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Here I am now! Community service -learning with immigrant and refugee undergraduate students and youth: The use of critical pedagogy, situated-learning and funds of knowledge

Janna Shadduck-Hernandez, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Abstract

Here I am Now! was the title immigrant and refugee undergraduate students and local refugee community youth gave to their participatory photography installation displayed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This exhibit was the culmination of students' participation in a series of alternative community service-learning (CSL) courses offered through CIRCLE (Center for Immigrant and Refugee Community Leadership and Empowerment). Here first-generation undergraduate students mentored neighboring Vietnamese and Cambodian refugee youth using photography and art and applying community development education principles and techniques. ^ While community service-learning pedagogy has become an established educational practice on most U.S. universities and colleges today, little research has been conducted viewing the educational impact of community service-learning pedagogy on diverse student populations. The majority of the scholarship in this field focuses on the experiences of white middle-class students engaged in service-learning relationships with communities from unfamiliar and different socio-cultural, racial, ethic and economic backgrounds (Dunlap, 1998). ^ This dissertation presents a different perspective. Here I examine how immigrant and refugee undergraduate students understood and made meaning of their participation in a community service-learning experience with youth from familiar and similar ethnocultural contexts. This model valued participants' common cultural assets, highlighted the immigrant and refugee experience, and attended to specific local refugee community needs. To answer my research questions I applied critical ethnographic approaches and analyzed student narratives (interviews, journal entries, reflection papers, poetry and photography) to better understand participants' community-service learning experiences. ^ Through the prisms of three educational learning theories I review the university context, highlight aspects of the situation under study and proceed to build an emerging framework for CSL pedagogy with diverse communities. These theories include; experiential and critical pedagogy, situated learning theory, and the anthropological concept, funds of knowledge, as guides toward developing culturally relevant CSL curriculum with immigrant and refugee learners. Through student narratives, I demonstrate that critical CSL curriculum and service that emphasize peer learning and strategic and cultural resources (funds of knowledge), provide diverse undergraduate students with alternative and creative spaces of critique and possibility in their higher education and community service-learning experiences. ^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Janna Shadduck-Hernandez, "Here I am now! Community service -learning with immigrant and refugee undergraduate students and youth: The use of critical pedagogy, situated-learning and funds of knowledge" (January 1, 2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI3179924.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3179924

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