Winds of Change: Mexico in a Town in Appalachia
Knowles III, John William
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This qualitative study examined the changes that have occurred due to global and hemispheric market forces, and particularly through Hispanic immigration, in a small town in Southwest Virginia. The interdisciplinary study is written as a narrative, and includes descriptions of the town and people of Galax, Virginia and of the predominately Mexican immigrants who have come to live there. The primary focus is on the changes and challenges that occur in schools from the perspective of teachers and administrators, as well as from the students. Local residents and Hispanic immigrants alike share their perspectives on the impacts of immigration and their efforts to accommodate changes in their lives and communities. The researcher draws from his personal experience as an immigrant to Mexico to probe the search for identity and meaning that are common to immigrants. The study found that Hispanic children have devised an unofficial dual-language peer support system for learning in the classrooms that circumvents the assimilationist approach to which the schools have adhered. Immigrant children experience marginalization even in caring school environments such as those found in the Galax schools, due largely to the lack of preparation of teachers and administrators in culturally appropriate pedagogy. The study calls for more direct involvement between the university and local communities experiencing significant change due to global forces. Demographic change through immigration impacts schools implicitly, and requires the support and education of teachers and administrators through regional schools of education.
- Doctoral Dissertations