, the restaurant employees were mostly family members. In this situation, relationships between employers and employees may have conflicted when someone needed to switch between their roles. The conflicts that happened in the family/restaurant are discussed later in this Chapter. Parents and children The next important Confucian relationship is the one between parents and children. Although literally this can refer to any intimate relationship, it can actually be translated as the closest blood, as the Chinese say: blood is thicker than water. Chin ese people believe that they do not just work for themselves, but also work for the future of the family. They would devote their hard work to guarantee their next ge neration a better life. In return they would ask the next generation to keep up the good work, to honor the family, and to take care of them when they get old. These parents would expect their children to follow the important Chinese value of 134

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the filial piety to obey and please them (Li, 2000; Pang et al, 1992; Mo & Shen 2000; Heller et al, 2000). Under this cultural influence, the parents pl ayed their roles according to cultural norms. They believed that the responsibilities and obligations of the parents were to take care of the children and the family. They should provide them with a stable life, feed them well, and make sure there was a roof for the family. When I chatted with Mr. and Mrs. Chen, I recalled how I grew up in such a culture. If I did something th at was out of the cultural norm, my father would tell me to follow his command, and would say I did not ask you to work, so the only thing you have to do is to study hard. That is your respons ibility. The parents of these immigrant families have the same attitude. The parents said that they did not want the children to go to the restaurant or to work there, they only wanted them to st udy harder in the United States and get a job that was better than work in the restaurant. Mrs. Ch en keep telling (and yelling at) Sam and Tim, I work hard for you; you have to study hard in return. She also told me that they had earned enough money for the rest of their life if they we nt back to China now. However, they had to earn more in order to give the children enough for their education. Mr. and Mrs. Wang also believed that if they took their responsibilities to make the foundation of the family strong enough, the children had to follow their ex pectations to do their jobs too: the children should obey what the parents told them to do, and study hard in order to get a good job, raise a family, and to increase the family wealth. The children, on the other hand, never had a sa y in the parents decisions. They had to please the parents by following thei r orders, and trying their best to meet their expectations and honor the family. More traditiona lly, children should not doubt on pa rents decision, and are also expected to take care of their parents when they get old. More over, they should understand that 135

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their parents had sacrificed a lot for the family. In return, they should behave well, and do their best in school to as their pay back to the family. Born and/or raised in the U.S., the Chen br others may not have completely understood the deep meaning of their Chinese roles. When both of the mothers kept telling them that Weve been working so hard to earn a living for you, you should study hard, or see how lucky you are to not need to work but just study; the childre n felt annoyed listening to the same thing over and over. They may not have understood the deep m eaning under the reminders, that each of the family members had to play his/ her role well. The parents tried to show them that they were doing their jobs to provide them a good living condition, a life without worrying about money and other things. The only thing that the children needed to do to return the parents hard work was to honor them by doing well in school. Even though the children complained about the annoying expectations from the parents, they knew how hard their parents worked in order to takecare of the family. They still followed cultu ral rules and also took go od care of themselves. Even though they complained that the parents di d not spend time with them and that they were bored at home, they tried to find things to entertain themselves and not to bother the parents too much. Husbands and wives The Chinese husband is seen as the head of the family. He is supposed to make the decisions based on how to best benefit the whol e family, and to honor the ancestors. He has obligations to provide the family living expenses Traditionally, the husband is the one who earns a living for the family. On the other hand, a wife handles everything under the roof of the family while the husband takes care of ever ything that outside of the house. A wife is a follower of her husband. She does not make decisions, does not even doubt her husbands decisions. She trusts the husband and does what her husband asks her to do. She does 136

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all the housework, takes care of the elders and children at home. She shares the responsibilities to keep a family by making sure everyone in the fa mily is fed and healthy. Also, the wife should socialize with the relatives and neighbors while the husband typically in teracts with people in business. In the Chen family, Mr. Chen made the decisi on to come to the U.S. He planned for the whole family, left his wife and new-born son in Ch ina and started to work alone in a new country. After the family came to the U.S., he decided to buy a restaurant, so he researched the location. While he was searching for a restaurant for the new life of the family, his wife and son stayed home. The family followed his decision to move to a new place, and to start a new life without questions. Even though Mr. Chen asked the children to call the mother whenever they needed to talk to the parents, the children knew that only Father could make decisions so they always wanted to talk to their father. They knew if they got permission from the father, it would be a done deal. Mr. Chen understood his role and tried hard to play it well. He knew that he was responsible for providing the whol e family with a stable life. Mrs. Chen, as a wife, even though she had to take some responsibilities out of the house due to the life needs of new immigrants, she sti ll followed tradition and played her role in the family. She called home to check on the children to make sure they ate and they slept well. She cooked for the family at night even though they c ould easily have gotten f ood from the restaurant. She did laundry, cleaned the house, and took care of the children. Mr. Wang, like Mr. Chen, was the first of the family who came to work in the U.S. He had to make sure that he could earn enough to support his family. The first few years he had to work to repay the loan he taken to pay the agency that got him out of China. Then he had to save money to get his wife and son out of China t oo. He understood that he was responsible for the 137

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whole family so he worked hard in the U.S. a nd kept sending money back home to his wife and his children. Mrs. Wang had lived in a more traditional wa y as a housewife for seve ral years before she came to the U.S. to work with her husband and ot her relatives. She took care of the children and the elders at home so her husband could con centrate on his work wit hout worrying about the family. After she arrived in the U.S., like Mrs. Che n, she had to work in the restaurant six days a week with her husband and at the same time cook for the family (including the extended family, her nephews), do the laundry and take care of their son. Conflicts and change of relationships betw een the seniors and juniors (or siblings) In a traditional family, the el der brothers or sisters have power over the younger ones. The elder ones make command when the parents are out at work. The younger ones respect and follow the older ones directions. These unspoken expectations fell on Sam and he complained that his mom expected more of him than of Tim because he was the older one in the family. He also needed to take care of the house, and he was asked to share the housework when he was younger while Tim could always get out of doing chores because Mom said he is too young. Sam said that I started to wash dishes and stuff at age 8 but he did not n eed to This concept also extends in general to seniors and juniors in any relationship. Traditionally, children can never say the name s of their parents. Nor can they say the names of the siblings of the parents: They have to call them uncles and a unts and respect them as they would their parents. However, interpersonal relationships became complex after they moved to the U.S. and started the restaurant busine ss (e.g., between sisters: Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Wang; between brothers-in-law: Mr. Chen and Mr. Wang; or between seniors and juniors: Mr./Mrs. Wang and Sam/Tim, etc.). According to the hierarchical pr inciple, the bigger picture is always more 138

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important than the small family unit. When principles conflict, loyalty to country should be on top, followed by loyalty to society, the community and then to the family. In the restaurant, interpersonal rules were more likely to be gove rned by the category of governor and officer adapted to the contemporary context as the owner and the worker, or the employers and employees. Table 5-4. Position chart of the family Name Relationship with Mrs. Chen Roles in Family Outside Family Role Mrs. Chen (the youngest daughter in her original family) Mother, wife, younger sister, sister-in-law, aunt Owner, Cashier, Phone order taker, back-up for other positions Mr. Chen Husband Father, husband, brother-in-law, uncle Owner. Manager, Delivery Sam Chen Son Son, nephew, cousin 7th grader Tim Chen Son Son, nephew, cousin 4th grader Mrs. Wang Elder sister Mother, wife, elder sister, sister-in-law, aunt Janitor, Buffet Table supplier Mr. Wang Brother-in-law Father, husband, brother-in-law, uncle Cook Xiao Wang Nephew (The Wang family) Son, nephew, cousin 9th grader Sen Wang Nephew Nephew, cousin Cook Ken Zhao Nephew Nephew, cousin Waiter Sue Lin Kens wife In-law Waitress As previously mentioned, Mrs. Chen was the center around whom this family was structured. Table 5-4 shows this complex of rela tionships between the owners and the workers. Even though they were relatives, due to the roles in the restaurant, they ha d to adjust their ways of interacting according to Chinese cultural norms. Mr. Chen once complained about the compli cated relationship with the relatives: I did not want to talk about it [] because it [t hem working here] in fact helped me a lot. Of course I helped them a lot too but I did not talk about it The thing is it is too much! She [refers to Mrs. Wang, his sister-in-law] is my employee, but she is also a relative and I am younger than she is. We helped a lot to get them to the U.S. They want money we lend them, no matter how much they need. Sometimes I feel so upset [] She went to New York, with her son, I did not take off her sala ry for one day. But if she works overtime, she 139

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asked for extra money. I told my wife to ju st give the money to her sister. Dont be bothered by such little amount of money. If we want to do business or make big money, you need to be more generous. Somehow they are your tools to earn money I thought they are relatives that I should take care of them, but don t treat me like a fool. In fact I have higher status than you are, but you dont treat me like a fool [] It is difficult. I think that being a manager you should be fair, treat all the employees as the same Even the American employers would tell me that you need to be fair. Some employees think I am unfair to them, to be honest, I am sometimes But I still needed to show the fairness and so I have to (say something to the relatives in front of other workers) and I told Ken that I had to show them I also asked you to do the same thing. (Informal conversation # 105, 061019-1, line156-207, translated4) Also because of different power levels in the restaurant, the relationships varied politically. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Chen had most opport unities to interact with people outside the family, and so they had more information and resources. They did not always share the information with the workers. At the same time, it seemed that the workers had their own resources too. Ken, as the waiter, had many opportunities to interact with people from outside of the family. He also was the one who had the hi ghest educational background in the family. He bought a laptop with a customers help. He installe d internet and learned how to surf the Web to get information. He asked me how to check fli ght tickets on line, and he started to do it for himself and the other workers. He learned how to take a shuttle bus to the airport. Once Mrs. Chen asked me to book the tickets and check th e schedule for her when I knew that Ken had learned how to do it. She told me that Ken was not sure about it. It seemed like Mrs. Chen did not trust Kens ability so Ken di d not offer information anymore. Family Values Just as Chinese culture highly valued family, the family members had their own values and beliefs about the concept of family. The previous paragraphs have already shown how they treated family members differently. Even though they tried to be professional at work, 4 All the translated quotes are transcribed original in Chinese and then translated by the researcher. 140

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relationships were complicated and it was hard for them to totally divide the two parts of their lives. This was more difficult because of their ve ry strong faith in the family (the concept of family). They trusted each other and believed in working together for a good future. This explains how they were able to be physically separated from each other but still mentally hold on to each other. The family understood that they needed to sacr ifice their present lives for a better future and they were willing to work long hours without a social life or vacation. However, they created specific space and time for family, and the family only. In the restaurant, only the family members got together at the specially designated area to have lunch. The table and the boot h that was close to the kitche n had become the family dining table. Though without written (or even orally) announced, all ot her workers seemed understand this rule and did not cross the line. It was lik e an unspoken rule for the other workers to know that the family area was a sect ion for family members only even when the other workers needed to help doing some jobs close to the kitchen during the non-peak hours, they would not take the family table. The chef, Mr. Wang, would cook something more fuzhouese for the family. After I built rapport with them, I was seen as a family guest and was included in the family area. Sometimes dumplings, sometimes fish balls from New York City, or even hand-made soy milk, were the family special. If lunch time was unconsciously reserved for the family members working in the restaurant, dinner time was purposely reserved for the core families to be together, each in their own home. Both mothers pl ayed the important roles in the two situations. Mrs. Chen, the owners wife, would take off earlier (around 10p m) than Mr. Chen to go back home and cook dinner for the family while Mr. Chen stayed at the restaurant to finish all the final checking. Mrs. 141

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Chen complained to me several times that she wa s very tired of cooking, but that the children did not want to eat restaurant food so she had to co ok for them late at night. In spite of this, she was actually happy and they all cherished this period of time when both parents came home; it was the only time for the whole family to be awake and at home together. The family may not have been in the habit of sharing talk, but the ad ults tried to make time for the family after their whole day of tiring work. The children tried hard to stay up so they could spend some time with their parents. They all quietly showed their way of caring about each other. Even if the children had gone to bed alrea dy, Mrs. Chen would wake them up when the dinner was ready, around midnight. When I star ted to visit the famil y, I couldnt understand why the parents could not let the children eat at regular hours, like seven and go to bed at nine. Mrs. Chen told me she had tried, but the childr en never listened. Also it would be difficult for her to prepare food for them at six or seven in the evening. The children re fused to eat food from the restaurant. They insisted Mrs. Chen cook fo r dinner. Mrs. Chen would leave the restaurant around 11 at night and go immediately to the kitche n at home as soon as she arrived and start to cook and get the food ready for when Mr. Chen arri ved. They ate dinner and then it was time for the children to go to bed after midnight. The parents watched some more TV, took showers, cleaned up and went to bed. Even though they di d not talk to each other during this family time, they all showed their way of caring for each other and cherish the time to be together. A similar thing happened in the dormitor y. Mrs. Wang became the mother figure of the dormitory family she took care of her own child, her nephews, and her nephews wife. This is so typical in Chinese culture. Mrs. Wang would finish her work in the restaurant first and go home to cook. One by one, the other workers woul d get back and take turns to take a shower. They would sit at the dining table chatting whil e they waited their turn to shower. Even though 142

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there were Mexican workers living in the same dorm with them. Sometimes workers from outside of the family lived there too. They were not part of this family unit. Different to the Chen family, where the four family members would s it in the four corners of the family room while waiting for the dinner, the worker family in the dorm would chat loudly while waiting for dinner. The specially prepared dinner (not the restaurant dishes), and the sitting together at the dining table were rituals of the families to keep them connected. They did not need to talk about the importance of th e family/families, but the connection was very powerful in their daily life. Education Expectations Influenced by Confucian cultural values, most Chinese believe in the power of education. This shows up in the hierarchy of occupations: Among the four basic occupations, scholar is at the top of the social order, then either farmer or business man, and then laborer. However, not all citizens can afford education. Even though educati on is obligatory for all citizens in modern times, a lot of children stay home to help parents in rural areas. Educational background of the family members The members of this extended family came from a rural village where surviving is more important than education. The adult members of the family were not highly educated, either because of economic issues or historical/political reasons. Mr. Chen dropped out from middle school in China. He can read and write in Chinese but not in English. Mr. Chen actually came from a highly educated family whose father was a college graduate. However, afte r the Cultural Revolution, educati on was not the only guarantee for a good life. A lot of parents who suffered in the Cultural Revolution did not encourage children to pursue higher education anymore. A ccording to Mr. Chen, he does not like schooling 143

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at all. He said he started doing his own business at age 18 when China and Taiwan had just begun to have economic relations. Mrs. Chen did not finish middle school either She does not read much, and seldom writes in Chinese. Villagers in the region of China sh e is from, including these families, still follow some traditional beliefs such as arranged marriages, and they value having sons rather than daughters. Mrs. Chen told me that their marriag e was pretty traditional. Relatives introduced Mr. Chen to her, and they soon got married. Both Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Wang feel very proud of themselves for having sons. Mrs. Chen does not read and write in English, but can use very limited English to communicate with the cashiers and customers, which she calls restaurant English. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Wang had much formal education. They do not read or write in Chinese well, and they did not learn any English before coming to the States. That was why they could only work in the kitchen. Mrs. Wang me ntioned once that she would like to learn restaurant English if its possibl e. But she also said that it was too hard for her to learn. Among all the workers, Ken is the only one who completed his high school education. Sen and Sue dropped out of high school before they came to the U.S. In the dorm, Ken was the one who helped other family members to get informa tion from the world. Ken and Sue went to a free English conversation class when they had just ar rived in the U.S. They were more willing than the others to learn and practice their English. Ken was a popular waiter in the restaurant and would try to chat with the cu stomers, which was a chance to practice his English speaking. Sometimes he asked the customers for help. He used his laptop and internet to keep in constant contact with his son in China. He learned to use th e internet as a tool to connect with the outside world, to check flight tickets, and to get information someone needed about things like the on144

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line drivers license tests, or schedules for shuttle transportatio n. Even so, Ken had very limited English ability, as demonstrated by the technological aids such as an on-line dictionary, or Chinese versions of programs installed on his la ptop. With these tools, he could function more effectively and independently. Table 5-5. Education and language b ackgrounds of the family members Name Also known as Age Educational background Language background John (Maoping) Chen Mr. Chen 40* ~10th grade Chinese reading and writing, basic English speaking/listening Jane (Biqiu) Zhao Mrs. Chen 37* ~ 8th grade Basic Chinese Reading/Writing, limited Eng. Speaking/listening Tim (Tin) Chen Chen brother 10* 4th grade Fluent/accented Eng. Speaking, limited Chinese reading/writing Sam (Chong) Chen Chen brother 15* 7th grade* Fluent/accented Eng. Speaking, limited Chinese reading/writing Zhiyong Wang Mr. Wang 42* 6th grade Limited Chinese Reading/Writing No Eng. Speaking/listening Biqin Zhao Mrs. Wang 39* 5th grade Limited Chinese Reading/Writing No Eng. Speaking/listening Xiao Wang Son of Wang family 17* 8th grade Chinese Reading/Writing Limited Eng. Speaking/listening Ai Wang (in China) Daughter of Wang family Ken Zhao Mrs. Chens nephew 27* High School Chinese Reading/Writing basic Eng. Speaking/listening Sue Lin Kens wife 21* High School Chinese Reading/Writing limited Eng. Speaking/listening Sen Wang Mrs. Chens nephew 19* ~10th grade Chinese Reading/Writing limited Eng. Speaking/listening Jianan Zhao Mrs. Chens nephew 19* ~10th grade Chinese Reading/Writing limited Eng. Speaking/listening Ming Liu Mr. Wangs cousin 40+ High School Chinese Reading/Writing no Eng. Speaking/listening *age in 2007 Tables 5-5 shows the educational and language backgrounds of all family members. We can see in the tables that the adult members of the family did not pursue higher education. Still, 145

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they believe that it would be better for their children to obtain as much education as possible. I analyze education, language and l iteracy further in Chapter 6. Attitudes and expectation towards education When I first visited the Chen family, I believ ed that the parents did not care about their childrens education. They had ne ver shown up at any of the parents meetings in school for the children, and they did not ask to check their ch ildrens work. Then I found out how wrong I was. I judged the parents by using a mainstream standa rd but did not consider two important issues. First, from traditional Chinese culture, parents trust teachers in school and show the respect by not getting involved in school. Also they believe that if the te acher asks for a meeting with parents, it means the child had gotten into trouble. In a conversation about schooling and teaching, I asked Mr. Chen: What do you think of the schools and teachers in the U.S.? He said, Humm I think the teachers in school are helping (the kids). If they dont, we need to solve the problems by ourselves [] Teachers normally they just teach, right? Even if kids want to learn, it is hard for teachers to take care of so many students at the same time (Interview John Chen, 051116-2, line387-403, translated) Secondly, the parents are not confident in de aling with people from academic/mainstream society. Chinese parents normally show authority in front of th e children. The parents couldnt speak English well and they are not familiar with American school culture. They cannot check the assignments for the children also because they did not have enough academic ability. The other family also believed that the educatio n in the U.S. is much better than it is in China. When I asked Mr. Wang how he felt about Am erican schools, he told me that he had not been in contact with the teacher or the school. He still insisted th at the schools in the U.S. are much better than in China: 146

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The American schools are definitely better th an the Chinese schools [] Now, I tell you, in America, in America, teachers teach in school [] of course the teachers are good [] teachers are always good (here) [] In Chin a some teachers resign from school only after teaching for a few days, they dont care about the students [] In China, teachers just dont care [] Like Sen, his school (in China) students even dare to fight with the teachers here in the U.S., how do we dare to do it?! In high school there are polices in school, right? [] so police can handle the bad guys but in China they dont care (Interview Maoping Wang, 051114-1, line610-642, translated) Even though they were not too visibly involve d in childrens school ac tivities, the parents did care about the education. The first evidence was that they took me into their family as a free tutor. I later found out from the children that they had hired a tu tor before I provided my free tutor for Sam as Sam requested. Even though they did not trust people easily, they were willing to take me into the family because they knew that I could help their children. They also showed me some of their concerns a bout the childrens edu cation. They may not have discussed their expectations with the children, bu t they did hope the children coul d have a better education in the dream land. In the beginning when I asked them what they expected from the children, they could not give me an exact answer. The children did not know about the education system. They did not have the concept of college education. When I first asked the children if they wanted to go to college in the future, they told me no. They also asked me what I am doing. I told them I was a student. I said I had been a student for more than 25 years. Sam was shocked. He said he would die if he had to stay as a student for that long. Howeve r, few months later, he told me he wanted to go to the best university in the U.S. When I said that you said you dont want to go to college last time I asked you. He said No, I never said it. It might be th at after I became involved in their family, some of the conversations, or interview questions made them aware of some issues and they started to discuss the issues at home. 147

