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[xmca] Refugees and Conception

I am responding here to Denise's note about her work with refugee women. I
have started a new
thread because her message came trailing a mile of previous messages (we
need to find some way
to not include every previous message with a new one; its a special burden
when we get very long threads and the archive has all the prior messages in
a thread anyway).

Denise wrote (in part):

I (one of my hats) work with refugee mothers and the concept
of "foreign mothers" for the local population. I ran a CL [Change
with a group that is working on integrating refugee mothers so that their
children can perform
better at school. The subjects of this CL had relatively little or no
knowledge of what happens in foreign mothers lives or world on a daily
basis. This I attempted to introduce through mirror data and models etc.
What remains as a question is to me is if these persons minds where
constructed within their environment and they are relatively isolated within
their new environment what kind of mind is there? The question that you put
forward at the end of the video is of great interest to me and an important
argument for involuntary displaced adults.
Your note raises dozens of questions for me, Denise.
First of all, I would love to read a description of your Change Lab
experiments. The first
question your note brings up is "who initiated the intervention?" A central
principle of
the Development Work Research Change Lab methodology, as I understand it, is
focal participants are the ones to decide what is a problem in their lives
(at work in the work that
I have read). Are the moms the one's who are concerned about their kids'
performance in school?
Or is this some govt agency's concern?

If it is the mom's concern, what is revealed about the history and current
state of their problems as they
see them in the mirror?

What sort of intermediate solutions do they come up with?
Is it difficult for them to use the theoretical model?

I think that just starting with data generated by the conversations that are
meant to be evoked by the
mirror part of the methodology would reveal a lot about how these women
think about the world. Anyway, I would start there (and for sure would give
them Vygotsky blocks to find out how their minds work!).

I understand what you mean, in common sense terms, by saying that they lead
isolated lives here. But it is not literally true, is it? From the little i
know about domestic refugee situations, the world around them impinges on
them from every side. For example, in the book
*The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American
Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures *by Anne Fadiman, the Hmong
people who are her subject matter could easily be said to live in isolation
from the life around them in the Central Valley of California, but it is an
odd sort of isolation as they struggle to reconcile the two worlds they have
experienced. And its odd for those around them who seek to be helpful. And
many around them are actively seeking to isolate them even as they seek to
isolate themselves from "those alien creatures."At present I am working in
an African American community which is, so to speak, isolated in a housing
project in southeast san diego. After a few years of involvement with these
folks, the main thing i have learned is that there is so much I do not
understand that I am constantly suspending judgment and seeking deeper
understanding by engaging with them in activities that they think are good
for their kids, all the time trying to understand the discrepancies from my
expectations/values, the choices they make, their selective appropriation of
the advice that rains down on them, and so on.

I am really interested in the problem you raise, but I almost certainly have
little to contribute with so little knowledge of the particulars.
Tell us more!
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