"I don't think of myself as a nerd"
Park, Hye Young
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This narrative inquiry explored the experiences of six Korean immigrant adolescents (KIAs) as learners in the United States. The purpose of this study was to understand KIAs’ identity construction and literacy practices through their narratives in a short story club and interview. I sought to answer the overarching question: How do Korean immigrant adolescents see themselves within the socio-cultural context of the United States across school, home, and communities, and how do they construct their identities and practice literacy in those contexts? This study was conducted in a small town in the southern part of the United States. The participants were six high school students who emigrated from South Korea and used two languages, Korean and English. The researcher collected data by using the methods of participant observation and individual interview from January 2011 to May 2011. Guided by the works of Wortham (2000, 2001), Bamberg (1997, 2004), De Fine & Georgakopoulou (2008) and Riessman (2008), the researcher analyzed the KIAs’narratives. Drawing on the works of Bakhtin (1981, 1984, 1986), Hermans and Kempen (1993, 1998), Bhatia and Ram (2001), and Jensen (2011), the researcher interpreted Korean immigrants’ identity construction and literacy practices across the intersecting spaces of home, school, and community. In the narratives of Brian and Jen, the participants on which this study focused, the researcher understood that KIAs continuously crafted their own hybridized identities/cultures by moving, mixing, hedging, and dialoguing with voices inside and outside them. For Brian and Jen, this was not a neutral but rather a power intervened process. In this way, two prominent features of their identity narratives were observed: Narrative as spatialization and ventriloquation. This study suggested the need for educators to view immigrant adolescents as having agency. Thus, this study calls for a more careful and nuanced investigation of immigrant adolescents’ identities and literacy practices across cultural, geographic, and linguistic borders.