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The parents changed their answers after a few months of my visits too. In the beginning they said they did not have any expectations on the children. If they wanted to work in the restaurant, its fine. A few months later they all told me they wanted the children to get better jobs than working in the restau rant. During the interview, whic h was conducted after I had been interacting with the family for half a year, Mr. Chen first expressed his attitude to his childrens education as I want them to get as much education as possible, or I did not need to put so much effort to encourage them (to study) Even if they do not want to, I would force them to (go to school/get education) . (Inte rview, line 192-196). He also di rectly responded to my question of what are the expectations for your children? and expressed his expectations that children be educated: Ivy: Do you have any expectations for them (the children)? John: What? Ivy: Do you have any expectation for Sam and Tim? John: Oh, I have high expectations for them. Ivy: About what? John: umm Get as much education as possible. Ivy: Why? John: Huh? Ivy: Why do you think so? John: Because you will be nobody if you dont get education in this world. Ivy: What about the restaurant business? Isnt it good enough? John: huh? Oh, I dont like him [them] to do Ivy: The restaurant work? John: I dont want him (them) to take the same path as I did. Ivy: Why? Too difficult? John: Yes. I didnt have any choice. (Interview John Chen, 051116-2, line 306-321, translated) Mrs. Chen specifically mentioned that she would save every penny that she earned to provide her children the best education they could get: Jane : I hope he can study hard, get in to the best university. I I if I need to be thrifty, I will do it. I must pr ovide him to go to the best university. Just see if he can make it. 148

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Ivy: Why do you want them to go to the university? Jane : Huh? Because like me, it s so tiring to run a restaurant Only if (they) can get to the university, Ok, then they can (depend on) themselves Ivy: (You mean) sit in the office ? Jane : Yes, its more comfortable to work in the office. Myself you see (I work) day and night Ivy: Yeah, its tough Jane : Right so sometimes I tell them wh en I get home at night, I say, you need to study hard, right I can spe nd as much money as needed for them to study hard (Interview Jane Zhao (Mrs. Chen), 051112, line 519-531, translated) Mr. and Mrs. Wang also held the belief that Amer ican education is much better than it is in China and they also expect Xiao to get as much education as possible. They want Xiao to have a stable life. Mr. Wang said We expect him to go to college. Humm [] if he can get in [] Or if he can be a restaurant owner, that woulnt be too bad either. But (of course) it will be the best if he can get in college. We will try our best to support him if he is able to. (Interview Maoping Wang, 051114-1, line528-535, translated) The adults of the family have dreams for their children. They did not have a chance to have an education, or they had bad experiences in sc hool in China. As a result, they have high expectations for education for their ch ildren, and for American education. Summary In this chapter I used the macro-level zoom to look for the cultural discourses that the family created from the experiences of becoming immigrants in the United States, and from the cultural traditions that they carried with them and embedded within thei r daily lives. The macrozoom focuses on the sociocultural dimensions of the life history (Pamphilon, 1999, p. 395) and so I discussed culturally specific themes and relationships between the individuals and society. The American dream was the motivation for the family to immigrate to the new land. They were willing to suffer and to sacrifice their pr esent moments for a better future. Their immigrant lives changed their ways of living. Their social interactions were limited to the restaurant, and 149

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150 the extension from the restaurant to the Satell ite Chinatown, which allowed them to maintain a connection with their hometown. At the same time, they used well the resources they could get in order to connect to the mainstream society in the university town. In addition to their new lives, they carried their original cult ural beliefs and values with them and live according to these beliefs. Implicit cu ltural rules such as the hierarchical structure of interpersonal relationships, family values a nd educational expectations still had an impact on their ways of living.

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CHAPTER 6 STYLES OF NARRATIONS AND NARRATIVE THEMES In this chapter I present the meso-zoom level of analysis which focuses on the individuals processing storying (Pamphilon, 1999, p.396). At this level, I describe the styles of narration, which include the ways family me mbers communicate, and their narrative themes. I seek out the thematic fields constructed by each of the family members, and discuss the personal values that were influenced by the immi grant family cultural experiences. Styles of Narration The styles of narration here in dicate the ways that family members communicate with one another. Rosenthal (1993) summari zes four styles of narration as narrative process: Narration, description, argumentation, theorizing. The length of the narration also can tell the ways people communicate. Within these families, their ways of communicating are mostly short and goal oriented. I discuss their oral styles in three categories: Oral Styles: the family members do not always talk with each ot her but sometimes only comment and request when th ey believe they need to. Situated Languages: the family members unconsciously switch languages according to different situations and the obj ects they are talking to. Functional Literacy in Daily Life: Most of th e family members were not highly educated so they developed their own ways to functionalize their literacy other than conversations. By this I refer to alternative ways they used to function in communication and to survive in their daily lives other th an reading and writing. Oral Styles between Parents and Children Heath (1983) describes the oral traditions of the Roadville and Trackton communities (White and Black working-class re spectively): Even though they do it in different formats, both the White and Black children needed to learn to tell stories; the former needed to tell true stories about lives, the latter needed to te ll good stories that at tract the audience. 151

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Compared with the White and Black working class families in Heaths study, the workingclass immigrant Chinese families in my study do not have a tradition for child ren to learn to tell stories. In Chinese culture, children are supposed to listen to the adu lts and not to express their opinions in conversations. Adults do not see children as conversa tional partners. Each character in the family story has its sub-consci ous or cultural place in oral situations. For example, the parents give commands to the children, and the children do not even attempt to negotiate or argue. Professional Chinese immigrant families have more access to the mainstream and so some may develop a different way of communication the parents may talk with the children during family time and both parents and children may share emotions and ideas with each other. However, due to these parents long hours of work ing in the restaurant, the parents and children in these working-class restaurant families did no t have too much time getting together to talk. Even when they were together, parents were not in the habit of sharing or listening to stories. The Chen family did not chat with each othe r even in their reserved family time. When they talked, they had a special purpose for the t alk. For example, the children needed to tell the parents that they needed money for lunch, they needed supplies for school, or they wanted to go to Art class, and so on. The parents talked to children in commands: Do your homework, wash the dishes, go to bed, and go take a shower. When they were all in the restaurant, they chatted with each other but not in a conversational wa y. The two elder cousins, Ken and Sen, would tease Sam, Tim, and sometimes Xiao. They seldom just talked to one person; they used he, and him more than you in their verbal interac tions. There were some topics they never talked about. For example, these parents still believed that they were res ponsible for solving any 152

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financial problems. This had nothing to do with th e children so they never talked about it with the whole family. In this section I am describi ng the ways I observed in which the family developed a way of communicating for functional purposes. During their family time, the midnight dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Chen kept telling the brothers to study hard; they asked them if they had done their homework assignments, if they had done thei r chores, or if they had enough money. Sam described the content of their da ily conversation: I just tell th em what (I want) for dinner and what (I want) for breakfast, give me twenty dollars for tomorrow, thats it . or . (when) I need to ask for lunch money . Tim had a sim ilar response: (I) tell them to give me money. They came back to say Hi, are you stil l alive? OK and goodbye. There were no conversations between the parents and children: they told each other things and made sure their needs were fulfilled. From the parents perspectives, they believed that since they provide d the children a roof to keep them warm and food to keep them fed, th ey had completed most of their responsibilities as parents. They had a business to run, and they expected the children to understand the priority of the family. As Chinese parents, they did not share their emotions, problems, frustrations, or worries with children; they only made sure the children ha d everything they needed. They did not express their love to their children or tell them how they wanted them to behave; they communicated based on unspoken beliefs and values. They sometimes said it as complaints, such as wh en Mrs. Chen talked to me in front of the children. She would say I work so hard for them I dont need to do so much if its just for myself. I could spend less money on myself but I wa nt to give them the best. She also told the children in front of me: See, I work so hard, so you need to study hard. The children, on one 153

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hand, they understood, and followed the parents o rder to stay home all the time because they knew that as a family member, each of them had to sacrifice for the family future. However, on the other hand, they wanted to have more time to be with their parents. They could not express their wish to the parents, but they complained to me: My Dad doesnt want me to call him. He said if the customers call, it wont be a good idea. In Chinese cultural traditions, parents do not praise their children too much because it might make them be arrogant. Also, modesty is one of the virtues in Chinese culture. Thus, the parents only complained about th eir children to me. Mr. Chen comp lained, I always told them to call their Mom But they still called me . The children understood the unspoken roles that their father and mother played by. The children chose to call the Dad but not Mom wh en something happened in school. They knew Mom took care of the family issues but Dad was in charge of the outside world. Mr. Chen also had more skills in deali ng with English speaking people. Mr s. Chen played her role doing the house chores, and repeatedly reminded the children to do chores. As Mrs. Chen told me: They said I am too nagging. They said I talk too much. They dont wa nt to talk or listen to me. The short conversation style impacted the chil dren too. I first noticed that Tim seldom directly answered my questions or responded to me in conversation. He always asked Huh? so I had to repeat my questions or whatever I was speaking. Then he would pause, answer, or just say: I dont know. I discovered that both Mr. Ch en and Sam had this same habit. For example, when I first interviewed Mr. Chen, he kept re peating my questions and had a lot of Huh: Ivy: When do you talk to your children? John: Normally? Ivy: Yes. John: Not regularly, hahaha [] Ivy: Do they talk to them? 154

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John: Huh? Ivy: Do they tell you about what happen in school or. [] Ivy: In what situation you would get mad? John: Huh? Ivy: Like what kind of situ ation made you mad with them? (Interview, John Chen, 051116-1, line 4-63, translated) When Sam and Tim answered my questions, they had similar reactions even to similar questions: Ivy: Normally if you want to call, whom do you call? Sam : Huh? Ivy: Whom would you like to call ? Your Dad or your Mom? [] Ivy: So do you talk to your parents everyday? Sam : Huh? Ivy: Do you talk to your parents everyday? (Interview, Sam, 051118-1, line 41-43, 54-56.) Ivy: How do you communicate with your parents? Tim : Ah ah ah Ivy: How do you when? Tim : Uh they ask me something [] Ivy: Daytime? When? Tim : Uh, uh, uh Ivy: What? What? Do you call them? Tim : Uh? Ivy: Do you call them? (Interview, Tim, 051118-3, line 32-35, 83-87.) They did not learn how to chat and so it was hard for them when they were asked to share their feelings; they just answered questions with exact an swers. Their conversations were more goal-oriented, so when they were asked questi ons that were not relate d to their daily needs, they needed to pause and think before they figured out how to answer the questions or to react. Situated Language Use According to Context, Themes and Cultural Roles The language the family members used varied according to the cont ext, the topic, the cultural role they were in, and the conversation partner. At home or to each other the families 155

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used a dialect from southern China, the Fuzhoue se. The brothers Sam and Tim spoke English to me most of time while the other family member s spoke Mandarin Chinese with me. The brothers also used English in academic environments, but used their Chinese dialect for daily living. However, they were not always able to bridge the languages at the same level: They had a hard time explaining schooling in Chinese, and they also did not have a chance to share their Chinese living styles with peers in E nglish at school. All the parents switched dialects to Mandarin Chinese whenever they needed to talk to me or even speaking to each other when I was with them. Sometimes Mrs. Wang would forget that I did not speak the dialect and would speak Fuzhouese to me; Xiao would translate for me when it happened. The patterns and contents of their conversat ions showed each pers ons situated cultural role. The family members unconsciously switched their languages when they interacted with different people in different situations. They al so created different topics for talk when interacting with different pe ople according to the cultural/ gender roles they played. When I was there, each of them would talk to me, but not to each other. My role in the family was not categorized according to gende r; I was a professional. In addition, as a Taiwanese, Mr. Chen saw me as a neutral a dult who could be his talking partner. After interacting with the family for more than a year, Mr. Chen even talked to me about his beliefs about education in front of the school after meeti ng with the teachers, he talked with me twice for an hour. He also asked my opinions about Chinese/Taiwanese politics. Mrs. Chen, on the other hand, would ask about my life. She asked if I had enough to eat and about personal issues including my family, my study, and my life. She always showed how she cared about my health. She would complain about the children by usi ng he or them again. Even though she was always complaining, it was her way to show that she really cared abou t the children. Sam might 156

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ask me questions regarding his computer. Tim would ask me questions like Are you going to stay here tonight? They seemed to believe that men discussed political issues together while women only talked about families, children, and relationships. All the adult family members would greet me whenever I visited them in the restaurant. The children, even though they ha d more opportunities to directly interact with me, did not greet me if no adult was around to remind them to do so. Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Wang would ask them to say, How are you doing? to Auntie or Teacher. Even when I visited Sam and Tim at home, they came to open the door to let me in, but when I went in, I did not see anyone. Sam would s it back down in front of the computer after he had opened the door. Tim was often somewhere in the family room and did not come out to say hi to me. I had to force them to say Hi to me when I visited. Xiao had a very similar reaction whenever I visited him. He would not come out of his room to greet me. I had to call his name loudly, talk to him, and keep asking him questions. Xiao did not speak much, even to his parents. That sometimes made Mrs. Wang become even more talkative. Mrs. Wang would repeatedly remind Xiao to study, to wash hi s clothes, or to eat. Xiao would not respond. He could be invisible sometimes. That did not stop Mrs. Wang but made it look like she talked to herself all the time. Almost all of the family members spoke more than one language (or dialect) and they all understood when and where to switch their langu ages. The parents swit ched their languages constantly in the restaurant where most of thei r social life happened. They spoke to the insiders of insiders their own family members in Fuzhouese. They switched to the restaurant English when they talked to the customers. They immediately switched to Mandarin Chinese to me, to another chef who was originally from Taiwan, and to other part-time Chinese workers 157

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who came from various parts of mainland China. They code-switched automatically: it was like their second nature to do so. Th eir language usage indicated the relationship they had with different people, and through daily conversations showed how they situated different meanings. Functional Literacy in Daily Life Reading and writing at work As mentioned in Chapter 5, most of the fa mily members were not highly educated; the family members did not use much written language in their daily lives, and the small amount of writing that occurred was at work. In the rest aurant, there was a calendar hanging on the wall. Some of the workers names were written on the days of the calendar they had to work. It was interesting to notice that this chart was for the American workers only. Sometimes the American workers wrote their names in themselv es, other times Mr. or Mrs. Chen wrote the names. They did not need to write to take customer s orders. The computer system was set up so the order takers only had to click on a function key or to move the arrow keys to select the dishes. That would send a message to the kitchen where it printed out, was picked up, and cooked. Mr. Chen kept all the bills and took care of ordering the equipment and materials for the restaurant. Most of the time he placed the orders by phone, but he had to check on the invoices, the bills, and the amount of money earned and sp ent. Mr. and Mrs. Chen normally counted the money, wrote out the numbers on a piece of paper and rolled up the papers each week with the bills. These records were kept on the desk in their house. Other than these, I did not see anyone writi ng a single word, except for signing their names on certain documents. Even for signing their names, I had to teach Mrs. Wang to write her name in English when she had just arrived in the town and needed to sign documents for Xiaos schooling. She asked me to confirm the spelling of her name and teach her to write it correctly. 158

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Reading habits Male family members read a Chinese newspaper sometimes when they got the old newspapers from the restaurants suppliers. I found no book written in Chinese in either the Chens or the Wangs house. There were, however, some English children s books in the Chens house, including a youth dictionary. According to Sam, most of the books were gifts from teachers. Some were comic books. The interesting thing is that Sam cl aimed in his interview that he does not like comic books at all. Xiao did not read much in the traditional sense nor did he talk too much, but he was curious about his new world. He liked to walk to Wal-Mart, which was only 5 minutes away from the Dorm house. He liked to read the la bels on the products at Wal-Mart and he could spend hours just walking around ai sles and reading the labels. Reading and writing on the computer There was a computer in the Chens house. Sam used it most of time, and would play online games a lot. They asked me to help them install some Chinese software so Mr. and Mrs. Chen could use the computer to communicate with their relatives in China and watch Chinese movies. When I started to visit the family, th is was the only computer in the family. Soon Ken bought a laptop with a part-time student workers help. He an d his wife used the Internet to connect with relatives in China a nd to see their son via the web-cam. Mr. and Mrs. Wang then asked me to help them find a good, light and cheap laptop for their daughter in China. They told me that was what their daughter want ed, and they had to send one to her. I brought the new laptop to the workers house, showed it to everyone, and taught them how to get on-line. The workers did not have computers and were interested in learning more. 159

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Ken convinced Sen and Xiao to get laptops and to share the Internet together. I mailordered one for Xiao, but Sen asked me to take hi m to the store to buy his. Sen and Xiao used his laptop to watch Chinese movies and to play Chinese online games. Afte r they both had their laptops, I helped them to install an instant me ssenger program on each computer, and added my contact to their lists. Oral versus written literacy Since the family members were not in the habit of writing, except for the minimal amount they did on their laptops, they relied on their or al language a lot. This meant they had to remember everything because they did not write anything down in an agenda, or take notes. I wrote my phone numbers on a piece of paper and pos ted it on the refrigerator for them to contact me. However, there were several times that Mrs. Chen told me that she couldnt call me because my phone number had disappeared from her cell phone list. They used called numbers to track my number. If they did not call me for a while, the numbers were pushed out of the list. When they could not find my number anymore, they had to wait for me to call them. Even after I installed the instant messenger on their computers, th ey still preferred to talk to me instead of writing/chatting online with me. They did not know how to send an email; they were just not in the habit of communicating in writing. The childrens school-based literacy Even the children lacked the habit of writing and preferre d face-to-face oral communication to writing. I assumed that at leas t Sam, who played online games a lot, would communicate with me more online, but he did not chat with me often. Most of the time, I would greet him first and ask him how everything was. A particular incident alerted me to his preference for oral communication. Once he asked me to help him with his math problem. He called me online and asked me if I could go to visit him now. I was unhappy because he 160

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always wanted me to go immediately. I said no, I had work to do and asked him if I could go later that week, or during the weekend. He said he had a test the next day and he needed immediate help. I asked him how many questions he had, and he to ld me there were a lot of questions. I told him to list the questions online, and I tried to tell him how to read each question to find a way to solve it. He kept saying that he could not understand me. So I called him next and repeated what I had written in the instant messenger. He still co uldnt get it. Then he insisted on coming to my apartment, even though it was pouring outside, and it was peak hours at the restaurant. He begged his Dad to drop him off when his father was out delivering food. When he arrived, I found that actually he had only seven questions to do and it took me only 10 minutes to teach him. It was hard for me to understand the logi c in the beginning. Why didnt he pay more attention when we talked on the phone or in the instant messenger? It took his father 20 minutes to drive back home, another 30 minutes to bri ng Sam to my apartment, and I only needed 10 minutes for the questions. Wouldnt it have been eas ier for all of us to just discuss it online or over the phone? Later I realized that it was easy for Mr. Chen since he was driving around town delivering food anyway, and it was easier for Sa m to stop by for 10 minutes to get what he wanted. He was not familiar with the written form of communication, or written teaching. The computer for him was only a tool to communi cate with game players using specific game language, but not for teaching and learning. Neither Sam nor Tim liked to do their assignments on their own. When Sam needed help with his homework assignments, he would call me, or he would ask his Mom to call me and he would ask, or beg me to help him face-to-face Normally I would ask him how much work he needed to complete. I tried several times, but he al ways said a lot, even if there were only four 161

