October 21, 2007

Refocus

Posted in Independent Study at 7: 12 pm by MK

After meeting with my professor to discuss the progress of my independent study, we’re realizing that my current reading list and focus might need to be adjusted slightly.  I’ve been reading a lot of composition theory focusing on second-language learning and writing.  While some of this is obviously relevant, it seems that my project has really taken on more of an anthropological/sociological study.  In light of this realization, I’m going to read more books like Fadiman’s.  I want to understand what it means to be both participant and observer of a group.

So perhaps the bigger question is why?  As I think about my goals for this study, and my interaction with A. and K. and their children, I realize that this is much bigger than a class in my graduate program.  I can’t simply separate my interactions with the family as simply a “project,” and when the semester is over I’m not walking away.  But at the same time how do I balance my personal investment with that of my research investment.  What is at stake for both?

Bottom line, I’m already personally invested.  So my goals for research I think begin to heighten my personal investment.
I believe that by telling A. and K.’s story, I can put a real name and face to the thousands of refugee families crossing U.S. borders each year.  In many ways, A. and K. and the hundreds of other Burmese families living in my community are invisible.  Without the ability to speak English and become active participants in their city, they fade to the background.  And yet their desire to be part of it all is fierce.

At this point I fill the role of both observer and advocate, and for now that feels right.

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