Resettled Burmese Refugee Youths' Identity Work in an Afterschool STEM Learning Setting
Youth from non-dominant racial and linguistic backgrounds often have limited access to school science learning opportunities. Afterschool settings may provide learning environments in which they improve science knowledge and construct positive science identities. With this premise, our research team designs and provides a community-based afterschool program that engages resettled Burmese refugee youth in STEM learning. In this paper, we seek to understand how refugee youth utilize their funds of knowledge and what identities were foregrounded in the program. We adapt a micro-ethnographic perspective in our research and review video recordings of participants’ engagement through multimodal discourse analysis. Our analysis suggests that youth crafted creative ways to participate in the science discourse such as: 1) blending joking and laughter with science discourse to negotiate their identities with each other and with an otherwise intimidating discourse, 2) utilizing place-based ethnic practices and knowledge in participating in science discourses, and 3) coordinating turn-taking and responding to others’ ideas that makes the learning environment safe and inviting to all. We discuss insights that can potentially advance our understanding of refugee youth identities and transform our ways of supporting their science learning.