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or five questions. Once he told me he had six page s of math questions to do. I told him to work on the questions by himself, and leave those that he couldnt answer, had difficulties with, or did not understand. I told him that he had to do the assignments by himself first, so he would know what his problems were. I also would not be able to do each of the questions with him since I did not have very much time. I made an appointment with him, told him I would visit him in the restaurant around four in the afternoon on a Saturday. When I arrived, he was not there. Other people told me that he was out delivering food with his father. I had to wait for him at the restaurant. When he came back, I asked him if he ha d tried to finish the assignment. He said yes, but he only did one or two that I had already discussed with him online. This might have been the influence of the communication styles that the families all relied on: immediate help and close a ttention. Similar things happened with Tim as well. I bought Tim some childrens books, and I asked him to read them. He would not read one unless I sat down with him and listened to him read it to me. If I asked Tim to write anything related to the book, or even just to do his homework assignments, he would not do it unless I sat at the same table (even if I was helping Sam when Tim was writing) At the beginning I thought they might just want to get more attention so they were compet ing for my help. Later, I found they could not do academic work independently. Either they did no t have enough confidence to do the academic work by themselves, or they just had not establ ished a way to do the work. For Tim, it was also obvious that even though he was born in the States, he still had a hard time in reading, especially with phonics. Xiao was very passive in academic learning. He had never asked me to help with his school work. I had to go to his room, and ask him to show me what he had got from school (if I asked him what he learned, he would tell me he did not understand too much). He did not talk to 162

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me or to his parents about his schooling. He di d not ask for help either. His mother bought a bilingual electronic dictionary fo r him but he did not use it too often. I forced him to check every word that he did not understand using the dic tionary and write it on the handout, in his notebook or on his homework assignments. He told me it was impossible and he could not understand the word. He could do math well, especially thos e math questions that did not use verbal descriptions. He skipped the ques tions that had more than a one-line description. He put all the notes, worksheets, and handouts th at he got from school in a box even though most of the worksheets were incomplete. Starting from the second year of my study, he moved from middle school to high school where he ha d a language course for ESL stude nts. When I asked him, he would tell me that he was getting be tter and understanding more in school. Narrative Themes in the Families Life Stories In Pamphilons (1999) Zoom model, the focus of this level (the meso) is across the whole of a life history as we seek out the thematic fields constructed by [individuals] (p.410). I present two overarching themes in this section: The new immigrant families: The Chens and the Wangs. Individual life stories of thr ee new immigrant children: different histories of coming to the new land mean different struggles for these ch ildren who must learn to live between two cultural worlds. For each theme, I will present sub-themes that I found expressed in the data. The New Immigrant Families Both of the families are new immigrant families." Even though they went through similar experiences to immigrate into th e United States, they had different family stories that led to making the decision and also were on the different stages of immigrants. Th e Chen family, as the pioneer of the extended family, had suffered longer separations in order to build a foundation for the other family members to work from. Howeve r, they had developed more connections to 163

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mainstream society and were trying harder to become Chinese-Americans. On the other hand, the Wang family had a shorter history in the U.S. and were still working to establish their lives here. The Wangs, as new immigrants, were living a Chinese life in the U.S. Becoming Chinese Americans Mr. Chen had gone through tough times before he started his own bus iness in the college town. Back in China, he did not believe in th e Chinese educational system anymore due to the influence of the Cultural Revolu tion, even though his father was highly educated. He said that [] the environment is important [] like in Ch ina it was hard (for someone my age) to get good education [] (Interview, line 185-187). Thus he dropped out of high school and started in business on the street. He told me stories from his life in China: I am really interested in Taiwanese political issues [] I have been familiar with the Taiwanese characters since I was little [] I had a lot of Taiwanese friends [] I used to do business with them, a lot [] in Fuzhou [] I had good relationships with a lot of Taiwanese politicians [] I knew both the good guys and bad guys [] it didnt matter who they were, as long as there was m oney, they were good business partners. [] I started little I started ( doing business) early my younger brother and I started to earn a lot of money when we were only 15 or 16 [] we started it wi th my uncle.. it was when the southern China starte d to have business connection with Taiwan [] there were only two tax-free stores, both were in Fuzhou [] It was easy to make money in China back then doing tobacco business, it was not a big deal though it was illegal [] And in China, after you got some money, you should leave [to oversea]. (Informal Conversation #94, lin e 132-143; 291-312. translated) He claimed that he knew some well-known Taiwanese people, alt hough some were a bit notorious. He also told me that his first bu siness involved illegal m oney laundering but it was for survival. Although he seemed proud of his su ccess, he did not want his children to have such a life. Thus he chose to settle in a college town where the family would not have too close of a contact with New York City Ch inatown, especially the gangsters. 164

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He purposely chose to buy a house in a commu nity that was six miles away from the restaurant so the childrens lives would not have anything to do with the restaurant. In the following conversation, he talked about how he wanted his children to have a simple life in this small town. His life was cente red on the family. He did not want to socialize with people outside of the family and believed that life in this town could help them avoid the messy, even the bad infl uences on the children. Ivy: Most people like to go to New York John: Yes. Ivy: So you are special, you chose this ru ral town Any specific reasons? John: Humm. Its better for children to study. Yesh. [] Ivy: Do you think its harder (for you to live) in the rural town? John: Its the same. But the environment here is much better. Ivy: Uh-huh. John: New York is more messy. Yeah. Ivy: But there are not many friends here. John: Friends its not a big deal [] Ivy: So you dont have any friends? Here? John: I have many friends, just I dont want to contact them. Ivy: Here? Ivy: What kinds of friends? John: What kinds of friends old friends that we have known for long time yeah Ivy: But didnt you say you just moved here around four years ago? John: Oh, you meant local friends? Ivy: Yes. John: I dont have local friends. [] Ivy: Why? Just before you moved here? John: No. local because I am really busy, right? [] Ivy: Dont you feel bored? John: No, I dont feel bored. If I had time to go out with the children I wouldnt feel bored We are too busy We dont have time other than work. [] Ivy: But if its New York in New York Chinatown people get together after work John: Its more difficult Ivy: Why? John: I used to like it but it depends on age Now I dont like it 165

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(Interview John, line 455-514, translated) Because of his own background and his experiences, he wanted his children to escape from the old world (the messy, the gangs, the illegal business and the tough lives) and to have a simple and settled life in the rural small town in the U.S. Through the business, the Chens had more chan ces to connect to the outside world, and sought to raise their in social economic status. Even though Mr. Chen said that he did not like to contact or get together with friends, Mrs. Ch en kept close relationshi ps with the cultural mediators. The Chen family was more stable and so their goal was to get to work on establishing financial success in order to satisfy their immi grant goal and get established in the mainstream society if possible. The Chinese immigrants The Wang family was still at the beginning stag e of the immigrant lif e. Their hope was to let their son have a better future. As Mrs. Wa ng said, If he [Xiao] st arted working he would know how hard it was See how hard his father worked, it was for him to get more education How much schooling does he needed to get an American job? Mr. Wang talked about his life in the U.S.: It was hard to work in the restaurant [] (I needed to) get up around 10 oclock, start to take the carry-out orders [] It was hard. (I was so) tired of it [] in the U.S. [] When I had just arrived, it was even more tiring [] Everyone got tired of [work] in the U.S.. Everyone was sick of it. Only after a few years they got sick of it. (Interview Maoping Wang, 051114-1, line 369-381, translated) Living in the dormitory showed their lives as workers in the restaurant wouldnt be permanent. Especially while they owed a huge amount of money to the agency that had gotten them out of China, they needed to save ev ery penny to pay back the loan. The dormitory, although it was similar to living as a big family, was still a dormitory and not a real home. 166

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According to Mr. Chen, Mrs. Wang once argued with him and said that If this is my own house, I would clean it up [] if it is my home [] (Informal Conversation #105, 061019, line 424426, 451-455, translated). The Wang family were not feeling settled yet. They saw working in the restaurant as a beginning of their American lives. As for Mr. Wangs expectations of Xiao, he wanted him either to work as an American, which meant o ffice work instead of being a laborer, or to be a restaurant owner. They had just started their li ves as new immigrants and had their dreams ahead for them to accomplish. Living in the dormitory with a lot of workers was not their long-term goal and they did not care too much about the p resent but looked forward more to the future. Children Between Two Worlds: Three Individual Life Stories The three boys of these families came to the States at different ages and had different ways of living. The Chen brothers, Sam and Tim, did not have much chance to develop a traditional brotherhood since they were apart in two c ountries when Tim was born. Sam was alone and also separated from his parents at that time. Then Sam came to th e States and Tim went back to China, so the brothers were also separated for fe w years before they were finally reunited in the U.S. Although the brothers were now living together in the house, and they had only each other as their company most of the time, they develope d different ways of living each within their own territory at home. Sam occupied the office area and used the com puter to interact with people around the world. Tim occupied the TV in the li ving room to watch cartoons, Chinese channels and to play video games all the time. For the first summer when Xiao had just arrived in the U.S., he lived at the Chens and stayed with the Chen brothers during the daytime. Xiao was always quiet. Instead of interacting 167

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with Sam, who was closer to his age, he played and interacted with Tim more often. However, he interacted more passively. The three boys did not develop deep interactions with each other. The boys all functioned in different situati ons using different id entities in different Discourses (Gee, 2005). Each boy had his own: way s of being in the world, or forms of life which integrate[d] words, acts, va lues, beliefs, attitudes, and social identities, as well as gestures, glances, body positions and clothes (Gee, 2005, p.27) McGinnis (2007) further explains that identities of individuals are constructed through different soci al and cultural contexts. The children switched their identities in different social and cultural contexts and adopted their expected roles and ways of being in school and family. In a way, they were all quiet and shy in school. Xiao was a newcomer with limited Englis h ability and he was quiet in all places. Tim was talkative when he was with family members or close relatives playing his role as a nave youngest child of the family. Sam knew what he needed do as a student and as an elder son whether he enjoyed the roles or not. Other than those roles, they also created a third space where they could be real to themselves and maybe, have a totally new Disc ourse or, as Compton-Lily puts it (2007) an alternate discourse. As Hicks (2002) states, [the children] come to be and know with others as they engage in discourse practi ces fully saturated with cultural meaning (p.23). Children from non-mainstream families like the Chens and the Wangs experience time and space within the complex social textures (Hic ks, 2002, p.23) and so they lear n to live between two worlds. Sam: A responsible elder broth er pushed to grow up fast Sam was the one who interacted with me the most during my two years of interactions with the family. He had stronger characteristics and he knew when he needed to contact me to get assist. I had more chances to talk to him, to interact with him and to understand his worlds in different ways. 168

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At home, in Sams parents eyes, he was s elfish. As a Chinese person I understood the mothers negative comments did not necessarily m ean real criticism. Traditional Chinese culture values modesty and parents normally dont openly praise their own children. With her complaints Mrs. Chen was trying to tell me that she rarely worried about Sam. Sam could take good care of himself and the house. He played com puter games a lot, but he always remembered to finish his homework assignments without his parents reminding him. He did not hesitate to ask for help when he needed to. Although he may not have liked to take on responsibilities, he took care of the house and the family because he understood that the pare nts had to take care of the business. Because of him, the parents did not need to worry too much about the house with two children. Under the Chinese hierarchical syst em, he followed the parents expectations but deep in his mind he was eager for more attentio ns and he subconsciously fought for it with his younger brother. He complained a lot to me about how it was unfair for him to have to take responsibility for the family, his younger brother, and the house work: Ivy: you are the older one) Sam : He (the younger brother) should do some thing He can clean the house I teach him but he is too lazy to do it. I am doi ng like, almost everyday. like I washed the dishes like everyday, but he never do it! (Informal conversation #49, line36-45) Sam sacrificed his childhood to help the family reach the American Dream. He learned to be independent, and to understa nd the primary concerns of the fa mily. He told me that My dad wont let me call his cell phone onl y in an emergency cause If the customers are calling, that wont be a good idea (Interview, line 4956). Like all children of his age, he wished he could spend more time with his parents; he wi shed his parents could be with them, or take them for vacation like other parents. He knew that the whole family had to work hard to get a stable life and a better future. He swallowed his fee ling of being left out, as he described to me in 169

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the interview: Sometimesmy parent s are out of town I have to be left behind we got left (at) home, my mom and my dad went (away). (and) came back next morning (Interview, line 5771). This kind of reaction reflected a fear that had been created in his childhood when his mother left him behind to go to the U.S. He was more mature than his own age to accept the fact that his parents were busy for a good reason working hard for the future of the family. The unspoken rule for the family was: Everyone in the family has to sacrifice in a way. Cultural dilemma in the real world At home, Sams identity was a dependable son and reliable brother (he was the son in charge at home). At school, Sam was a shy and quiet Asian boy. Accordi ng to Chinese cultural beliefs, a student should respect te achers in school and be quiet. Mr. and Mrs. Chen would warn the boys Youd better behave well in school. We spent a lot of time and money expecting you to be good in school. This good in school norma lly means being well-behaved, following the teachers orders, and to getting good grades. Therefore, Sam behaved well as expected by Chinese culture. He said that Im OK in class. I was like the quiet one (informal conversation #72, line 13). When he said he was OK, it meant he did not cause trouble and he tried to do whatever he was asked from the teach er and be what he was expected to be. He believed that being quiet and nice should make him a good student: if I can make it (behave well), people will think I'm all matur e (Informal conversation #70, line 186). These beliefs are basic in Chinese culture. Students are expected to follow orders, respect the teacher, not ask too many questions (which ma y be considered as against the authorities), turn in the assignments on time, and so on. However, in American culture, this does not help him too much in making friends with peers or bel onging to certain groups. Hi s cultural be lief of being a good student may have created a gap betw een him and his peers While he thought that 170

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his classmates were all too noisy, his peers may think he was too quiet. Also because he was two years older than his peers, he was frustrat ed and annoyed by his peer s behaviors sometimes. Once he asked me about home-schooling and he said, home school is awesome (because the classmates) arewhining like a baby I think th ey are so noisy (Info rmal conversation #70, line 69-118). He also believed that he had to be res ponsible for himself, and respect the school environment. He was unconsciously marginalized from the mainstream culture because he was too different with them. He complained about th e environment and said that, . (and) I hated the school bathroom all stuff like dirty walls, and I'm going to throw up So I never went to bathroom in elementary school only like emergency! (Informal conversation #70, line 157-182). The school environmen t was not what he e xpected to have. He tried to follow the rule, the culture to be clea n and neat, but it was not what others did and he got confused and angry. He could only be shier and quieter. He was em otionally isolated in school. Without peer support, he even felt that he was unfairly treated by the teachers because he did not have peer allies. Once he told me a story about how he wa s punished in school during lunch time. He said he was answering a question to a classmate but one of the duty teachers blamed him for talking and didnt listen to his defense. Only he was punished and not the others. He told me it was totally unfair. He said, they (the teachers) blamed me because t hose kids (had) more friends (to support/ argue for them) (Informal conversation #70, line 16-18). He felt singled out without peer allies. Sam and I had this conversation again, discus sing how home-schooling is good or not for him. I told him that (if you do home schooli ng,) you wouldnt have any opportunity to meet 171

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other people. You will be always alone. He sm iled and said, That's why I'm liking about it! (Informal conversation #70, line 91 -92). Even though he started his schooling in the U.S., he may never feel like an insider in the culture but always like an outsider. Even in the world outside of school, he did not know how to interact with peers since the common ways of interaction foll ow mainstream norms and that was a world in which he was an outsider. Also because of the influence of fa mily culture (e.g. the unknown is associated with danger), the brothers were taught to stay home all the time. The pa rents believed that it would not be safe for the children to go out. They were not allowed to take a bus, and they could not visit other families from school. When asked about friends, Sam first told me that he had some friends and they interact pretty often. However, in my ac tive, frequent visiting period, which lasted for almost a year, I seldom witnessed his interactions with peers. He couldnt think of any good friends in school. Finally he told me that, I do got some neighbor fr iend . I then asked him what they did when they were together, he answered, most time they come and ask me to kind of play, I keep saying no He tried to tell me that he did not want to play with them when I asked him why I did not see them whenever I visited. Then I asked him how often they met, he said within six months I went to his house for 2 or 3 times (interview, line 184-217). I also observed him in some social occasions a few times. He felt uncom fortable interacting with people, especially with other children that are the same age as him. He could talk to the adu lts, he could play with younger children, but he did not know exactly how to socialize with peers. Sam had lived at Principal Yangs (the friend of Mrs. Tang, the realtor with connections to the Chinese community) for one summer a year before I started the study. Principal Yangs second son is as old as Sam but during the three m onths that Sam lived there, he did not talk to 172

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her son much. Not only did he feel like an outsi der in American society and school, He also didnt connect to the local Chinese commun ities, which are mostly professionals. As a 15-year-old teenager, he also wanted to socialize with girls. But he did not have a model to follow or experiences to get practice. I visited him a few times in school so I had the chance to observe his interacti ons and communications with peer s in school. He did not look passionate or active in his class. He was a qui et student in classroom : He answered to his classmates only when he was talked to but not really a chatting ways. He did not have any close friends. That may influence more when he wanted to start any relationship with the opposite sex. The only female with whom he had frequent interactions in his life was his mother. Although he also had lived in Pr inciple Yangs for a while, and ha d some interactions with me, whom he called Auntie, we were all adults. He did not know how to talk to a girl of his age. A story about a girl (All quotes in this section are from informal conversation #52, line 3-90) Once he told me a story about this girl he sa w as a friend. Then just before Valentines Day, he asked me to take him to a store to buy some gifts. He told me that he wanted to get gifts for his mother. His younger brother then broke his secret and told me he actually wanted to get a gift for a girl. I asked Sam about it but he did not want to tell me much at first. After a while he said he believed that I might be able to give hi m some advice or suggestio ns about girls so he told me: *She live in my neighborhood So the girl went to the same middle school as Sam, but they were not in the same class. Tim told me that Sam would dance with the girl which surprised me. I asked Sam to tell me the story. He said, *I just ask her today (to go to the Valentines Day dance party). she said yes sure. someone has already asked her out, but she said like maybe. . 173

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The way Sam told me sounded very unclear. So th e girl said yes first, but she also told Sam that someone already asked her out? It seemed to me that the girl used a polite way to reject as most of us would do. If I was invited to some social occasions but either I could not go or I did not want to go, I would say that Id like t o, but . For us, this is definitely a polite rejection. The girl might have used the same wa y. She may have been saying to Sam that Id like to go with you, but . For Sam, he thought the girl couldnt go with him because he had asked her too late. He said that Last year I can 't dance with her . In his mind, he believed that he couldnt dance with the girl la st year because he had not asked her early enough. He also told me that he *. kind of know everything about her. When he said this, it reminded me of the conversations I had with h im regularly. When he wanted to get something, he would convince me about how important it woul d be. For example, if he wanted to get a music instrument, he would tell me everything about it. If he wanted me to help him convince his parents to subscribe to magazine s, he also would have a thousa nd reasons for it, even if the reasons did not sound reasonable to me. If I asked him how he knew, he would tell me I just know, I am sure . For him, the best way to get something might be to know about it, and so he thought since he knew everything about the girl, the girl might accept him. Even though he said that I just know, or I know everythi ng, the truth is, he was not confident about himself being in the mainstream culture and so he was uncertain about social strategies. He finally asked me, *I gotta ask you should I give gift to her in the morning, or afternoon? He was unsure about th e right way to inter act with a girl. His research about the girl showed his interest in gi rls; however, he did not know how to approach her. When he was politely rejected, he could not te ll it was a rejection because of his inexperience or rare contact 174

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with girls in life. In this r eal world, he was a very shy, quiet, unconfident and nerdy boy. His cultural dilemma made him an outsider of the mainstream. Sams space: his alternate world The experiences of being an outsider to the mainstream culture and school culture made Sam become more distanced, isolated, alienate d, and keep himself locked in his own world. Since he was requested by his parents to stay at home for safet y, he developed a home-base style of living. He did not have friends from school or from the community: ne ither in the American mainstream, nor within his own ethnic group. When other Chinese parents and children had their community because they met in the chess clubs, concerts, and band classes, the Chen brothers had a very limited living environment. Their pare nts were too busy to take them to follow the schedule in different classes and social events. Sam thus became a home-based boy who occupied the office corner of the house. He sp ent at least three hours a day playing computer games. Whenever I visited him, he sat in front of the computer playing games. That was his private space, his world where he did not allow his younger brother, Tim to touch and to disturb his world. In that world, he felt safe and successf ul (confident, comforta ble, he has created a community in this virtual world, where he is a confident member) Different from the real world where he had a hard time building rela tionships with others, he made friends easily in the virtual world. He said that I play those games all nightand like people from other countries are playing th ere are like. over half a million people playing it! I kind of like them [those who pl ay on-line games], they are funny (Interview, 051108line 280-305). He did not feel lik e an outsider in this world anymore, and he did not feel lonely. Whenever he got on-line, there were peop le somewhere in the world who could talk to him. They played games together, they trad ed virtual goods and money. The more time he 175

