Crossing the United States-Mexico border: effects on literacy practices and identity




Hudson, Carole Brown

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The focus statement: Regardless of constraint and conflict, students have crossed the United States-Mexico Border for the purpose of education. How does routine border crossing affect the literacy practices and identity of a Hispanic student attending college in the United States? This is a qualitative research study that examined the literacy practices of a Mexican-American, undergraduate college student enrolled at The College of Education and Human Development at The University of Texas at San Antonio. This student travels regularly between San Antonio, Texas and her home in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border to attend classes. The student volunteer answered questions during an oral interview and completed a written questionnaire about her reading, writing, and language proficiency practices, affected by crossing the United States-Mexico Border for education. She also recorded a timeline of what she read and the locale and time of each reading activity during one week. I compared her experiences with those of students in existing studies who crossed the border for educational purposes. Field notes were compiled by the researcher during and between all interchanges with the student. An open coding method was used as a measure for evaluating answers about this student's literacy practices. Further, these oral, written and timeline reports were considered in identifying literacy practices and changes over time in her identity, as she traveled back and forth between her home country, Mexico, and her host country, the United States. This study involved three themes: 1) Reading habits and literacy practices of a transnational student, 2) Locale and mobility during reading activities (U.S. and Mexico), 3) Self-identity or how the subject perceived herself as a reader and transnational student in her home country and host country. The questions posed were: 1. What does a Mexican-American transnational adolescent read who traveled back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico Border, to attend school on both sides of the border? (reading/literacy practices), 2. What did she indicate she preferred to read? Did she read in both Spanish and English? Did locale affect her choice of language or type of reading? (reading/literacy habits and locale), 3. How did her reading, communication and language proficiency change over time? (reading/literacy/speaking practices), 4. How did her self-image change over time? (self-image/identity).


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Border crossing, Education, Immigrant students, Transnational students



Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching