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Cultural Conflict and Struggle

Literacy Learning in a Kindergarten Program


Patricia Schmidt

This story began in an educational setting where two children who were physically and culturally different experienced conflict on a daily basis. Peley’s family emigrated from Cambodia and Vietnam, Raji’s from Bombay. Both children struggled throughout their first year of formal education in a predominately white suburban school district. Social and academic problems developed during work and play, formal literacy learning, holidays and celebrations, and home/school communications. Their teacher, Ms. Starr, also struggled as she tried to understand the two children and their families, watching helplessly as Peley and Raji became isolated in the kindergarten program. At the end of this compelling account, specific classroom recommendations are offered to present and future educators.