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spent, the more successful he could be in th e game, the more people he could work with and make friends with. From these friends, he got his confidence back. He is no longer a shy, lonely Asian boy: I got messages (from them) I got telephon e calls you can talk instant messenger and those stuff I play those games th ey tell me what city th ey live in, and how old they are, some of them are in (all over the world). (Interview, 051108, line 280-305) Even more, from his Instant Messenger list (see figure 6-1), he had a category named Girlfriend. Not like in the real world where he had problems in teracting with girls, he had six girlfriends in his virtual world. He could be cool in that world. He could make friends with anyone and anywhere. He did not feel that he is an outsider anymore in this other world. The longest list of the category was the Runescape, which refers to an on-line game. The list affirmed Sams virtual social world. Th ere was nothing under the categories of family. Although Ken and Xiao had bought co mputers and had installed th e Instant Messenger system, they did not use it as a communicative tool. My name is under the category of Teacher and was the only one. It showed that Sam saw me as a teacher, and matched what he said that he did not have any contact information of any school teacher. 176

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Figure 6-1. Sams virtual social community 177

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The Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game Other than the friends that he made on-line, he also created a world in which he was full of confidence: the Yugioh Trading card game. This game, according to Wikipedia (2007), is a collectible card game based on Duel Monsters which is the main plot device in the popular Japanese manga [Japanese comics] Yu-Gi-Oh! as well as the two anime series by Toei and NAS (bold and italic as origin). It is created from the virtua l world, comics and animation. Many local shops have hosted tournaments. In this rural town, Books-A -Million was the place for the tournaments. Every Saturday after Sam an d Tim finished their Art classes a few blocks south of the restaurant, their mom would pick them up, feed them in the restaurant, and send them to the bookstore, a few blocks north of the re staurant. The brothers would stay there for the whole afternoon, playing the trading card game. Most people that Sam interacted with there were older than he was. I went to observe his interactions a few times. When he talked to them, he was so confident. He had quite a co llection of the cards and he knew how to negotiate with others. The following is a sample conversation that I transcribed: Sam : Should I do it for five dollars? It cost more than five dollars. Player A : That's more than five. Anything costs more than it! Sam : Price book! Right here It's the price like uh the high the the highest is here, 4,000 dollars. Player A : I have to do it for four. Sam : I don't see any zodiac piece, so how many zodiac piece like that? Player A : Youre easily spending your money on zodiac pieces. Sam : I'll trade them, if you like really good deal! Sam : Okay see if I No! No! Dont touch it! (Informal Conversation #35, 051029, line 64-73.) When playing the game and talking with the players, Sam seemed comfortable and confident. It was a half virtual world for him. He needed to interact face-to-face with real people based on fictional plots. He was more fa miliar with an altern ate world and had the 178

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knowledge and experiences to reac t in a way both he and other people felt more comfortable with. Tims world: A baby in the family Being the youngest boy in the family, Tim was tr eated as a baby brot her and acted like a baby too. According to his parents, he was generous and warm but lazy. He was more dependent too. Although both of the brothers fought for atte ntions from parents, because of Tims younger age and his sweet nature, even Mr. Chen said th at all people said that (the mother) loved Tim more, and (Sam) was not too happy about it. Tim was not happy either. so I said, I treated Tim nicely myself (Informal conversation #105, lin e 6-11, translated). He was spoiled in the family and that enhanced some of his babyish behaviors. Sweet, lonely little boy in the real world Tim liked to interact with people; he was mo re outgoing than Sam. Different to Sam, who didnt talk to his relatives in th e restaurant too much and who did not like to go to the restaurant, Tim loved to go. He would bug his pa rents and beg them to let him stay in the restaurant. When one of his parents went home to deliver their lunch, Tim would try to convince his parents to let him go back with them. He liked to accompany his Dad on deliveries, and he liked to stay in the restaurant chatting with the relati ves and other workers. Even though he liked to talk and interact with people, he did not have too much opportunity to do so. Sam had built his virtue world on line, but Ti m had not. As a youngest child in the family, or just say a child, he wanted to get more attention. He would have liked to have more time to be with his parents. When I asked him if he talk ed to his parents everyday, he said No! No! Never! He was shaking a lot when he answer ed such a question, which I had thought was an easy one. Whether he needed or he liked to talk to his parents or not did not sound too hard for me. He had a long uh uh uh uh . until I stopped him. Then when I asked him 179

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Do you need to talk to your parents ev eryday? Again, he had this unc ertain answer: Yes No Yes uh No Yes . The conversation went on like this: Ivy: What exactly do you want to say? Tim : uh, yes, oh Ivy: Do you hope do you wish you could talk to them everyday? Tim : Um, yes, um, no Ivy: Why? Tim : No Ivy: Why Tim : uh, sometimes I dont need anything. Ivy: So you talk when you need something? Tim : Ye~~~s (Interview Tim Chen, 051108, line 122-131) Although he hoped that he could have more time to be with his parents, he understood that each member of the family needed to sacrifice fo r their bright future. The restaurant was their hope of the future. So even at age 8, he debated with himself and couldnt answer a question that I thought was simple. In a way, he was just a lit tle boy who wanted to get attentions from his parents. He was also forced to be independe nt, especially emotionally. His expressions of yes but no . showed his uncertainty and ambivalence: he desired to be with his parents, and understood he should not bother them. Tim at home As a big brother, Sam played the role of a home parent and was th e one who frequently interacted with Tim at home. However, Sam did not have patience with him. The brothers did not grow up together so they may have seen each other as competitors in front of the parents. They did not build up a strong brotherhood relati onship before they were put together. They developed untraditional interactive ways: They ye lled at each other, and fought but at the same time relied on each other to live in the same house. In front of the parents and other relatives, Tim was just a boy who was too childish to be able to take care of himself. He was cute, nave 180

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and he needed attentions. He was treated as a baby basically because of the mothers feeling guilty that he was not taken care of by the parents from the time he was 4 months old. Since his mother babied him, Tim enjoyed certain privileges He received more attention from his parents and other adults in the restaura nt, and was given less responsibility at home. On the other hand, he didnt like having less power over his brother so he fought a lot with Sa m for attention and for control. However, Tim learned to be considerate, a nd he learned to ente rtain himself without bothering his parents. He also knew that he should put the rest aurant business as his primary concern. Both brothers got frustrated sometimes b ecause they needed their parents, but they only had each other. They were biological brothers but more like adopted bothers or half-brothers since they were not bonded togeth er since birth. Sam had also been separated from his father, and for a longer time. As a result, he sometimes sa w Tim as a competitor instead of a real brother. Tim as an active, curious lit tle boy could not get Sams company at home so he tried to interact with neighbor children. He wanted to go out to ride bikes with them but the community they lived was a neat community where most of the children went to after school chess clubs, music classes or other social activ ities so when I visited them, I saw Tim mostly riding his bike by himself. Tim at school At school, he was a sweet boy in his teacher s eyes. However, under the influence of culture, he did not communicate with teachers often. He was a U.S. citizen born and raised in China, and did not have opportunities to practi ce English outside of school. For the first few months of our acquaintance, I had hard time communicating with him. He seldom answered my questions directly but would say Huh? befo re he could really answer or talk. 181

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Starting from third grade, because of standardized tests he had to face more academic challenges. At the end of his third grade year he was asked to atte nd the summer reading program or he would not be promoted to the four th grade. Later he was put in the ESE program even though all the test results showed he did not have any physical problems in learning. A group of teachers told the parents that he might have problems in concentrating. No matter what reasons, he had fewer chances to interact with peers after he was pulled out of the mainstream classroom. Even though he had an outgoing nature, he ha d a hard time making fr iends in school since he had little contact w ith his mainstream American peers. When we were talking about his friends, he first talked about anot her ESL student who is from Braz il. Then I asked him if he had other friends in school. He paused for few seconds before he answered me in a weak voice saying Not really. Before this he had told me that he had some good friends when he was in second grade. So I asked him about the friends he mentioned. Then he told me a story about how he was betrayed by his friends: Yeah.. one of my friends steal my stuff lik e when I was going I bring my candy with me for lunch and when I go like to lunch its l unch time I couldnt go to my desk and find it was lost I cant find any where and when I go to lunch I see my friends drop some but he is not he didnt see on the ground he said so he just like put it in th e pocket and dropped he said hey look I found something is this yours he said but its really mine he took it (after that) No, not anymore. (I dont see him as a friend) I I erase his name (Interview, 061108, line 382-395) He trusted his friends but hi s friends may not have seen h im as a friend. He could only make friends with ESL students and did not know how to make fr iends with others. In addition, he seemed to be confused about what friends were. He could be sweet and friendly to people, but he may not have gotten the same responses fro m others. Due to language barriers, and being behind academically, he didnt have frequent cont act with his mainstream American peers. 182

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Pokemon boy At home, just like Sam he crea ted his own territory. The living room was his area. The first thing he did after coming back from school was to turn on the TV. He would keep the TV on loud all the time. He slept on the sofa in the evening with the TV and the light on. The interesting thing is that while Sam was mo re isolated from the real human world, he had more interactions in his alternate world he had half a million friends who talked, fought and chatted with him. Tim was more isolated in his alternate world. He occupied the living room, and he lived with the TV. He did not have a partne r to play games with him. He used the TV as his company. It talked to him and kept the room crowded with voice s so he wouldnt feel lonely. Starting from fourth grade, Tim was home alone after the elementary school dismissed the students since Sam went to Middl e school and didnt get home as early as Tim did. Without help, Tim did not finish his homework assignments. So I talked to the teacher and discussed with the parents the idea of sending Tim to an after scho ol program. The parents took my suggestion and enrolled Tim in the program. After the parents told him their decision, Tim complained to me and begged me to convince his parents that he did not need to go. I told him it would be the best way for him to catch up with his school work. He couldnt convince me and he cried in frustr ation. I was shocked. He finally told me that he would miss his favorite TV program, Pokemon. He found his joy in this animated series. It was too complicated for him to make friends and in teract with peers in re al life, so he chose a safe world where all the little pokemons could be his loyal frie nds who would not cheat on him and would not betray him. He was much more outgoing than Sam, but he didnt make any mainstream American friends either. He learned to entertain himself with TV and attached to 183

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certain TV programs for his social life. He di dnt like being challenged both socially and academically and took an easy way out. Tims confusion in between two cultures It seemed like Tim was a baby both in real life and in virtual world. He was childish but at the same time a child of an immigrant restaurant family. He too knew that he needed to sacrifice part of his life as all other family members di d. In his real world, even though he was born in the U.S., he still had to face language and cultural barri ers and his lack of cult ural/social interactions among peers in school. Because of his different life context, he was isolated from the mainstream world and had little contact with mainstream peer s. He was torn between two cultures, and this could be seen in his narratives when he found out he was going to go back to China for the first time after he first came to the U.S. at age 4. I dont know how to write in Chinese anymore b ecause. when I first come here I know Chinese then when I first learn English the English guy brought, brought my Chinese world away from me. I dont want to learn two languages [] Look, like this. I came from, I learn Chinese wo rds but first that was the first language I learned then I came to America and I learned English then right I got to start the whole language of Chinese again I want my mind back I will kick the English out I dont want them Ill kick out but I will kick th e English out! I want Chin ese words to be back! [] YES. I HAVE NO TIME to wait and lets see Christmas I am going back to China (Interview Tim Chen, line 257-323) He too had many conflicts: between his desire to be with his pare nts and his desire to be an understanding child who would sacr ifice his own needs for family needs; between wanting to hold more power at home and not wanting to take any responsibility; between hoping to interact 184

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with more with peers/people and not having acce ss to the mainstream community or to friends outside school. Xiaos silent world Born and raised in Fuzhou, China, Xiao appeared to be more influenced by Chinese cultural. Even though the Chinese Cultural Revolu tion had changed a lot of the traditions, many traditions were kept in the rural areas where not many professionals lived. Xiao was the elder and the only son of the Wang family. Since his father left the family to work in the U.S. when he was about 9 years old, his mother became the only parent to live with him and his younger sister in China. His mother did not have too much pow er over him. He had been quiet, but rebellious. He quit school twice because he had skipped t oo many classes so he c ould not finish his 8th grade in China at age 15. Both of his parents described him as badly behaved in China, which implied that he did not always do what his parents asked him to do and he was not a good student. Xiao had always been always silent. I asked his mother if he had any close friends in China. Mrs. Wang said that he did not like to talk, but at least he talked to his neighbors in China. They knew each other probably from childhood that even Xiao did not talk much, he had a group to hang out with. According to Xiaos parents, he behaved bett er after he came to the U.S. Mrs. Wang said that, He would wash the dishes, clean the bathro om if I asked him to do so. Okay, he did clean the bathroom. He behaved so well now. He was not as good when he was in China. (Informal Conversation #34, 051029-1, line 379-385). He also w ould go to school everyday. He still did not like to talk, and it did not matter if it was to family members, to me, or in school. He answered my questions whenever I asked him, but a lot of times he would just say, I dont know. During the interview with both Xiao an d his mother, out of 66 minutes of interview, 185

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1000 lines of transcript, Xiao had only 87 lines, and most of them were short answers like huh? What? Yes. or No. He did not even answer the phone when his mother tried to call him from the restaurant. The following was part of the interview conversation: Mrs. Wang: Itd be good if he (Xiao) wanted to pick up the phone. He hated to pick up the phone. He did not pick up most of the time I He like on Saturday, Sunday I [called] to wake him up, he did not pick up the phone. Ivy: (ask Xiao) Why did you not to pick up the phone? [] Ivy: Why didnt you talk to your Mom? Xiao: I did not (it was not like what she said). Ivy: So why did you not to pick up the phone? Xiao: Well, I knew (what she wanted to say) anyways. (Interview Xiao Wang and Mrs. Wang, 051107, line 91-106, translated) He started from the 8th grade in the U.S. when he first ar rived at age 16. He was quiet before, and it did not change too much. In school, he still did not lik e to talk to the teacher or to his peers. He was sent to the only ESL middle school in town for his first year when he was at 8th grade. He could not understand a word in the beginning and that made him even more silent than before. He did not interact with anyone other than the relatives in the restaura nt after school. Though he knew some students who could speak the same dialects, he did not want to communicate with them. His mother believed that he could ask them for help in school but he seldom did. When he was asked why not he said, I just did not ask. The first year in the United States, he found a way to learn this new world through all kinds of goods. After dinner, his parents were st ill working in the rest aurant, he would walk home. Sometimes he took a longer walk to Wal-Mart if Mrs. Wang asked him to get some things. He could stay there, read the labels of goods one by one. No one knew if he really understood. I asked him once if he got them, he said, not all of them. His mother also told me he brought the wrong things back sometimes. He did not have a com puter at that time, and also he did not read or write. So this seemed his only ou t-of-school contact with literacy. 186

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This was Xiaos world. He kept himself isolated, did not want to ask for help. He tried to figure things out in his own ways. It was sl ow, but he took one little piece at a time. The 1.5 generation: In between two worlds In the previous sections, I have described how the boys own identities developed different ways of interacting with the world (real and virt ual), and engaged in diffe rent discourse practices at home and at school. We saw that each boy had his own: ways of being in the world . (Gee, 2005, p.27). Their identities were co nstructed through different social and cultural contexts. They also created spaces for themselves where they could be real and manage a life between two worlds. These three boys could represent the worlds of different types of ELLs in the U.S. (Table 6-1 gives a summary of the boys characters and worlds). Tim was born in the U.S. but was sent back to China until age 4. He started schooling in the United States. Sam was born in China but came to the U.S. to start schooling here. Xiao wa s a total newcomer who immigrated to the U.S. and enrolled in 8th grade at age 16. They were not first generation immigrants since they were following their parents wish; it was not their decision to immigr ant to the new land. But they were not complete second generati on since they were still influe nced by their heritage cultural roots and isolated from the main stream society in the U.S. 187

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Table 6-1. The childrens worlds Real World Virtual/Dream/Old World Sam A quiet/shy Asian boy A lonely, homebody 15-year-old 7th grader A confident card player An active On-line game player Tim TV as baby-sitter No peer-interaction after school No friends in school Warm and friendly More interactions with people Getting more attentions from family and friends Xiao Quiet, isolated Chinese ESL student Independent Curious (label reading) Hung out with friends Skipped school Did not listen to the parents This in between the two had become part of their identities. They were in between two cultures, in between two worlds. Fo r Sam, his life was divided to a real world and a virtual world. For Tim, he dreamed to have a bustling life but ac tually lived in a lonely world. Xiao had always lived in his own silent world, but he was more isolated from the real world of English. Summary In the meso-level of analysis, I looked for the narrative process in other words, the ways people used for talking, interacting and comm unicating. For these families, their ways of communicating their literacy practic es had a similarity: They were goal oriented and functional. The narrative themes I created in this chapter help ed us to see how the individuals in the families developed their own worlds as they were establishi ng their lives as immigrants in different stages. 188

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CHAPTER 7 EMOTIONS WITHIN FAMILY MEMBERS NARRATIVES The micro-zoom level of analysis focuses on t he oral dimension of the life history in which the orally demonstrated emotional react ions from the particip ants are discussed. Influenced by implicit Chinese cultural ways of communications and interaction, Chinese people do not express their feelings too overtly. Mo st of the traditions were not told but acted and passed on from generation to generation by show ing but not telling. It is then, not often that we see emotional expressions from family member s. Having been separated from each other for ten years, the Chen family had more hidden emotions that they seemed not to share with each other but revealed accidentally wh en they interacted with me. When these emotional expressi ons occurred in conversati ons, they were powerful and could represent the real or even oppressive feelings of the individua ls. In this short section I am showing some strong emotional expressions of the family me mbers that occurred among the complicated interpersonal relationships. Childrens Narratives within Emotions As discussed before, because of the separation, Sam and Tim did not share an authentic relationship of brotherhood. Furt hermore, although both brothers spent their first few years of life in China, Sam felt abandoned by his mother since she had left him at age 4 while Tim was not aware of this feeling since he was only 4 mont hs old when he was sent back to China. After the brothers started to live toge ther, the parents expected the el der brother to behave like a mature elder brother. At the same time, Mrs. Ch en reflected her relationship with her mother in the relationship betw een herself and the younger son, Tim. She talked about how she felt for Tim: I was the youngest one in the family and my mom interacted with me most so Tim was like.. Tim was like me He liked to stick with me all the time and always wanted more attention from me So I said my mom s poiled me. And I said, I did not understand My mom said that, you were so childish, see your friends were getting married and having 189

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kids and you were still so childish . So Tim and I were alike Like Tim, he was slow (in getting mature) It was like when I asked for attention from my mom (Interview Jane, 051112, line 201-212, translated) The way Mrs. Chen treated Tim influenced the interactions between the brothers and they each had their own ways to show their emotions. Tim Was Confused and Unhappy Because of Mrs. Chens attitude towards Tim, it was not surprising that Tim took his role as the baby of the family as a privilege and had more emotional expressions in his daily life. He cried easily and would repeatedly ask for what he wanted though it was not usual in the Chinese cultural imagine of a boy. It showed that most of the family members did not see him as a big boy but a baby. Even he himself enjoyed the image and acted it well. The first time I witnessed it was in an early stage of my data collection. Once when I visited the family to tutor Sam, Mrs. Chen asked me to take him to get so me school supplies from the store. Tim wanted to go with us but I thought it was a sh ort trip and did not want it to be complicated. We were not too close at that time so he did not dare to ask me directly. Just before we went out, Mrs. Chen brought Tim to me and asked me to take him as well he was standing ther e with tears in eyes. His mother couldnt reject any of his wishes when he cried. Another example was when he was crying be cause he wanted to have a bunny. He kept saying it over and over in a short conversation: Tim : I want that bunny! Ivy: Tim : I want to see that bunny again. Ivy: Tim : I want that my poor little bunny. Sam : Ivy: Tim : that poor little bunny I want my poor little bunny. Ivy: That's not a Tim : I want the poor little bunny. 190

