"Aprendí que puedo hablar/I learned that I could speak": Examining identity processes that shape the development of personal and public youth voice in Youth Radio Arts for immigrant youth
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
5:20 PM, Wednesday 30 Aug 2017 (30 minutes)
Convention Center - 205 B
This paper examines identity processes that contributed to the development of personal and public voice among immigrant youth participating in a year-long Youth Radio Arts program. I focus on the semiotic work involving identity constructions engaged by youth through the use and production of cultural elements such as a youth feature story. As a material artifact, a feature story can be used to develop connections among different spheres of experience, such as home, peer groups, and school, when class discussion supports these kinds of explicit connections and class projects promote semiotic work (semiosis) on the part of students. The meaning making and identity work undertaken through the use and creation of cultural elements in the program created spaces for containing and transforming feelings, identities, and exploring alternative experiences through imagination. To understand how resources for identity development afforded within the program were appropriated and transformed by the individual-within-the-collective, and how identity processes become consequential for individual learning and development, I combine elements of interactional ethnography (Putney et al., 2000) and sociocultural psychology with a semiotic focus (Zittoun, 2006). This paper examines identity processes through the case of Tania and her radio feature story entitled “Teen Views of Sex.” Analysis of the production process and content, supported by interviews and other ethnographic data, illustrates significant identity work in relation to the community. Work on the feature story led to a transformation in Tania’s relationship to herself, as well as to others, to discourses and practices and to objects of knowledge. These identity relocations became real through the acknowledgment of others in the class through public critiques, public showcases, and the media when KGNU selected their feature story for broadcast. The identity shifts discussed in the paper reveal participatory processes that allowed her to express, and importantly, to be acknowledged by others for core values that were consonant with her home community, creating continuity among spheres of experience among home and the program and, by association, school.