“That’s How We Roll”: A Case Study of a Recently Arrived Refugee Student in an Urban High School

Abstract

This critical case study of one, Somali Bantu male high school student illuminates the struggle for recently arrived refugees at the high school level. Few educational research studies describe how recently arrived refugee students and their families make their transition to US schools (Ngo et al. in Hmong Stud J 8:1–35, 2007; Hones and Cha in Educating new Americans: immigrant lives and learning. Erlbaum, Mahwah, 1999; Igoa in The inner world of the immigrant child. Erlbaum, Mahwah, 1995). Studies that examine how race, county of origin, and low socio-economic status affect refugee students also are few in number. Specifically Kamya (Soc Work 42:154–165, 1997) argues that there is a compelling need for research that investigates how racism and stereotypes of Black Americans affect the experiences of African black immigrants and refugees. Rong and Brown (Educ Urban Soc 2:247–273, 2002) add that black newcomers students often face a triple disadvantage of being black, having limited access to educational opportunity, and being poor. These challenges are particularly relevant for high school students as they have a limited amount of time to acquire proficiency in English and content area knowledge before transitioning to post-secondary education or the work force. In order to better understand how some of these processes work for a recently arrived refugee student in an urban school district, this paper examines the educational adaptation and coping strategies of one Somali Bantu male high school student and his family to the US public school system during the 2007–2008 school year through the lens of intersectionality.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    All place and school names are pseudonyms.

References

  1. Berg, B. (1995). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cummins, J. (1986). Empowering language minority students: A framework for intervention. Harvard Educational Review, 56(1), 18–36.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cummins, J. (1995). Underachievement among minority students. In D. Durkin (Ed.), Language issues: Readings for teachers (pp. 130–159). White Plains, NY: Longman.

    Google Scholar 

  6. De Jong, E., & Harper, C. (2005). Preparing mainstream teachers for English language learners: Is being a good teacher good enough? Teacher Education Quarterly, 32(2), 101–124.

    Google Scholar 

  7. DeCapua, A., Smathers, W., & Tang, L. (2007). Schooling interrupted. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 40–46.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Emerson, R., Fretz, R., & Shaw, L. (1995). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Esposito, S., & Favela, A. (2003). Reflective voices: Valuing immigrant students and teaching with ideological clarity. The Urban Review, 35(1), 73–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Fillmore, L., & Snow, C. (2002). What teachers need to know about language. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse of Languages and Linguistics.

    Google Scholar 

  11. French, D., & Conrad, J. (2001). School dropout as predicted by peer rejection and antisocial behavior. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 225–244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gibson, M. (1988). Accommodation without assimilation: Sikh immigrants in an American high school. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Gitlin, A., Buendia, E., Crosland, K., & Doumbia, F. (2003). The production of margin and center: Welcoming-unwelcoming of immigrant students. American Educational Research Journal, 40(1), 91–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Aldine.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Guerrero, M. (2004). Acquiring academic English in one year: An unlikely proposition for English language learners. Urban Education Journal, 39(2), 172–199.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hancock, A. M. (2007). When multiplication doesn’t equal quick addition: Examining inersectionality as a research paradigm. Perspectives on Politics, 5(1), 63–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hones, D., & Cha, S. (1999). Educating new Americans: Immigrant lives and learning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Igoa, C. (1995). The inner world of the immigrant child. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kamya, H. A. (1997). African immigrants in the United States: The challenge for research and practice. Social Work, 42, 154–165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kirova, A. (2001). Loneliness in immigrant children: Implications for classroom practice. Childhood Education, 77(5), 260–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Lee, S. (1996). Unraveling the “model minority” stereotype: Listening to Asian American youth. New York: Teachers College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Lee, S. (2005). Up against whiteness: Race, school, and immigrant youth. New York: Teachers College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Lucas, T. (1996). Into, through, and beyond secondary schools: Critical transitions for immigrant youths. Washington, DC: Delta Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. McCall, L. (2005). The Complexity of intersectionality. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30(31), 1771–800.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Ngo, B., Bigelow, M., & Walhstrom, K. (2007). The transition of Wat Tham Krabok Hmong children to Saint Paul public schools: Perspectives of teachers, principals, and Hmong parents. Hmong Studies Journal, 8:1–35. Retrieved June 11, 2008, from http://hmongstudies.org/NgoBigelowWahlstromHSJ8.pdf.

  27. Olsen, L. (2000). Learning English and learning America: Immigrants in the eyes of a storm. Theory Into Practice, 39, 196–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Ong, A. (2003). Buddha in hiding: Refugees, citizenship, and the new America. Public Anthropology Series: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Rong, X., & Brown, F. (2002). Socialization, culture, and identities of black immigrant children: What educators need to know and do. Education and Urban Society, 2, 247–273.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Rong, X., & Preissle, J. (1998). Educating immigrant students: What we need to know to meet the challenge. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Seidman, I. (2006). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Singer, A. (2004). The rise of new immigrant gateways. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Spradley, J. (1980). Participant observation. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Suarez-Orozco, M. (1989). Central American refugees and US high schools: A psychosocial study of motivation and achievement. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Suarez-Orozco, C. (2000). Identities under siege: Immigration stress and social mirroring among the children of immigrants. In A. Robben & M. Suarez- Orozco (Eds.), Cultures under siege: Collective violence and trauma (pp. 194–226). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Trueba, H., Jacobs, L., & Kirton, E. (1990). Cultural conflict and adaptation: The case of Hmong children in American society. New York: Falmer Press.

    Google Scholar 

  37. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2002). America, here we come: the Somali Bantu. Refugees Magazine, 128(3), 3–31.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Valdes, G. (1998). The world inside and outside of schools: Language and immigrant children. Educational Researcher, 27(6), 4–18.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Varenne, H., & McDermott, R. (1998). Successful failure: The school America builds. Boulder, CO: Westview.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Verdugo, R., & Flores, B. (2007). English-language learners: Key issues. Education and Urban Society, 39(2), 167–193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Volkan, D. (1993). Immigration and refugees: A psychodynamic perspective. Mind and Human Interaction, 4(2), 63–69.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Waters, M. (1999). Black identities: West Indian immigrant dreams and American realities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Westernmeyer, J., & Wahmanholm, K. (1996). Refugee children. In R. Apfel & B. Simon (Eds.), Minefields in their hearts: The mental health of children in war and communal violence (pp. 75–103). New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin Roxas.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Roxas, K., Roy, L. “That’s How We Roll”: A Case Study of a Recently Arrived Refugee Student in an Urban High School. Urban Rev 44, 468–486 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-012-0203-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Education of refugee students
  • Contexts of reception
  • Immigrants and immigration
  • Urban education
  • Secondary education