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(Informal Conversati on #34, 051029, line 785-796) This was actually a conversa tion that happened when Sam and I were discussing some other things. Tim insisted on be ing involved and kept stating that he wanted the bunny. Later on Sam told me his parents had an agreement with Tim that if he could get good grades in school they would buy him a bunny. Tim : That's not fair, my bunnies is all gone. Ivy: Your bunnies? Tim : Yea my favorite bunnies have gone. Ivy: What does that mean? Tim : Someone buy it! Sam : He didn't do good at school. Tim : I WANT MY Ivy: Did he get As? Tim : Yea Sam : He got a few As. Ivy: I thought you are doing well this semester. Sam : you only got a few As. Sam : Yhy math is always an F? Ivy: F! Tim : I dont have F! Sam : No! you! you got a lot U. Tim : I dont have U. [] Tim : I DONT HAVE U! [angry] (Informal Conversation #50, 060209, Line 237-259) Tim did not like to discuss his school work, and he hid his report cards or his agenda from his parents often. Normally if he started to act like a baby, he could blur the focus and get what he wanted. So while he was continuously requesting a bunny, it was infuriating for him that Sam talked about his academic performance. At the en d of this conversation, Tim started to cry, he was angry that he couldnt use th e same strategy that he used a lot on his parents to convince me and Sam to help him get the bunny. Other than the daily interactions with fam ily members, Tim was eager to have more attention that he missed from his good days back in China. The br others went back to China in 191

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the summer of 2006. Compared with Sam, who only talked to me about how exciting the trip was, Tim had more emotional conn ections with the family there. His parents told me about how he missed his grandparents: Mr. Chen : He came to talk to me and started crying, crying so badly. Mrs. Chen : He talked to his grandparents on the phone crying Mr. Chen : And then he held the pictures of them Ivy: Was this his first time going back to China? Mrs. Chen : Yes. Mr. Chen : He stood on the sofa, holding the pictures he carried the pictures with him around, to the restaurant He saw the pictures when he got up from the bed and started crying Ivy: So his grandparents spoiled him a lot. Mr. Chen : His grandparents did not yell at him, cooked delicious meals for him. While (we the parents) were more strict with him, so he missed them (the grandparents) He cried a lot (recently) it was like he was abused here haha. Mrs. Chen : He (Tim) said, I dont like I dont li ke it in the US. I dont like to go to US . It was not fun there, no one played with me . He told everyone that he did not want to stay in the US. He told hi s grandparents that he missed them so much even dreamt of them all the time. And he told them when he saw other old people they thought of them. (Informal Conversation #83, 060811, line 10-43, translated) This conversation showed how Tim felt lonely in the US and he was so eager to have more attention or people to interact with in daily lives. Sam Felt Things Were Unfair The crying baby made Sam feel insecure in the family sometimes. However, he was too old to cry for attention like his younger brother did. For Sam, although he tried to be a responsible child, a mature son, and take good care of himself, he could not understand why his parents treated them differently. He was a very a cool boy most of the time, but when we talked about his relationship w ith Tim, He almost cried. He (Tim) dont want to do it then Mom comes home I tell him to do it, then I thought unfair its like lik e now, right.. now hes probably like washing the dishes. I was like washing the dishes when I wa s eight, like I cant to to make it one with and my mom makes me wash dishes so he gonna do.. he sometimes denying 192

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and he was like.. uh.. my mom said, right, he is not going to do anything until, uh I go get a job. Then I thought it is so unfair . [] I got job! Like our restaurant! None of my friends work! I am like uh unfair. I got (to do) everything in the house, clean the house, bath room, and I do for my mom never gives me allowance, not even once said it . (Informal Conversation #49, 060119, line 48-96) Sam stated unfair three times in this conversation. Although he seemed to point how Tim did not need to do as much as he did, it was more about fighting for attention from his Mother. He was doing what he was asked to do but di d not get what he expected to get. He talked about the allowance but deeper in his heart, he was asking for rewarding from the parents. He took on the unfair responsib ility that an elder son needed to take on but did not get praise from the parents. He did what he need ed to do, but the younger brother did not have to follow and still could get whatever he wanted. How about being the oldest one being unfair!? he said he is doing nothing at home The problem is that he is so noisy. The guy screams a lot. Keeps up bugging me I only yelled at him when he made me mad! I do my job and he never do his job problem is that you (he, means Tim) dont care he dont care. Hes like always get what he wants. Li ke he was at there, right, he wont do one more, and my mom will made me do one more, but they made me they keep getting into this way This is because I am bigger!! (Informal Conversation #49, 060119, line 416-506) The ownership of his space was a symbol of gett ing something that totally belonged to him; it made him feel secure. He argued with me that he wanted to have his own room. At that time Xiao occupied the second bedroom and he was unhappy. But but.. I never like (got) everything you (I) want (the computer) is not mine, thats my Dads . most of time I like the st uff.. like my stuff Its like I dont like people touching my stuff I dont got my room . Last time um I dont know why my mom wants me to move that room I want to move (to) that room. Thats 193

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my bed he stole it from me, the bed my c ousin My mom got for my birthday thats my room! My mom told me thats my r oom and they didnt say sorry.. I already told my mom. I want that room, of course she said no (Informal Conversation #49, 060119, line 173-319) Sam mentioned about things that belonged to his Dad but not only to him. He also stated how his mother promised him to have his own room but it did not happen. These may show that he was eager to hold on to something that he did not need to share with someone else, especially his younger brother. The parents did not understand his emotional reactions but took him as selfish as Mr. Chen described Sam: Sam is mature but he is too selfish Actually he saw everyt hing and he knew what happened around him I dont like him to be too selfish. I dont understand (why hes like this). He always thinks of himself. This may be a good thing if he works for others he would (protect himself) and we parents dont need to worry about him. (Informal Conversation #105, 061019, line 307-312, 495-498). The unspoken expectations and attitudes toward s the elder and the younger brother in the family, plus the separated childhood of the brothers, had caused their unspoken emotional reactions that were actually stronger than they showed. Chen Parents Narratives within Emotions The Chen family, being the pioneers of the fa mily, needed to take responsibility to get more family members out of China, which was a pressure for them both emotionally and financially. They felt they were obligated to the other family members, and they also felt they needed to be the model for the extended family. They were proud of their success in the US but at the same time felt tiring of taking care of the whole family. Feeling Tired and Complex Being the boss of the restaurant, Mr. Chen was in charge of everything and sometimes the boss position overlapped with the family position. He was not only in charge of the 194

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restaurant business but needed to take care of the family members, from the time they planned to go to the US, he had to get them from the customshouse, find a place for them to live, and get a job for them. Though Mr. Chen did not talk to me much during the first year of the study, he revealed his emotions after I had established a closer relationship with the whole family. I felt that he seldom had a conversation partner to listen to him talk about his sacrifice to the whole family mainly the family members of his wife. He needed someone to talk to, and he took me as a professional without gender role so he started to share his feelings with me. He had mentioned before that he wanted to have simple life, did not care about a social life and did not even contact his own family too much. However, because of his wife, he had done a lot for them but did not feel too worthy: Living in the US, I did not even help my own brothers [] I have been helping my wifes relatives a lot more than ten people. I paid and endorsed for them all of them. But they did not appreciate If you care less that you wouldnt mind. Just see how you wanted to take it. Sometimes it was harder for women No one (in the family) supported me Like when Janes mother passed away, (we) spent a lot of money, including flight tickets, but in the end no one appreciated I didnt want to talk about it but all these (emotions) p iled up in my heart I couldnt ju st ignore them. It piled up until one day I will not want to help. So far I am putting 100 percent of effort to help (the family) (Informal Conversation #105, 061019, line 271-285, translated) To work for the whole family, sometimes Mr. Chen felt trapped. Thinking of the old times when he worked in China and had met with some big names, he could have been more able to do business in different ways if he did not have the obligations to the family. He believed that he could do more than just have one restaurant. However, c onsidering that this restaurant was the foundation, and the hope of the whole family, he did not dare to risk the current business for his own. He expressed his feeling when he ta lked about working with the relatives in the restaurant: 195

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A lot of things I just kept them in mind but never talked about it. I am telling you today, finally to relieve my pressure do you know I did it [to hide the feeling] for the whole situation. I dont want to let other people to see the contradictory among our own family members I am working hard, its tough I thought about it which way I can take. should I live an easy and peaceful lif e like buy some property, get retired or if I want to have more adventure, do mo re business then I want to sell the restaurant. It was a tough job to manage this restaurant. (Informal Conversation #105, 061019, line 221-253, translated) During my two years interacting with the family, Mr. Chen talked about how he would like to extend his business and how he wanted to have a life that was more than a restaurant. Every year there were more relatives coming to the US from China working in the restaurant which made it harder for him. Feeling Obligated and No Return Mrs. Chen, the youngest daughter of the family, became the core member of the family because of her immigration to the US. Like most traditional Chinese females, she followed her husband without questioning. More than once she complained to me how hard she worked, even if she got sick she couldnt skip her work: I have been so busy I n eed to do two jobs at the same time and I was sick, I lost weight a lot (Informal Conversation #106, 061019-2, line 5-11, translated). Working and living abroad seems to be a symbol of higher social economic status back in their hometown as she said both my brothers had business in China we came out to the US because people in my village believed it would (earn) us better fame its like Like, oh, some of your family members were in the US, th at made them really proud (Interview Jane, 051112, line 254-261, translated). It was a complicated feeling for her. Of course she felt proud of herself, but at the same time life was never eas y. Especially when she went back to China, it was more than just going back but showing the success: 196

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I think it was harder (to live) in the US than in China It was paradise in China we were in hell here in the US It (life) is tough, so tough See, when (I) went back I needed to spend a lot of money (I was) not talking about a few thousand dollars but a few ten thousand dollars you needed to broug ht a lot of gifts for relatives So we hated to go back now it was so annoying you know So I sai d, not just relatives, even neighbors (Interview Jane, 051112, line 269-281, translated). Mrs. Chen seemed annoyed by the cultural need to show the family and neighbors back home that they had made it and they were li ving a better life in the US. The fact was that she was proud of it. The life was tough, but they had made it. The complaint in fact was her ways of showing off. Even though she was not too happy about spending too much money since it was her reward for hard work, it was like a ritual for them to bring money back to their hometown to prove their success. With a different perspective but similar immigrant ethical values, Mr. Chen cared more about how they lived in the US. He said: It was hard for (us Chinese) to compete with others if we did not have any significant characters (here in the US). Like we Chines e still want out children to be better, like this Because after all we are yes, foreigners we are minority.. right we have to.. have to learn better than others (Interview John, 051116-2, line 434-454, translated) Both Mr. and Mrs. Chen had expressed their feelings about no return: They may not have totally enjoyed their lives in the United States but they u nderstood there was no return for them. The family in China saw them as role m odels since they lived and worked in the US successfully. Between enjoying the pride of a successful image in front of family and relatives, and being trapped into family responsibilities, th eir emotions were complex and hard to find ones to share with. 197

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198 Summary From the macro zoom, which took a look from the top to see the general discourses in these immigrant families, to the meso level that moved closer to see the individual stories, the micro level zoomed into the emotions that were exposed in the conversations. Pamphilon (1999) citing Opie (1990) explains that the power of the speaking voi ce can demand that notice to be taken of that part of the acc ount (p. 404). Since it is usual fo r people with Chinese culture to directly express their feelings or to show their emotions, the exam ples presented in this chapter showed the familys true feelings, which they may not even share overtly with each other.

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CHAPTER 8 TRANSACTIONS AND REACTIONS OF AN INTERACTIONA L ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCHER Through recognizing and analyzin g the cultures in which we are positioned, and that therefore cannot help but mold our worldviews, we take steps to become more aware and even more objective. We come to know th e world more fully by knowing how we know the world (Takacs, 2003, p.29). Pamphilon (1999) states that, t he interactional-zoom asks th e researcher to address and not hold aside his/her own subj ectivity (p.406). Thus, the focus of this chapter is on the dynamics between the researcher an d the participants to reveal th e transactions and reactions of me as a researcher throughout the study. The process of doing this longitudinal interact ional ethnographic study for me is like being an actress preparing for a role that is based on a true story. In orde r to present the story authentically and meaningfully e nough, I need to intern alize the scripts and interact with the texts. I have to immerse myself into the story bu t at the same time be aw are of who I really am. The final act should be more than reading the sc ripts but add in my wa ys of interpretation. In this chapter I want to present the ch anges of process and emotional reactions I experienced from being an inte ractional ethnographer and from interacting with and observing the families. Transactions As Berger and Luckmann (1967) point out peoples relations hip to the surrounding environment is first structured by his/her biol ogical constitution and then by his/her engagement in different activities. Social constructionists see their research task as understanding and interpreting how the various part icipants in a social setting construct the changing world around them; they actively seek out a variety of perspec tives (Glense, 1999). In other words, one has to move in socio-cultural space and always has rela tionships with diverse others while forming her 199

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own identity in different rela tionships, and finding her differe nt positions among these social worlds (Dyson, 1993, 1997). Therefore, the researcher plays a role as an observer and, at the same time, as an observee herself. While reco rding all the literacy practices happening and changing in the families, I, as the researcher, al so recorded the change that happened to me, and to the interactions between the family me mbers and me. In the process of finding and understanding different meanings and functions of lite racies, I situated myself in different social settings with the participants. As I mentioned in my subjectivity statement, while I did research on the literacy of a Chinese working-class immigrant family, my in sider/outsider position switched along the way. As an insider, I share the same language, the sa me experiences of coming from other country to live in the same town, and in some instances, the same ethnic culture with the participants. At the same time, I am an outsider in the particip ants society. My positi on contrasts with the participants along many dimensions: doctoral stud ent versus workers; highly-literate versus low-literate in both English and Chinese; Chin ese from Taiwan versus Chinese from China; single female versus various family members from a large extended family. After I examined my own position changes for all these roles, I found that I my perspective changed along with my interpretations of self and othe rs, and my views and understanding of some concepts. First doing this research altered my ways of thinking and beliefs. Second, it made me aware of my resistance to cultural expectations that were foreign to me. Re-Thinking of Definition In the beginning of the study, I did not realize, even if I believed myself to be in the position of insider in Chinese cultu re, that I was actually using the townspeople lens to judge and treat the families; although I didnt realize it, I was actually an outsider to this workingclass family. However, in the process of visiting the families and interacting with them in 200

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different situations, I came up with a new unders tanding of the relationship between me and the families. My position changed and, as it did, I al so became the researched subject. This new position made me more conscious of the way I see things. Thus the attitu des, the tone and the language that I used also change d during the process of analyzing data. The change influenced my interpretations of certain concepts and words. Help When I started to visit the family and tutor th e children, I claimed that I was helping the family by providing free tutoring, and later on even free rides, free service and free consultancy. My ways of thinking reflected in my reflective journal. During an early stage of my formal data collection, I wrote in my journal: The kids beg me to go with them (to pick up an information sheet from school.) [] When I arrived at the house [] the kids were stil l sleeping or hid in th e bathroom. I felt like they were using my GOLD time since I have a lot of work to do and I am here to help them. (Reflective Journal, 050811) This helping concept also applied to the parents. I called Jane to ask if she needed help with her ticket reservation or Id skip visiting today since I felt very sick. She said yes, so I went to her house. The next day is the (university) homecoming day plus it was pouring that the tr affic was really bad on my way to her house. It was about 5:40pm when I arri ved and it took an hour and half to be there. [] Before I arrived, she called and told me that she alrea dy left the house to the restaurant. If she was not there, whats the point for me to be there helping her book the tickets? (Reflective Journal, 051006) At that time I still used the helper privileg e to expect them to follow my schedule. I did not realize that they had to follow the schedule of the restaurant business. It was about 5:40 when I arrived, too close to the rest aurant peak hours that Jane (M rs. Chen) needed to go to the restaurant even she wanted to stay. Of course I believed I had reasons to be annoyed at her since she could have told me. However, if I could take their perspective I woul d understand she really 201

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wanted to wait for me but their life was conditioned to the restaurant business so she did not have a choice. A year later, the family asked me to help them get their new laptop installed with the Chinese system. I did not know how so I aske d an acquaintance who was in the Computer Science field to give me a hand before I took the laptop to him. The first time he tried and it did not work, he told me that the software and br and of laptop were not compatible. He suggested that the family return the laptop and exchange it for another one. I told the family what my acquaintance had told me and they did what he said. I took the new lapt op to the acquaintance and confirmed with him that he could set it up fast He told me it was simple and promised me he could do it in a few days. After a week, I went to pick up the laptop he had not even opened the box. I felt so sorry for the family. In my journal I wrote: I knew how hard it was for them to exchange a laptop in an American store. I felt so sorry that I did not help and they trusted me so much. I was upset with the acquaintance, but I blamed myself for passing my responsibility to someone else who was even not a friend but just an acquaintance of mi ne. How could he understand how im portant this family is to me? I felt I betrayed their trust and when they were helping me to go through my research and my life living alone in this town, what did I do to them? (Reflective Journal, 060813) I became sensitive to the word help and starte d to think of the situated meaning of the word. I did not want to use the word anymore since I sensed the usage of help implied a power structure. I no-longer saw myself as a helper but rather ap preciated the reality what the families showed me and the help that I got from the families in real life. Low-literate My growth in the process of interacting with the data and the families also affected the analysis and my own understanding of literacies When I started this research I had certain criteria in mind. Besides working-class new immigrant Chinese families, I was looking for 202

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participants who were low-literat e. At that time, I was using the term low-literate to select participants who were different from the stereotypical image of model minority and so the literate refers to the traditiona l definition of literacy: the abil ity to read and write and ability in mainstream school literacy. Therefore, in the beginning stag es of my observation, I tried to collect evidence of literate behaviors (in the traditional sense) in this fa mily and found there were not many examples. In my first few visits to the house, I found that th e family were not in th e habit of reading and writing. I could not find books in the house. There were some used notebooks and a few novels on Sams shelves, but according to him, those were the books his teacher had given him. Even when he asked me to take him to the library, he checked out videos but no books at all. Other than the daily records of the restaurant piled up on the desk in Mr. Chens office, I could not see any evidence of reading or writing in their house. Even though I had written my phone number on a piece of paper and posted it on the refrigerator, they did not call me until I called their cel l phone so my number was stored in their phone and they could call me back. At that time I did not realize that the ability to call back from the caller ID was, in fact, part of the literacy evidence I was looki ng for. Other than the ability to call back, I was soon astonished by the survival literacies the families used to function in everyday life. I developed a new conceptualization of family literacy by repositioning myself relative to the different social settings the families inhabited. This might be the point where I finally got the evidences of my beliefs that literacy practice should include ways of living, believing, interactions, values and all, I was impressed when I witnessed the evidence: [] I realized that without any recording syst em, they have to depend on their memory to remember and figure out everything. They never use an agenda to write things down or to remind them of appointments. They never write down a phone number. [] that is so new and amazing to me. 203

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(Reflective Journal, 060130) This reflected my real belief that multiple literacies include any way people use words and numbers to function and survive. Starting from that moment, my respect for the families increased and I no longer felt comforta ble with the term: low-literate. Cultural Resistance Resistance, according to Giroux (2001) can be moral reflections of conflicts between an individuals life experience and different structures of domination; it may lead to a change in the power structures (Adorno, 1984; Marcuse, 1991). Resistance may include acts against a power structure and self-reflection (Giroux, 2001). I believed I was a cultura l insider in this family but found out that I was only a cultural insider ethnically. With respect to the familys working class culture, I was an outsider. This led me to look at my cultural expectations and what exactly my roles were as a cultural insider and outsider. Expectations of the parents Influenced by my own family culture, I had ce rtain expectations of the parents about how they taught their children and about how they nurtu red them. I resisted any ways that countered my beliefs about caring a nd family interactions. Ways of caring Before entering the families, I had never understood what perspectives working-families had on education. Although I critiqued stereotypes of Chinese immigrants as a model minority, I found that I still held some of stereotypical cultural expectati ons. I defined taking care of children as taking care of thei r needs for education. Then when I discussed what I felt for the families with one of my friends who was from a working-class family, she challenged me by asking, Why did you think the parents do not care about their children? I started to re-examine my beliefs and try to reduce my townspeoples bias: 204

