Academic journal article Social Justice

Transnational and Transgenerational Latina/o Cultural Citizenship among Kindergarteners, Their Parents, and University Students in Utah

Academic journal article Social Justice

Transnational and Transgenerational Latina/o Cultural Citizenship among Kindergarteners, Their Parents, and University Students in Utah

Article excerpt

Introduction

HOW DO LATINAS/OS ACROSS GENERATIONS AND ACROSS A RANGE OF CITIZENSHIP/ residency status construct, negotiate, and contest their cultural citizenship? What complexities exist as Latinas/os enact their forms of cultural citizenship? This essay analyzes and discusses data from our ongoing work with a school/university/community educational partnership. Named Adelante: A College Awareness and Preparatory Partnership, it was formed in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the spring of 2005. As exemplified by the quotes below, the first year of the partnership provided opportunities for kindergarteners, their parents, their university mentors, and university faculty and officials to begin to discuss their hopes and expectations of university attendance and community membership. The partnership provided spaces for the mainly Latina/o student population and community to discuss university attendance, and it allowed for this discourse to occur in university settings.

   It's fun [university visits] because everyday you get to go there
   and you get to be a student.... We have t-shirts that say "Future
   College Student" (Interview with Latina, U.S. citizen, Adelante
   kindergartner participant).

   Ella ahorita esta conociendo la universidad, se esta familiarizando
   con lo que seria en el futuro. Ella esta, por ejemplo en clases mas
   avanzadas que en la escuela. Que ya el experimento, los llevan
   aljardin, esta estudiando un poco mas. Entonces ella esta
   creciendo, esta captando nuevas cosas, no solo esta enfocada en el
   curriculo de la escuela y punto. O sea es algo mrs. [Right now
   she's getting to know the university. She's familiarizing herself
   with what she'll be in the future. For example, she's in more
   advanced programs than at school. Now she's doing experiments; they
   go to the garden, they're studying a little more. Therefore, she's
   growing, she's capturing new things, she's not just focused on
   school curriculum, period. It's something more.] (Interview with
   Latina, undocumented resident, Adelante mother participant).

   Como una mentor yo ... trabajo con los ninos para que salga a la
   luz todos esos recursos culturales que tienen ellos adentro....
   Pero los ninos tambien nos sirven a nosotros como mentores porque
   ellos nos ofrecen su sabiduria sobre los asuntos que ... enfrentan
   ellos como ninos. [As a mentor I ... work with the children so that
   all the cultural resources that they posses will come to light....
   But the children also mentor us because they provide us with their
   wisdom, sharing their lived experiences as children.] (Interview
   with Latina, documented U.S. resident, Adelante mentor
   participant).

   They [Adelante children and their families] are infusing life and
   breath into the campus community (Interview with Latina,
   third-generation U.S. citizen, university professor/administrator
   participant).

Based on one academic year of parent and student interviews and participant observation data, we explored the tensions and complexities surrounding cultural and legal citizenship across different generations of these Utah Latinas/os. Studying citizenship across generations and across residency status allows educators and community activists to better understand how the meaning of citizenship is learned in various sets of relationships across transnational spaces and how knowledge about citizenship identity is shared among members in a community. We examined how the everyday cultural practices of this group of transnational and transgenerational Latinas/os, as well as their participation in the spring 2006 marches favoring immigration reform and a national boycott, transform the traditional meaning of "citizen." They can be understood as "pedagogies of cultural citizenship," that is, pedagogies grounded in everyday cultural practices that contribute to the teaching and learning of citizenship formation beyond the classroom. …

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