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High School Latinx Counternarratives

Experiences in School and Post-graduation


Juan A. Ríos Vega

This book represents an ethnographic study of the experiences and counternarratives of twelve Latinx young adults. All of the participants in this study are first generation immigrants to the United States, representing different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and immigration statuses. Drawing from Latino Critical Theory (LatCrit) and Queers of Color Epistemologies as a theoretical framework, this book analyzes the personal experiences of Latinx during and after finishing high school. This book uses a classroom project (dialogue journals) to reconnect with twelve former English language learners (ELLs) from the Southeast after ten years. Through the use of dialogue journals as an English as a second language (ESL) strategy to support writing, the participants in this book document personal and communal experiences as Latinx immigrants in the United States. This book will represent an excellent asset for teachers, school administrators, counselors, staff, preservice teachers, practicing educators, graduate students, scholars, and policymakers.

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Chapter One Latinx Voices Counternarratives


Latinx Voices Counternarratives

As a high school teacher, I had no idea how to save my students from their own lives except to include them in my writing, not for their sake, but for my own. I couldn’t undo myself from their stories any other way. How do you get any sleep at night if you witness stories that don’t let you go? (Cisneros, 2015, p. 39)

It was in the summer of 2017 when I went back to the semi-rural county in North Carolina where I had worked as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher for over 15 years in two different high schools. It was a strange feeling while driving down the streets and recalling familiar places with nostalgia and mixed feelings. I felt like a ghost coming back to visit and to reconnect with my former students. My students and I agreed to meet at the local library, my favorite place since I came to live in the county. I have to admit that reconnecting with my students after 5–10 years was very exciting but at the same time painful. It was also exciting since I wanted to find out what had happened with their lives after they finished high school but painful to hear about their struggles and challenges. I still recall how I went home one night and could not sleep at all after seeing one of students ←1 | 2→crying for not accomplishing her dreams of becoming...

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