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I think N was right. The parents WANT to hel p. I did not understand what they felt (being not able to help their children academically). However, when I asked them to take the kids to the restaurant around 10am (even they did not need to arrive in the restaurant that early in summer), they were willing to do so. Now I totally believed that the schools have done way too few to the families. The kids never joined to any kind of program/activity because their parents never really got the chance to understand what they (the activities) are and their working schedule seldom fits to the activities. (Hand-written notes, 060713) How could I say that the parents do not care a bout their children just because they do not know much about school system? I was still judging their wa ys by using townspeoples values: that parents should be actively involved with their child rens education and provide any kind of help to ensure it. I unconsciously compared the children to my niece, who is 7-years-old and was born in the U.S.; I wondered why children of a similar age could behave so differently. Influenced by my brother, who was a doctoral student when my niece was born, and my sisterin-law who works in a university, my niece ha d built some concepts of school literacy and education when she started schooling. She was taught to behave in certain ways at school and was already familiar with reading, writing, and preparing to go to school. (She even knew what get a Ph.D. degree meant!) The children from the families in my study did not have any concepts about school, especially school in the U.S. Their parents had their own ways of taking care of the children, which may have been different to what I had thought before, and it was something that I needed to be more sensitive to and to learn. Ways of interactions In my own experience, manners were stressed all the time as part of my childhood. Family interaction was important and something that I have always cherished. In the beginning of the study, I resisted the ways the parents had of intera cting with their children in these families. As I recorded: 205

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The ways the kids interact with their parents are rude to me, they just request whatever they want without respect or appreciation. (Hand-written field notes, 050508) For the first few months, when I visited the families I was wondering about the ways they interacted with each other. In Chen family, I wo ndered why they did not talk to each other when all the family members were finally together at home. I wondered why the mother seemed to yell at the brothers instead of communicating with them. Resistance came from my own family culture: we always shared at the dining table and we had to watch our manners. Based on my own cultural experiences, I believed these parents spoiled their children an d that the children did not talk to their parents in appropriate ways: Their ways of interactions we re weird to me. The mother yelled at the children and the children yelled back. [] When I was there, they only talked to me but not talked to each other. (Reflective Journal, 051108) It was different from the way I interacted with my parents so I did not realize until later that the culture of these families did not include the same beliefs about interactions that I had. There was no culture of talk in these families; theirs was an implicit way of interacting. I resisted the working-class Chinese culture from my townspeoples viewpoint. Expectations towards children Compared to my own experiences growing up in a traditional Taiwanese family, I unconsciously expected the children to have cer tain manners that were almost like common sense to me. I resisted the ways that the childr en behaved because of my cultural understanding. Expectation of respect and appreciation : I was raised to care more about how people trea t people. I believed it was very important for a person to learn how to respect others. Thus I resisted their ways of treating each other: 206

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whenever I worked with Xiao, Sam and Tim tended to interrupt all th e time. I had to shout to them to wait. I think when I am tired a nd cranky, I couldnt stand their behavior. They did not learn to respect others, they dont know some common sense because nobody taught them before. (Reflective Journal, 050726) Being ready when an expected guest arrives is for me, a sign of respect. When I was their tutor, I felt they should at least have gotten ready before I arrived. Ev en if it was their lunch time, they could have told me before I came, or at least excused themselves to me and informed me how much time they would need before we could start our work. This also countered my cultural beliefs about respec ting an elder. It was not respectful to let an aunt or even a teacher wait. Its 3:30 pm and they are still eating lunch. I kind of feel frustrated: no matter what time I arrive, they are eating! And they seem not care about my being there, that I always have to wait (and push) for them eating. (Reflective Journal, 050726) I started to doubt myself because I started to wonder if it was their way to resist my tutoring them. Did they respect me as a person? I was not even asking them to respect me as a teacher like I treated my teacher when I was little. But did they know that I was busy? (Reflective Journal, 050810) Of course later on I found out th ey were not resisting me. They in fact liked me to visit them as often as possible. The brothers even trie d different kinds of excuses to get me visit them or take them out shopping or to the library. In this sense, we di d not have cultural experiences in common and I resisted their reactions. Age/role appropriate expectation: I was bothered in the first few months by their manners. For example, it might have been a small thing but I was taught to greet people when they arrived. I believed this was so common 207

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that I forgot I had been taught to do so. I believed manners were such an important cultural value that all Chinese children had learned them. Especially fo r the brothers age 10 and 15, I expected certain manners so I resisted th eir behavior when these did not happen: I had to tell them come to say hi to me wh en I arrived and to force them to say goodbye to me when I was about to leave. (Reflective Journal, 050810) I was also bothered by their attitude towards s tudy. They had been in school for at least 4 years so I thought they knew they needed to take time to do their homework assignments. This should have been a task they took seriously as I had been taught by my own cultural experience. I learned to treat school work seriously, showing from the way we do schooling in Taiwan. This also reflected in my journal: The kids do not have a habit to sit still when th ey are writing. To me th at is interesting. My own studying/growing experiences, I was asked to sit steady and well when writing. I was taught to treat studying/writi ng as a serious thing that need to concentrate on doing it. (Hand-written notes, 050510) They had not been trained to have a ser ious attitude when doing school work or in writing like I was. I was expecting them to follow a cultural norm that they were not familiar with at all. Another unconscious expectation that I held for the brothers was the cultural role I expected them to play as a me mber of a family. I did not realize that I was using my cultural experiences and expected certain behaviors wi thout deeply understanding their historical background. I think Sam is quite selfish in a way. Probably it (the expectation for Sam to be not too selfish to his brother/family) comes from my own background. My br other always knew he had obligations as an elder brother and even if he did not like it, he kn ew his responsibility for me and for the family. He would take care of me when my pare nts were not around. (Reflective Journal, 051018) 208

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However, my reflective journal showed my self -awareness of the situation. I first recorded my disappointment in the children, then started to think of the deeper meanings while I was reflecting on my thinking the same day: I was frustrated that they seemed not to treat each other as brothers. [] I think they did not have much chance to practice their interaction ability being brothers. (Reflective Journal, 051018) Reactions The researchers reactions should be subjec t to self-reflection th at allows for reexamination of the research process. Accordi ng to Pamphilon (1999), emotional reactions may be of three types: empathy, anger and confusion. In this section, I present these three types of reactions as they happene d during the process. Reacting with Empathy Being a female in a Chinese family, I especially felt empathy for Mrs. Chen in some situations. Since she treated me like her sister, and shared her feelings with me, I could often feel empathy with her. In a casual conversation in May, 2006, I first heard Mrs. Chen talking about her regret and feeling of helplessness about bein g in the United States and losing her mother: I did not know that Janes mother passed aw ay last December. She mentioned once last year that she wanted to go home because her mother was severely sick. Then she complained about the price of tickets and no substitute workers during winter break that she could not go back home. Today when I told her that I am going home this summer she said it is good to be able to go home. Don t be like me, I cant see my mom anymore. I was shocked that she had never been home since first time she arrived in the United States in 1996. It has been 10 years! I cant imagine that kind of life. I cant imagine not be able to see my parents for that long. I felt sorry fo r her and finally realized how much they had sacrificed for their American dreams and so th ey worked that hard to achieve a dream for the whole family. (Reflective Journal, 060510) During my stay in the United States, I had expe rienced death twice, lo sing a member of my extended family and a family friend. The feeling was so strong that I re member how hard it was 209

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for me to go through the pain. I understood how it could be scary to answer a phone call at midnight. Also I felt so guilty that I could not do anything for the family. I empathized with her and at the same time admired her toughness for being able to live far away from home without a chance to go back to visit for a long time. Another time I empathized with Mrs. Chen wa s when she called me to ask if I could check a speeding ticket for her. She explained the situ ation and said that she was stopped because she had been too close to the car in front of her. I got sp eeding tickets almost every other month in Taiwan, but I tried to be as cau tious as possible while driving in the U.S. I would not want to deal with the police here and it mi ght affect my status staying in the United States. Furthermore, since I am not too familiar with the system, it w ould take me time and energy to learn how to go through the process of taking a driving lesson, or even going to court. So when Mrs. Chen told me her story of being stopped by the police and getting a ticket, I had some reflections recorded as follows: It was hard for me to imagine if it was me who couldnt understand/ speak English well and was stopped by a police on the road. Even I speak English, I was fearful when I was stopped by a police one time and I did not know this was included in moving violation. I felt sorry for her. It reminded me of the feeli ng I have being a minority or an international student in American. The firs t few years living in the U.S. without cultural understanding, sometimes I chose to step back or just accepte d whatever people told me or treated me. It must be harder for the families to struggl e and survive in the society with unfamiliar language and culture. (Reflective Journal, 060928) She then asked me how to take a lesson to avoid an incident on her traffic record. I explained to her what was recommended on the back of the ticket, and trie d to get some detailed information on-line. I knew this was not pleasant or easy base d on my experience in a car accident a few years before. I felt for her bei ng a non-English speaker in the American society. 210

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React with Anger There were a few times when I felt angry towards the children. These were mostly conflicts with my cultural values. The first strong feeling appeared when the new semester began and the children showed th eir careless about school: When we arrived in K mart, I asked Sam wh ere their lists are, Sam said dont know, I dont have one. I was unhappy. I said, Didnt I ask you for several times that you need to get one (supply list) from school? You could go on-line, ask your friend, or whatever. He said, I dont know how to get it. [] I was mo re than shock that Sam is going to be a 6th grader and he did not know where to get a supp ly list? [...] I was pi ssed of. I felt the whole getting supply thing is a lie [] I was angr y [] I felt so being used [] I asked the children to go to their school to pick up the li st next day before I can take them to get supply again. They, again, OK me. I felt so lo w and frustrated with this kind of attitude. I didnt trust them anymore. (Reflective Journal, 050807) The next day I went to the schools with the brothers and was shocked to find out that school would start in 3 days. The brothers did not know. I got angry because this was not a culture I was familiar with. I thought a person needed to be responsible for him/herself. When I was little, my parents supervised me to go thr ough the school requirements. They would check with me to make sure I understood the requirements for each new school semester. The first thing I checked before a break wa s the schools start date. I was ma d at the brothers because they did not care about school. I was mad because th ey did not act according to my understandings of caring. As I grew up, being a student was the most impo rtant role I played so I was taught to be responsible in the role. Checking the important dates, preparing school supplie s, getting ready for the new school year were routines, or even rituals for me. I was trained from the first day of school. It was part of my value system. But the parents of these children might not have taught them these routines and the childrens unders tanding of the new school might have been only switching their daily routine to get up earlier. 211

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I also got angry when I felt powerless in de aling with bureaucracy, as when I took Xiao and his mother to school to register him. We had been trying the whole week to figure out how to get a new immigrant child into public school. I fi rst took him to the middle school that was close to the Chens house. They gave me stacks of documents to fill out. I was told that I needed to take Xiao to the zoning departme nt first. And his guardian had to be there. It was Friday afternoon and school would begin the following Monday. In order to get Xiao into school in time, I was hoping to get things settled before the fi rst day. It would be easier for a newcomer ESL student to start a semester with others and not in the middle. But the whole process was frustrating. After almost an hour of waiting, we finally got to talk to the la dy. I called her to clarify all the needed documents before I went. Even s o, she checked all the documentation in front of me and looked uncertain. She then went to another room to ask her supervisor for several times. Mrs. Wang looked worried it was Friday afternoon and the restaurant would be really busy soon. I felt guilty for not being able to solve the problem for them. [] After about 15 minutes of waiting, the lady finally got answers from her supervisor and came to us. She told us that we needed another document. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon on Friday. I didnt think we could make it to get the document from home and come back again. I started to feel furious. She could have told me when I called to confirm with all the needed documentation. It probably was their routine, but for some people, not being to work for a day may cause them to lose their jobs. [] Not eating and drinking for the whole day I felt so tired and powerless. (Reflective Journal, 050812) I was angry at myself, at the same time angry at the bureaucracy. This was my first time being so close to a situation that a newcomer ESL family had to face. I had learned from textbooks that teachers n eeded to have TESOL training if th ey have ESL students in class. I learned from textbooks that all ch ildren have the righ t to go to school. I thought going to school should be easy. The reality was not as beautifu l as I thought. For this new understanding I was angry at myself for being so nave. 212

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Reactions of Confusions In the beginning of the study, I was quite confus ed about what role I needed to take as a researcher, especially a particip ant observer. I was also confused about what was proper to do as a researcher and what was not: [] the kids normally do not meet/interact with parents. It seems that I am the one who interact mostly with the kids. And I am confused if this is proper. (Hand-written notes, 050510) My think out loud reflective journal show ed my confusion of being a participant observer researcher and how I decide to deal with this confusion: Even though I remind myself very often that I am a participant obser ver and a researcher, and my goal is to observe the families and to explore literacy practices in families and community, it is very hard for me to divide myself into two parts as a researcher and a tutor. Even though I know that I am a researcher using a role of a tutor as a tool to observe the families, the term researcher is just a vague and not-too-real term for the children and the families. It was also the first time that I found it difficult to explain what a Ph. D. student means. It neither sounds like a job nor a title for them. A woman at my age, not working, but still a student is totally out of their understanding. They see me simply as a teacher who can speak their language and help them, rather than a tutor, or in my own terms, a researcher. I am there, hoping to obs erve the interactions between family members and the way they practice literacy. However, I AM the one that is always interacting with each of them more than I expected. As a part icipant observer, I cannot just sit on the side of the house and see what will happen to th e families. [] I am not only observing them now, I am observing us. (Hand-written notes, 050611) I finally clarified my role and got to understa nd that I needed to be aware of who I am. When I observed and interacted with the families, I had to remember that I am part of the interactions and should be in cluded in the observation. Final Notes of Reflection: Stories and Lives Go On After my active data collection phase, I st opped visiting the families as frequently as before. I visited them when I did my grocery sho pping close to the restaurant, or when the family called me and asked me to visit. After celebra ting the Chinese New Year with the family in 213

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February, 2007, I did not go to visit the family too often. I was busy teaching and analyzing my data. One night in May, all of a s udden, I wanted to talk to Mrs. Chen (I call her Jane now). It felt like I wanted to talk to a family member. Af ter the talk, I wrote down my reflective journal: While organizing and analyzing my data, all of the sudden, I want to talk to Jane. The feeling was so strong that I deci ded to put all my work aside to call her, even just to say hi and how have you been. I have worked with the families for two years now. The last semester I was really busy and of course after I made the closure of the data collection, I no longer ha d the obligation to go visit them anymore. But that is not Chines e. We have established a close relationship and they finally took me as a family friend, allowed me to enter their world, or even their physical territory any time. It was hard for me to cut it off. They still invited me to kids birthday, to some family occasions, and ne ver stopped asking me to get food from the restaurant. I have nothing in common with Jane except fo r speaking Chinese and living in this rural university town. I wouldnt ha ve the chance to make such a friend, and sometimes of course I dont have specific topi c to chat with her. We coul d only talk about how the kids been doing, how hard it was to run a restaurant but nothing like the way I talked to my academic friends. But its all good. It reminded me of some of my relatives. One of my uncles from my mothers side was a butcher. He never remembered what class I was in and never could tell the differences between a college degree and Ph.D. degree but always remembered what my favorite dish was and woul d cook for me whenever I visited. [. ] I miss my family. For we Chinese, family means more than just father, mother or siblings. The atmosphere, the gossip from uncles and au nts, even sometimes the fighting between cousins, the noises in Chinese New Year, a nd much more are all included to be a family good and bad. (Reflective Journal, 070509) Now almost all the workers in the restaurant recognized me, even the American workers who were in charge of taking phone orders. Norma lly I went into the rest aurant, then directly entered the kitchen to talk to the family members. I walked into the restau rant feeling I was part of it. Sam is getting taller. Tim has a new tutor a nd is going to Middle sc hool next school year. Xiao gained a lot of weight in these two years. Mrs. Chen asked me if I would still be here for the summer to adjust her plan to go back to China. I had changed a lot during these two years of 214

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215 interacting with the family. B ecause of them, I learned the deeper meaning of understanding and had a deeper appreciation of the differences and diversity. I became more sensitive and grateful. The stories and lives of the restaurant families and of mine go on. Cest la vie.

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CHAPTER 9 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS In this research I have been guided by a humanistic commitment to study the world from the perspectives of ethnic, hist orically situated, and social i ndividuals (Lincoln & Denzin, 2000). From Chapter 5 to 8, I presented findings a bout socio-cultural, indi vidual, emotional and interactional dimensions of peoples stories. These findings resulted from looking at my data through different zooms. In th is chapter I draw my conclu sions about the complex multiliteracies of immigrant culture within new Chines e immigrant family units. Implications include suggestions for teachers and for schools. I suggest futu re directions for research at the end of this chapter. Conclusions The conclusions of this study focus on the complexity of family culture and the multiple literacies practiced in working-class new Chinese immigrant families. The mixed influences of the culture that the family carried with them to the new land plus the experiences of being new immigrants developed a new culture in these fam ilies. The various literacy practices that the family used to function in their new life showed that multi-literacies can include more than just reading and writing. This new culture is a complex mix of the old world and the new. I will refer back to my research questions when concluding this study: Multi-Literacies RQ1: What are the various literacy practices of the working-class new Chinese immigrant families? A broad definition of literacy can include social practices that are associated with everyday life in different contexts. In this definition, literacy practices can be seen not only as aspects of culture, they can also be seen as part of the power structure (Street, 2001). Social implications of literacy include the connection of literacy and socioeconomic and political power. These 216

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implications are concerned with the challenges a nd conflicts that emerge when people operate in their society from a postion of one linguistic ide ntity kit (Cushman et al., 2001), or, in Gees (1999) words, from one set of situated meanings In this frame, it is not only the uses of literacy that must concern us, but also how th e withholding or providing of access to literacy reflect power relations (Collins & Blot, 2003). In this broad conceptualization of multiple literacies (Moll, 1986; Delgado-Gaitan, 2005), literacies not typically consider in more traditional definitions can be used by people in different settings to function in life, to build social networks, and to exchange resources. These survival skills should be valued since they are living literacies for hard-working immigrants. In this study, I am interested in learni ng how one extended family uses literacy in conducting their everyday life, and how they ma ke meaning. From observing and experiencing everyday life with the families w ho participated in my study, I have witnessed the practice and functioning of multiple literacies in different so cial settings. The stories of the families showed us that there are literacies ot her than reading and writing, or s chool literacy. Even though the family members are working-class immigrants and may not be able to read and write in either English or Chinese, they have broad and diverse knowledge that helps them survive in a literate English world. The parents may not understand school literacy, but they carry their own form of literacy and pass it on to their children. They have implicit expect ations for their children and they use an act-but-not-say way to show their concerns and love to the family. In the restaurant, even though they did not use read ing and writing as I did in my life, they used a calendar and symbols to record peoples duties. Even though thos e resources they had were either distant from them or limited, they used them well. We saw an illustration of this in their strategies for calling 217

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people back from in-coming numbers on cell phones. They didnt read and write much but they had good memories to keep track of things. For the children, they learned from their pa rents to develop a f ace-to-face communicative style. Also because of their life style, their c onversations were mostly get-to-the point with clear requests or needs. In orde r to live in a house without parents nurturing and supervising, the children created their own ways of entertaining themselves and inte racting with the world. Media, the computer, video games, and the IM system became the literacy that they could use to connect with the outside world, as we sa w in Sams request for tutoring to help with his school work, and his frequent contact with me to get assistance. These were his survival literacy practices. The Complexity of the Family Culture RQ2: What do the different lite racy practices in immigrant culture mean for the members of the family unit? The new family culture became complex becau se of the mix between their heritage Chinese culture and their new immigrant culture. This new complexity was seen in their life styles, their relationships, thei r values, their cultural roles, and their social positions. Each of the family members was aware that th ey had to play differe nt roles in different situations and had to switch between them if necessary. They knew their positions while working to achieve their American dream. Th e mothers (Mrs. Wang and Mrs. Chen) may not have liked their changing roles from housewives to working women in the United States where they had to work all day like men, and at the same time be responsible for the family, but they understood that they had to do it. Their changi ng roles also caused complexity in their interpersonal relationships. Traditional Chinese cu ltural values defined the ways they interacted with each other in different circum stances: each of them had to play a role as a sister but at the 218

