Following the Textual Sources writing prompt (Liese et al., 2017) shared by my Advisor, Jordanne Christie:
I feel that the most relevant piece of writing to my project – one that I return to over and over again – is Masinda, Jacquet and Moore’s 2014 article: An Integrated Framework for Immigrant Children and Youth’s School Integration: A Focus on African Francophone Students in British Columbia – Canada. The authors describe their previous research, outcomes of their interviews, and set out an integrated guiding framework for teachers and administrators to implement in the integration process of immigrant children and youth.
The article explores the experience of immigrant African Francophone students in particular, but looks at the social, cultural, psycho-social, and academic factors of the larger immigrant experience demonstrating how those critical pieces contribute to or detract from a successful school integration. The African Francophone experience is an interesting example as this group represents a “minority within a minority context” (Masinda et al., 2014, p. 92): a cultural/racial minority within the French language speaking minority here in BC. The authors composed a diverse research team who were all English and French speaking, along with various African languages. In broad strokes the research consisted of individual and group interviews in iterative phases, community observation, and literature review, followed by opportunity for voice – specifically youth voice – to form the corpus of data.
Masinda et al.’s (2014) article was the first place that fully clarified for me that it is the immigrant/refugee student that continues to be the focus of acculturation, rather than all students be the focus of cultural integration. That the voice of the new student is drowned out in the call to make them sound more like the domestic students. While I already knew that I wanted to develop something that was more inclusive, this is the article that gave me the vocabulary to do it. This paper also gave me a working definition of what a positive integration can look like: “the healthy social, cultural, psychological and academic transitions that help immigrant children and youth to realize their full potential in the school” (p. 99).
The components identified by Masinda et al. (2014) that comprise the Integrated Framework are social, cultural, psychological, and academic. The article looks at each in detail, and ways of recognizing success in each area from immediate to long-term results. The paper concludes with a list of 9 recommendations that can be generalized to support any immigrant groups in most school settings.
The social and cultural aspects of the framework in particular were something I intend to approach with my project, particularly the immediate results shown in the framework diagram: that “newcomer students and peers understand each other, positive connectedness [sic]”, and that “newcomer students have a better understanding of school and Canadian Culture” (p. 100). My hope is that, through the use of games, that the initial cultural distance can be decreased and that students will understand rather than ‘other’ each other.
For me, this paper was a goldmine. Reading it last fall confirmed some of the thinking I was developing, and opened up my mind to new understandings of stressors and difficulties that children and youth say are barriers to their positive integration. Although this paper concentrates specifically on Francophone African children and youth in the Lower Mainland of BC, many of the things that the authors revealed in the paper can be seen here in other immigrant groups (in the Interior). The concluding recommendations could be implemented in most schools to promote student’s connection to their new school, peers, educators, and culture.
I enjoyed that the final recommendations included ones that support educators with practical direction. Helping teachers identify their own needs and assets as well as looking at the domestic student and teacher inter-cultural competence when welcoming new students would support everyone in the equation.
Finally, the reference list from this paper was a treasure trove of well researched, relevant and recent resources that I’m still working my way through.
The initial writing prompt was to talk about a meaningful text as though I were at a dinner party (Liese et al., 2017) – this isn’t entirely that, and this past year has been devoid of dinner parties. My partner has heard about facets of this article many times, though, over dinner and otherwise. It has acted as an anchor document for me throughout the research process, and a place I have come back to when stuck or needing to reorient. I count myself lucky to have found it early on in my process, and have shared it widely.