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same time as employees or employers. Their pur e sibling relationship ha d changed and they had to deal with that changed relationship because of their new life in the United States. Complexity also affected the interactions between parents and ch ildren. The children may have desired more nurture from the parents but we re forced to grow up fa ster and to be more independent due to their immigrant life cont ext. The business was the economic foundation of the whole family and it became the primary concer n of all family members. The success of the business had to support the families in the US and to honor the families back in China. The family, although it was considered working-class, was not low-income. They had low levels of literacy in the traditional sense of the word, but they were highly functional in the college town where they lived. These are all complexities that the families dealt with in their daily lives. Family values were important to the parents so they insisted on having their family space and time. However, because of the business, they needed to make the restaurant business their priority and sacrifice some of their family valu es. For example, Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Wang (the sisters of Zhao family) could not go back to their mother when she got sick. They had to struggle with the conflict between b ecome successful to honor the family and filial duty. Cultural identity was also complex in this family. Both parents and children struggled between American and Chinese identities. They wanted to settle in the American world but at the same time were afraid to lose their connections to China. They wanted to be accepted in American society but they also believed they w ould always be different in appearance and in beliefs. The adults seemed to hold the American Dr eam that they were making a better future for their children. At the same time they missed the old days back in China. 219

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The parents expected the children to have a bett er education and to be able to get better jobs to work in an office instead of being laborers. At the same time they were proud of their business and their success in running a restaurant. All of these complexities were the new character istic of the family culture. They may also represent immigrant family culture the comple xity the new immigrant faces when trying to maintain their own cultural values and identities and at the same time adapt to the American value system. Implications A lot of time people read qualitative resear ch and ask a question: OK, now I know the story, so what? As Shirley Brice H eath reminded the readers of her book Ways with Words : this is an unfinished story, in which the ch aracters are real people whose lives go on (1983, p.13). I believe this is an unfinished story t oo. The story of the restaurant family may look unique in a way, but at the same time they repr esent the increasing numbers of immigrants in society and ELL students in school While we all believe that it is almost common sense for educators to know that we need to understand th e individual differences of each of our students in our classrooms, we may have more to learn about each of the students and the cultures that they bring into the classrooms from their families. This study provides new understanding of worki ng-class immigrant families. The findings showed that the literacy culture students bring from familie s with different cultural/linguistic backgrounds may be different from school litera cy. From this study, I am hoping that teachers can gain more cultural understanding of new immi grant children and their family situations and behaviors by valuing knowledge and skills beyond those learned from books and schools and to see the strength these immigrant families have to make their life in American society with limited knowledge of mainstream/s chool literacy background. 220

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Implications can be drawn by pre-service and practicing teachers to further understand the family literacy practices of dive rse groups. They can get new ideas for developing curricula that include children from different cultures and fam ilies to enact a truly multicultural education for teaching the increasing numbers of immigrants/ ELL students. Keeping in mind the idea: funds of knowledge, schools may consider including multi-literacies in curriculum design and teachers can adjust instruction and assessment of the learning patterns and behaviors of these children. A further implication is to provide suggestions for school teachers on how to build a bridge between families and school by assisting families to understand and adjust to school literacies and, at the same time, appreciate their he ritage cultures and family literacies. Some Ideas for Teachers In this section, I am sharing some ideas that I reflected on as I interacted with the families. I first summarize ideas that provide teachers some thing to think about with respect to what we may learn from the children and the families. Furt hermore, I would like to share some ideas to stimulate us as educators to think ho w we can teach these children better. What do we learn from the children and the families? The strength of the families : From interactions with the families, it was amazing to see how hard the family members work to face all the challenges in their life and to adapt to the new world. Even though they were not familiar with sc hool literacy and the mainstream culture, and their resources were limited, they grabbed any chance to learn and to connect with the world. Literacy in functions: The family, without fluent Eng lish or an ample understanding of American mainstream culture, makes their literaci es function in different ways and successfully use their literacy culture to achieve their goal in achieving the American Dream. The ability to 221

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run a restaurant, the ability to use the computer, to take a driving test, to take a flight or a bus to travel without understanding English in an Engl ish world should be valued and recognized. No one should be labeled as model minority: Even though there are a lot of complexities among the family members, they keep faith in achieving the goal and they also keep the value of the family working together for a better future. They keep their immigrant ethics and they grab any opportuni ty they can get to function and survive. They do not just rely on others but would use well any re sources they could get. They s acrifice individual desires to fulfill united hope. From this viewpoint, who cant be models? And why do we need the lable of model minority? All immigrant families and indivi duals who work hard and live hard for their belief and faith can be models of others. The St ereotypes of model minority showed a way that only certain characteristics of school literacy were recognize d while all forms of literacy should be values and appreciate. The ability of cultural adaptation: All different forms of literacy practices showed us that the families have a strong ab ility of cultural adaptation. They survive in a town where they hardly could communicate or inter act well, but they highly achiev ed in making a business. They tried to function in a literacy world and at the same time reta in their own cultural values and beliefs. They had developed an ability to adapt an immigrant culture that en able them to be able to survive, to get connected, and to be involved in different social worlds. How can what we have learned from th em help us teach the children better? Link daily curriculum to life experiences of students from diverse cultural backgrounds : Instructional activities that involve task s related to cultural linkages may create opportunities for the students to solve problems (Zubia & Doll, 2002). Include media literacy in the curriculum : Gee (2003, 2007) discusses video games as one of the popular cultures that raise the issue of equity and access. Ot her than the skills of 222

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learning to think and reflect, the players of these games share the same virtual world so they can practice specific sets of goals choices, actions and knowledge. Gee sees gaming literacy or media literacy as kinds of new literacies. To include media literacy into school curricula may help connect the worlds of children who in reality are culturally and linguistically different. Connect students social worlds to school literacy : Literacy learning is related to the social and ideological worlds and the relationships and experiences of children and their worlds (Dyson, 2003). If we can recognize and appreciate their out-of-school l iteracy and try to encourage our students to bring their social worlds into school and connect them, it will help their literacy learning. Lukes (1993) implications for classroom teachers on fast-changing literacies : Luke believed that literacy is used to shape students in classroom to be able to think and behave in certain ways. Thus he provides three implications to show how it can help teachers in school to understand the multi-literacies. First is that teachers need to learn new forms of literacy (such as media, oral, visual literacy) so children can ge t access in early age. Second, teachers should not hold an assumption about liter acy and learning only from their own experiences. Third implication is that teachers should develop an awareness that literacy is also socially and culturally constructed in the classrooms. Future Directions My aim in this study was to understand various literacy practices in these families and to explore how cultural and immigrant experience shap e their literacy practic es and identities. I chose working-class new immigrant Chinese families to understand if there were differences to the normal stereotypes held about the Chinese as a minority group. I focused on the family and the interactions among the family members and restaurant community. 223

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I started by collecting data from home and from school but d ecided to switch my focus to the families so I could use the pure family perspectives to deeply understand the family culture and the perceptions that the families had on school literacy. It would be interesting to do a larger scale study that extends from the family, to the community and looks at the connections to the school or aspects of the school environment. Another possibility for future work will be to add in different ethic groups. For example, there are also stereotypes about Hispanic fam ilies. Students from Hispanic families are often labeled as low-achievers in school and the parents are blamed for educational failures (Zentella, 2005). It could be an interesting project to get two researchers to collaborate using the same framework and design for the study and collect da ta from two populations at the same time. I hope this study will motivate further study in these areas. Two Final Thoughts Teaching Students from Diverse Socio-Cultural Backgrounds The population of immigrants in the United States was less than 10 million in the 1970s, but increased by 40% between1970 and 1990. That number has doubled in the last decade and was over 31 million in 2000. Another 14 million immi grants are projected to arrive between 2000 and 2010 (Fu, 2007). According to the American Census Bureau, in the year 2006, about 38 million people in the U.S. were either foreign born or naturalized citizens, which equals about 9 % of the total population. In the American population, 20% speak a la nguage other than English at home; this includes 8.7% who speak English less than very well. The immigrant population is bringing more and more ELL student s into public school. According to Ariza (2005), between 1997-1998 and 2002-2003, the repor ted overall number of ELL has increased by 46.5 percent. While some pre-service teacher s may still believe that ELLs are for ESL education or special education on ly, the statistics show that every teacher in this country may 224

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have ELL students in their classroom. We need to pr epare these teachers to be able to teach these students. Among the ELL students, immigrant children w ho are from working class families need more attention. According to Hicks (2002), much of the educational literature on the learning needs of working-class learners focused less on class than on ethnicity, a hidden message being that poor and working-class children are largely members of ethnic-minority families and neighborhoods (p.4). Hicks (2002) also stated that as workingclass children entering a school system modeled after middle-class values and pract ices. [they] wanted desperately to find a we of me in school (p.3) [italic as origins]. Immigr ant children who are also working-class indeed need more understanding and care from teachers and schools. As Bank states, . the education of students from diverse raci al, ethnic, cultural, language, and religious groups is a problem that challenges educators on every continent (in Ball, 2006, p.xiii). Of course I unde rstand that teachers are busy pr eparing classes and teaching, especially in middle school where one teacher may have about 100 students. However, if we educators do not try to understand our students family and cultural backgrounds, we might be blinded by what we have believe d. This could prevent us from s eeing what is really needed. As the immigrant population and ELL students in crease in this country, we cannot exclude the cultures and values from these diverse groups; we need to try to develop deeper understandings of their cu ltures in order to create better instruction and curricula in school. Even though the idea of understanding and appr eciating the different cultural and family background of each of our students sounds like common sense, in real life it is not that common. Although the data from my interactions with teac hers were not analyzed because I wanted to focus on family literacy, my limited experiences interacting with the teachers of these children 225

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from working-class new Chinese immigrant famili es showed that some teachers in school may easily ignore them. The stereotype of the mode l minority is strong: Ch inese children must come from highly educated families with acad emic assistance at home. The image of quiet/silent Asians may result from i gnorance of the childre n in our schools. I would like to end this secti on with my own reflections on th e philosophical influence that I had from my cultural mentor: The Great Teacher in Ancient China, Confucius. It was he who stated these beliefs about teachi ng thousands of years ago: you jiao wu lei and yin cai shi jiao. The first idea, you jiao wu lei, is from Confucian Analects (Book 15, Chapter 38) where he directly states that, in teaching there shoul d be no distinction of cl asses (Legge, 2003). In other words, teachers should treat all students with the same attitude no matter what backgrounds they are from. The second idea, y in cai shi jiao, is his core concept of education which means to adapt different kinds of pedagogies to different kinds of students based on personality, ability, interest, and ways of learning (Tsai, 1998). Despite the fact that his theories and ideas about political rule have long been used by political powers to control peop le, Confuciuss origin al educational beliefs focused on respect and flexibility. I believe that respect and flexibility should be two-way: both teachers and students respect each other as different individuals who can ha ve a positive influence on the other. Rethinking Funds of Knowledge Moll and Arnot-Hopffer (2005) define funds of knowledge as the historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of know ledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-be ing (p.72). In addition to funds of knowledge that can be categorized and labeled (agriculture and mining, material and sc ientific knowledge, economics, medicine, religion, etc.), they created a sample of household f unds of knowledge that households 226

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227 use in dealing with changing and often difficu lt, social and economic circumstances (p.73). Literacy practices are more than just written wo rds. Literacy practices, or as Gee (2005) calls them, Discourses, include cultura l beliefs, values, and also ways of living. Understanding these Discourses, or funds of knowledge, may give both pre-service and in-ser vice teachers a deeper understanding of students from diverse groups, a nd help them develop curricula that do not exclude the minority cultures. Dyson (1993), in her study of childrens soci al worlds, reminded us to value forms of literacy that may differ from traditional school li teracy. She states that we need to consider how we might create social situ ations that support childrens entry into new ways of using language (p. 219). In other words, how we e ducators should recognize, and acknowledge the funds of knowledge that children may bring to school from their families. As educators, we always want to encourage our students to read and write any time, any place, and maybe also in any form. However, as Messing (2005) states, The social context of the education of culturally and lingui stically diverse students in the United States today too often includes a wide gap between home and school worlds (p.183). In this gap, students from different cultural and li nguistic background may not have the same concepts of literacy as the mainstreamers. If school curricula recognize more than one kind of literacy, or situate literacy in different ways, children from diverse backgrounds may have more of a chance to connect to the real worlds.

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APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT LETTERS AND ASSENT SCRIPT Informed Consent (for parents) Protocol Title : Differences between the new immigrant children s literacy at home/outside school and the school literacy. Please read this consent document carefully befo re you decide to participate in this study Purpose of the research study : The study intends to learn in what way literacy at home and outside school is different from the school literacy and to explore how th e differences impact on new immigrant childrens school literacy development. With the study, the investigator inte nds to learn if there is a better way to bridge between family and school for Chinese immigrant families. What you will be asked to do in the study : Your children will be observed in different environments, such as family activities, community interactions, and in school. You will be asked to answer and discuss 5-8 interview questions. You also will be asked to help collect any liter acy product that your children have at home or bring from school. Time required : For the observation (at home), vary from 10 hours per week to 20 hours a week (including tutoring). The interviews will be 30-60 minutes. Risks and Benefits : No more than minimal risk. The family might be benefited by the free tutoring, but the benefit of the research is to provide additional information fo r understanding how immigrant families using literacy and whats the impacts on their children in developing their literacy when interacting within different social environments. Compensation: There is no compensation for participants in this study. Confidentiality: You and your child(ren)s identity will be kept c onfidential to the extent provided by law. Voluntary participation: You and your child(ren)s participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You and your child(ren) have the right to withdraw the study at any time without consequence. You and your child(ren) do not have to answer any questions you do not want to answer. Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250 ph352-392-0433 For any questions about this study, please contact me at following information: Ivy Haoyin Hsieh 2903 SW 13th St. Apt 16 Gainesville, FL 32608. ph 352-846-5109. email Dr. Danling Fu, (my faculty advisor), P.O. Box 117048 Gainesville, FL 32011-7048. ph 352-392-9191 *249 I have read the procedure outline above. I voluntarily agree to participate in this study and have received a copy of this description Participants Signature and Date ____________________________________________ Principle Investigators Signature and Dates ____________________________________________ 228

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Assent Script Dear Participant: I am a student at University of Florida. I am going to do a study on Chinese families living in the United States. I am mostly interested in how family influence on childrens using their language, reading and writing. This research will focus on all activities children have at home and outside school. You will be tutored by me and at the same time observed by me when you are with your family and your friends. Besides, you will be asked to keep any kind of pape rs such as letters, notes, drawing, writing assignments from home, and in school. All information you provide will be protected as y our privacy. You do not have to answer any question you dont want to. You can stop at any time. Thank you. If you have any questions, please ask me. 229

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230 Informed Consent (for teachers) Protocol Title : Differences between the new immigrant children s literacy at home/outside school and the school literacy Please read this consent document carefully befo re you decide to participate in this study Purpose of the research study : The study intends to learn in what way literacy at home and outside school is different from the school literacy and to explore how th e differences impact on new immigrant childrens school literacy development. With the study, the investigator inte nds to learn if there is a better way to bridge between family and school for Chinese immigrant families. What you will be asked to do in the study : Your children will be observed in school. You will be asked to answer and discuss 5-8 interview questions. You also will be aske d to help collect any literacy product that your children have in school. Time required : For the observation (in school), it will take 10 to 20 hours total, depend on the availability. The interviews will be 30-60 minutes. Risks and Benefits : No more than minimal risk. The family might be benefited by the free tutoring, but the benefit of the research is to provide additional information fo r understanding how immigrant families using literacy and whats the impacts on their children in developing their literacy when interacting within different social environments. Compensation: There is no compensation for participants in this study. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw the study at any time without consequence. You do not have to answer any questions you do not want to answer. Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250 ph352-392-0433 For any questions about this study, please contact me at following information: Ivy Haoyin Hsieh 2903 SW 13th St. Apt 16 Gainesville, FL 32608. ph 352-846-5109. email Dr. Danling Fu, (my faculty advisor), P.O. Box 117048 Gainesville, FL 32011-7048. ph 352-392-9191 *249 I have read the procedure outline above. I voluntarily agree to participate in this study and have received a copy of this description Participants Signature and Date ____________________________________________ Principle Investigators Signature and Dates ____________________________________________

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APPENDIX B ORAL SURVEYS Self introduction : I am a doctoral student of College of E ducation at University of Florida. I am interested in studying Chinese immigrant family children. I am willing to be a volunteer tutor to your children and help your family to communi cate with schools. Do you have time for some questions? 1. Do you have children here with you? How old are they? 2. Where were your children born? 3. What language do they use to communicate at home? 4. Do your children have any difficulties in school or learning? 5. What do you (and your husband/wife) do for a living? 6. Do you read and write in English? 7. Do you read and write in Chinese? 8. Do you find it difficult to communicate w ith your childrens teachers in school? 231

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APPENDIX C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Interview Questions for Parents 1. How do you communicate with your children? 2. Could you describe some of your daily ways of communication with your children? 3. What kinds of materials do you read and write, in either English or Chinese? 4. How do you read and write to/with your children? 5. How do you read and write or comm unicate/interact with others? 6. What are expectations do you have for your children? How do you think reading and writing will help them to reach these expectations? 7. Can you tell me about your experiences in communicating with your childrens teachers and their school? 8. How do you think teachers and school can help your children in reading and writing? 232

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Interview Questions for Children 1. How do you communicate with your parents? 2. Could you describe some of your daily ways of communication with your parents? 3. What kinds of materials do you read and write, in either English or Chinese? 4. How do you read and write to/with your parents? 5. How do you read and write or comm unicate/interact with others? 6. What do you want to do in the future? What do you think are your parents expectations on you? How do you think r eading and writing will help you and your family to reach your goal? 7. Can you tell me about your experiences in communicating with your teachers and school? 8. How do you think teachers and school can help you in reading and writing? 233

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Interview Questions for Teachers 1. How do you describe this child as a reader and a writer? 2. How do you describe hi s social network? 3. Could you describe his academic compet ency in reading and writing? Have you acculturated and problems regarding his reading and writing? 4. Could you describe your experiences relate d to communicating w ith his parents? 234

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APPENDIX D LIST OF INTERVIEW AND INFO RMAL CONVERSATION DATA Interview Data List Table D-1. Interview data list. # Date/clips Involved Language Length Note I-1 051108-1 Sam English 26:51 Verbatim Transcribed I-2 051108-2 Sam English 1:13 Verbatim Transcribed I-3 051108-3 Tim English 30:35 Verbatim Transcribed I-4 051112-1 Jane Chinese 28:13 Verbatim Transcribed I-5 051114-1 Mr. Wang Chinese 11:4 Verbatim Transcribed I-5 051114-2 Mr. Wang Chinese 2:03 Verbatim Transcribed I-6 051114-3 Mr. Wang Chinese 28:48 Verbatim Transcribed I-7 051114-4 Mr. Wang Chinese 10:04 Verbatim Transcribed I-8 051116-1 Mr. Chen Chinese 18:01 Verbatim Transcribed I-9 051116-2 Mr. Chen Chinese 3:48 Verbatim Transcribed I-10 051107-1 Xiao+Mom Chinese 1:06:49 Verbatim Transcribed I-11 060424-1-V037 Ms. W English 25:37 Verbatim Transcribed I-12 060424-2-V038 Ms. W English 4:32 Verbatim Transcribed I-13 060425-1-V041 Mrs. M English 21:02 Verbatim Transcribed 235

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Index of Informal Conversations Table D-2. Index of informal conversation. No. Date/clips Content Language Length Note C-1 050922-1 Sam+Tim English 5:58 Summarized C-2 050922-2 Xiao+Sam+Tim Chinese/ English(+) 48:32 Transcribed C-3 050922-3 Ken Chinese 8:15 Summarized C-4 050927-1 Tim English 23:44 Summarized C-5 050927-2 Tim+Sam English 37:53 Summarized C-6 050929-1 Jane+Tim+Sam Chinese/ English(+) 1:14:14 Summarized C-7 050929-2 Tim English 8:37 Summarized C-8 051004-1 Jane+Tim+Sam Chinese 30:58 invalid C-9 051008-1 Jane/restaurant Chinese 24:12 Summarized C-10 051008-2 restaurant Chinese 8:49 Summarized C-11 051008-3 restaurant Chinese/ English(+) 4:16 Summarized C-12 051008-4 restaurant Chinese/ English(+) 8:31 Summarized C-13 051008-5 (Sarah) restaurant English 3:24 Summarized C-14 051008-6 Mrs. Wang restaurant Chinese 7:56 Summarized C-15 051008-7 relatives restaurant Chinese 22:45 Summarized C-16 051008-8 Mrs. Wang restaurant Chinese 4:08 Summarized C-17 051008-9 Chen's -restaurant Chinese/ English 16:24 Summarized C-18 051008-10 Tim @ restaurant English 0:31 Invalid C-19 051018-1 Mr. Chen/TimChen's English/ Chinese 56:15 Summarized C-20 051022-1 Mrs. Chen restaurant Chinese/ English 16:49 Summarized C-21 051022-2 Mrs. Chen restaurant Chinese/ English 5:45 Summarized C-22 051022-3 Restaurant Chinese/ English 11:05 Summarized C-23 051022-4 Sam/Tim restaurant English 22:11 Summarized C-24 051022-5 Sam English 8:35 Summarized C-25 051022-6 ?? 1:41 Invalid C-26 051022-7 Sam and Tim English 15:52 Invalid C-27 051022-8 Sam and Tim in the car English/ Chinese 3:27 Invalid C-28 051022-9 Tim English 2:03 Invalid C-29 051022-10 Sam English 8:25 Transcribed C-30 051022-11 Sam in the restaurant English 16:27 Transcribed C-31 051024-1 Tim reading English 21:14 Transcribed C-32 051024-2 Sam (and Tim) Chen's English 52:42 Transcribed 236

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237 No. Date/clips Content Language Length Note C-33 051024-3 Sam Chen's English 16:11 Transcribed C-34 051029-1 Chat with people restaurant Chinese/ English 44:37 Transcribed C-35 051029-2 Sam Book A Million English 12:26 Transcribed C-36 051029-3 Book A Million English 13:22 Transcribed C-37 051029-4 Tim Book A million English 5:16 Transcribed C-38 051029-5 Tim Book A million English 8:35 Transcribed C-39 051029-6 Tim Book A million English 0:44 Transcribed C-40 051029-7 Tim Book A million English 3:40 Transcribed C-41 051029-8 restaurant Chinese 8:00 Summarized C-42 051029-9 restaurant kitchen Chinese 5:18 Summarized C-43 051029-10 Restaurant Chinese 6:05 Summarized C-44 051116-1 Chat with Mrs. Chen Chinese 15:03 Summarized C-45 051116-2 Chat with Mrs. Chen Chinese 10:03 Summarized C-46 051116-3 Chat with Mrs. Chen Chinese 14:26 Summarized C-47 060119-1 homework with Sam English 11:03 Transcribed C-48 060119-2 homework with Sam English 20:09 Transcribed C-49 060119-3 chat with Sam (Sam cried) English 1:00:38 Transcribed C-50 060209-1 Tim reading English 16:03 Transcribed C-51 060209-2 Sam English 6:19 Transcribed C-52 060209-3 Sam (dating) English 12:58 Transcribed C-53 060216-1 Tim English 28:45 Transcribed C-54 060216-2 Sam English 1:57 Transcribed C-55 060223-1 FCAT Bookstore English 1:11:39 Transcribed C-56 060223-2 Sam and Tim bookstore English 2:23 Transcribed C-57 060223-3 Sam and Tim car English 1:13 Transcribed C-58 060223-4 Restaurant English 1:09 Transcribed C-59 060223-5 Tims healthy sheet @res Chinese 5:39 Invalid C-60 060223-6 Mrs. Wang restaurant Chinese 5:17 Summarized C-61 060302-1 Xiao Chinese 36:12 Summarized C-62 060302-2 Mr. + Mrs. Wang res Chinese 9:15 Summarized C-63 060302-3 Tim and Sam Chens English 3:27 Transcribed C-64 060302-4 Tim and Sam Chens English 7:13 Transcribed C-65 060302-5 Tim and Sam Chens English 0:38 Transcribed C-66 060302-6 Tim and Sam Chens English 2:05 Transcribed C-67 060302-7 Tim and Sam Chens English 2:23 Transcribed C-68 060302-8 Tim and Sam car? English 7:23 Transcribed C-69 060302-9 Tim and Sam car? English 0:33 Transcribed C-70 060302-10 Tim and Sam (about marri ed?) English 11:17 Transcribed C-71 060424V039 Tim English 25.32 Transcribed C-72 060424V040 Sam English 4.06 Transcribed C-73 060425V042 Jeff Chinese 6.38 Summarized

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No. Date/clips Content Language Length Note C-74 060425V044 self reminder Chinese 1.01 Invalid C-75 060510V045 Jane Chinese 46.22 Summarized C-76 060811-1 V060 Tim and Sams open house (home) English 0.23 Invalid C-77 060811-2V061 Tim English 7.24 Summarized C-78 060811-3V062 Conversation with Tim Chinese 10.40 Summarized C-79 060811-4V063 Tims school open house English 0.44 Invalid C-80 060811-5V064 Tim English 0.11 Invalid C-81 060811-6V065 Tim English 2.52 Summarized C-82 060811-7V066 Tim English 4.42 Summarized C-83 060811-8V067 Mr. and Mrs. Chen @ restaurant talking about Tims change after visiting China Chinese 8.44 Transcribed C-84 060811-9V068 Contd Chinese 0.28 Invalid C-85 060811-10V069 Contd Jane brought gifts Chinese 6.30 Transcribed C-86 060819-1V070 Soccer meeting in Sams school English 1.16 Summarized C-87 060819-2V071 Check the immunization sheet English 1.04 Summarized C-88 060819-3V072 Contd 2.56 Summarized C-89 060819-4V073 Sam wants to go to the best college English 2.31 Summarized C-90 060914V076 Mrs. Chen wants me to talk with Sam asking about Sams teacher Chinese/ Englsih 35.21 Transcribed C-91 060920-1V079 Talk to Ken, Mrs. Wang @ restaurant ~6:17pm Chinese 15.29 Transcribed C-92 060920-2V001 Make brownie with Sam @ home ~10:45pm 38.56 Summarized C-93 060920-3V002 Making cake English 14.20 Summarized C-94 060920-4V003 Mrs. Chen came home ~11:30pm 8.30 Mr.Chen came back Chinese 34.00 Transcribed 238

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# Date/clips Content Language Length Note C-95 060924-1V004 11:00pm-11:30pm help Tim to fill out lunch deduction form English 20.01 Transcribed C-96 060924-2V005 More conversation with Tim English 4.42 Summarized C-97 060924-3V006 Contd English 0.45 Invalid C-98 060928V008 Talk with Jane @ restaurant about a speed ticket Chinese 3.44 Transcribed C-99 061011V010 Fill out form for Xiao @ restaurant 26.44 Transcribed C-100 061012-1V012 Conversation with Sam @ Chens English 7.04 Summarized C-101 061012-2V013 Sam wants to convince me to go to his school for a family literacy night English/ Chinese 10.35 Summarized C-102 061012-3V014 Jane was there too English/ Chinese 1.20 Summarized C-103 061012-4V015 Talks about the books Sam like (with photo) English 4.45 Summarized C-104 061012-5V016 Sam wants to buy a car, he will work in the restaurant to earn some money English 2.51 Summarized C-105 061019-1V017 After meeting with Tims teacher, conversation with John in front of Tims school Chinese 49.38 Transcribed C-106 061019-2V018 Chat with Tim and John @ restaurant English/ Chinese 2.33 Transcribed C-107 061019-3V019 Conversation with Ken (restaurant) Chinese 0.40 Invalid C-108 061019-4V020 Conversation with Tim (restaurant) Chinese/ English 19.16 Summarized C-109 061019-5V021 Conversation with Se n (restaurant) Chinese 5.50 Summarized C-110 061130-1V025 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 9.11 Summarized C-111 061130-2V026 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 5.33 Summarized C-112 061130-3V027 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 9.39 Summarized C-113 061130-4V028 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 8.49 Summarized C-114 061130-5V029 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 14.09 Summarized 239

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# Date/clips Content Language Length Note C-115 061130-6V030 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 32.32 Summarized C-116 061130-7V031 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 0.30 Invalid C-117 061130-8V033 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 8.59 Summarized C-118 061130-9V034 Conversation with Sam @ my apartment English 28.57 Summarized C-119 061130-10V036 Celebrating Wangs legal status @ restaurant Chinese 18.10 Transcribed C-120 061130-11V037 Chens house with John (TV/politics) Chinese 7.05 Summarized C-121 060108V040 Math tutoring @ Ivys apartment English 9.38 Summarized C-122 070109-1V041 Tims school w/John Chinese 0.27 Invalid C-123 070109-2V042 Tims school w/teacher & John Chinese/ English 53.01 Transvribed C-124 070116-1V043 Conversation w/Tim English 9.49 Summarized C-125 070116-2V044 Conversation w/Tim English 6.05 Summarized C-126 070116-3V045 Conversation w/Sam English 29.26 Summarized C-127 070124-1V052 Bring Tims work to the restaurant With Mr. Chen/Mr. & Mrs. Wang Chinese 14.43 Summarized C-128 070124-2V053 To Xiao Chinese 3.00 Invalid C-129 070124-3V054 Talk to Xiao Chinese 25.57 Summarized C-130 070217-1V055 Chinese New Year Chinese 7.38 Summarized C-131 070217-2V056 Discuss Xiaos form Chinese 0.39 Summarized C-132 070217-3V057 Talk about Tims piano show Chinese 3.50 Summarized C-133 070217-4V058 Talk about Tims piano show Chinese 1.35 Summarized 240

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APPENDIX E RECORD OF PHONE CONVERSATION Table E-1. Record of phone conversation. No. Date Starting Time Tota l minutes Receiving/calling out 1 050706 8:56pm 1 out 2 050712 9:24pm 3 out 3 050720 12:43pm 3 out 4 050803 10:27am 3 Receiving 5 050807 2:57pm 2 out 6 050812 11:35am 3 Receiving 7 050812 11:57am 1 Receiving 8 050815 9:26am 1 Receiving 9 050817 4:56pm 4 out 10 050822 7:50pm 1 Receiving 11 050823 3:53pm 2 Receiving 12 050823 3:57pm 1 out 13 050826 3:41pm 8 Receiving 14 050830 3:44pm 1 Receiving 15 050830 3:46pm 1 Receiving 16 050830 3:48pm 3 out 17 050830 3:51pm 3 Receiving 18 050830 5:27pm 2 out 19 050901 12:21pm 1 Receiving 20 050908 5:05pm 4 Receiving 21 050915 4:55pm 1 out 22 050915 5:25pm 1 Receiving 23 050925 12:54pm 3 Receiving 24 050929 9:07pm 1 out 25 051001 11:15am 6 Receiving 26 051001 10:34pm 3 out 27 051002 3:08pm 5 Receiving 28 051003 11:20am 2 Receiving 29 051004 1:14pm 1 Receiving 30 051006 3:33pm 2 out 31 051006 4:50pm 2 out 32 051006 6:12pm 1 Receiving 33 051017 4:42pm 6 Receiving 34 051018 11:07am 1 out 35 051019 5:07pm 3 out 36 051024 5:48pm 1 Receiving 37 051027 4:51pm 1 Receiving 38 051029 2:14pm 2 Receiving 39 051031 4:20pm 2 Receiving 40 051031 6:07pm 3 Receiving 41 051103 7:56pm 4 Receiving 241

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No. Date Starting Time Tota l minutes Receiving/calling out 42 051105 11:24am 6 Out 43 051109 3:49pm 3 Receiving 44 051110 12:11pm 2 Receiving 45 051112 3:40pm 1 Receiving 46 051112 7:13pm 1 Receiving 47 051114 3:40pm 2 Out 48 051116 1:21pm 1 Out 49 051116 1:22pm 1 Out 50 051128 9:28pm 1 Out 51 051128 11:14pm 6 Out 52 051129 5:20pm 1 Receiving 53 060108 12:12pm 12 Receiving 54 060110 7:48pm 1 Out 55 060114 4:43pm 1 Out 56 060114 5:12pm 4 Receiving 57 060120 3:13pm 2 Out 58 060123 10:34pm 1 Receiving 59 060125 8:59am 1 Out 60 060125 11:52am 2 Out 61 060125 11:54am 1 Receiving 62 060128 3:46pm 1 Receiving 63 060130 6:27pm 4 Out 64 060206 3:34pm 3 Receiving 65 060207 1:15pm 2 Receiving 66 060207 1:20pm 3 Out 67 060207 2:11pm 7 Receiving 68 060207 2:20pm 3 Receiving 69 060207 2:24pm 3 Receiving 70 060207 2:33pm 2 Out 71 060207 2:59pm 1 Receiving 72 060207 3:08pm 1 Out 73 060207 3:13pm 2 Out 74 060207 3:17pm 2 Receiving 75 060215 5:22pm 4 Receiving 76 060216 6:30pm 3 Out 77 060223 6:10pm 2 Out 78 060223 6:12pm 11 Out 79 060225 3:29pm 2 Out 80 060225 6:38pm 2 Out 81 060225 6:42pm 1 Receiving 82 060225 7:51pm 2 Receiving 83 060226 5:26pm 5 Receiving 84 060302 3:59pm 1 Out 85 060305 5:22pm 3 Receiving 242

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No. Date Starting Time Tota l minutes Receiving/calling out 86 060308 3:28pm 1 Out 87 060309 2:02pm 2 Receiving 88 060309 5:14pm 1 Out 89 060311 8:11pm 2 Receiving 90 060318 3:48pm 1 Receiving 91 060318 5:13pm 4 Out 92 060318 7:07pm 2 Receiving 93 060321 7:22pm 3 Receiving 94 060323 5:33pm 1 Receiving 95 060323 7:39pm 2 Out 96 060413 1:51pm 2 Receiving 97 060413 3:46pm 1 Receiving 98 060413 4:04pm 2 Out 99 060417 5:03pm 2 Out 100 060419 3:55pm 1 Receiving 101 060421 3:11pm 6 Out 102 060422 5:28pm 12 Receiving 103 060425 1:46pm 1 Receiving 104 060502 7:21pm 2 Receiving 105 060506 8:31pm 9 Receiving 106 060510 1:41pm 1 Receiving 107 060702 5:52pm 3 Receiving 108 060801 3:11pm 2 Receiving 109 060811 11:29am 2 Out 110 060831 3:27pm 14 Receiving 111 060920 5:10pm 7 Out 112 060925 10:42pm 28 Receiving 113 061005 4:25pm 6 Out 114 061006 8:24pm 3 Receiving 115 061019 1:56pm 3 Out 116 061021 8:51pm 2 Receiving 117 061022 8:15pm 5 Receiving 118 061022 9:00pm 2 Out 119 061026 4:43pm 15 Receiving 120 061028 4:56pm 6 Receiving 121 061028 5:13pm 3 Out 122 061101 11:03pm 10 Receiving 123 061102 12:11am 20 Receiving 124 061106 2:21pm 2 Receiving 125 061114 2:44pm 5 Receiving 126 061114 2:55pm 5 Receiving 127 061114 3:00pm 1 Receiving 128 061114 3:04pm 1 Out 129 061115 2:57pm 3 Out 130 061116 12:21am 9 Receiving 243

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No. Date Starting Time Tota l minutes Receiving/calling out 131 061130 7:30pm 3 Receiving 132 061130 10:18pm 2 Receiving 133 061130 10:52pm 1 Receiving 134 061212 5:03pm 4 Receiving 135 061220 1:19pm 5 Receiving 136 070106 5:13pm 2 Receiving 137 070108 5:31pm 1 Receiving 138 070108 7:04pm 2 Receiving 139 070108 7:20pm 1 Receiving 140 070109 1:53pm 1 Out 141 070112 4:06pm 5 Receiving 142 070116 4:51pm 2 Out 143 070116 7:49pm 4 Receiving 144 070121 12:09pm 14 Receiving 145 070122 5:40pm 13 Receiving 146 070130 12:38am 2 Receiving 147 070130 12:45am 7 Receiving 148 070130 4:45pm 1 Receiving 149 070130 9:59pm 15 Receiving 150 070217 11:39am 2 Receiving 151 070217 10:58pm 1 Receiving 244

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APPENDIX F INDEX OF INSTANT MESSANGER CONVERSATION Table F-1. Summary of instant messenger conversation. No. Date Starting Time End Time Caller Summary 1 060421 11:30pm 11:43pm Ivy Sam told me about his school 2 060708 10:27pm 10:33pm Sam Sam in China sharing his experiences in China 3 060816 12:19am 12:28am Sam Ask me to go with him to a soccer meeting for the next day 4 060911 07:32pm 07:47pm Ivy Sam told me about his math classes 5 060919 12:16am 12:34am Sam Sam asked me to go help him make a cake 6 060920 08:27pm 08:29pm Sam Confirm if I could go make cake with him 7 060924 03:51pm 04:02pm Ivy I told Sam that I was going to visit the family late at night 8 061006 08:26pm 08:27pm Ivy Show Sam a website that her mom asked information about 9 061007 02:41am 02:47am Sam Short chatting 10 061018 11:02pm 11:30pm Ivy Asked Sam to remind his father about the meeting at Tims school next day 11 061022 08:24pm 09:27pm Ivy I checked a ticket schedule that Jane asked about with Sam 12 061025 08:54 08:59pm Ivy Left a message to Sam (he was away) about the flight schedule 13 061115 09:44pm 09:53pm Ivy I taught Sam to use hotmail email account to compose and send emails 14 061125 02:49pm 02:56pm Sam Sam apologized to me. He did not print out the tickets for his mother and I called to check the night before. 15 061130 12:42am 01:00am Sam Sam complained of Tim 16 061130 05:14pm 05:41pm Sam Sam asked me to help him with his homework assignment, he finally ended up with coming to my apartment to get the face-toface assistance 17 061203 09:25pm 09:40pm Ivy I sent the websites of cameras that Sams mom was asking about 245

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246 No. Date Starting Time End Time Caller Summary 18 061204 07:42pm 10:13pm Sam Sam asked help for his project and wanted me to help him at his house. I did not want to go so we tried to solve the problems through on-line discussions 19 061209 12:06am 12:26am Ivy I confirmed with Sam about the camera information for his mom 20 061211 01:34am 01:34am Ivy I sent another website to Sam 21 061212 12:00am 12:30am Ivy Sam and I discussed the different cameras and price 22 070106 12:00am 12:19am Sam Sam asked me to help him to prepare his exams 23 070108 5:37pm 6:05pm Ivy Sam kept asking more math questions for the examines and tried to convince me to help him at his house

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Ivy Ha oyin Hsieh received her B.A. in French Language and Literature from the Chinese Cultur e University in Taipei, Taiwan, and her M.Ed. specialized in TESL from the University of Cent ral Oklahoma. Prior to her doctoral studies, she taught freshman English and English Composition at the college level. She holds a certificate in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and ta ught Chinese in an overseas Chinese school, an American middle school and as a teaching assistant in college. During her doctoral studies Ivy taught Language Arts Methods and Ch ildrens Literature courses for pre-service and in-ser vice teachers and supervised inte rns in an elementary school. In addition to her longitudinal dissertation researc h, she conducted various st udies that related to her interests which include teaching English to diverse learners, immigrant family literacy, bilingual/bicultural children, multicultural educati on, international childrens literature, language arts in composition, and qualitative research. After obtaining her doctoral degree, Ivy accepte d a position as Assistant Professor of ESL/Bilingual Education in the Department of La nguage, Literacy and Special Populations at the Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. 259