I'm bien pocha: transnational teachers of English in Mexico

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Petron, Mary A.

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Mexican officials of the Secretaría de Educación Pública of Nuevo León assert that approximately 95 percent of English teachers working in public schools outside of the Monterrey metropolitan area learned their English as children of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. While much has been written on the effects of Mexican immigration in the U.S., little exists regarding the ways in which transnationals, who have returned to Mexico, have adapted to and/or transformed Mexican society and the education system. The purpose of this dissertation is to describe the phenomenon of transnationalism as it presented itself and continues to unfold in the lives of five transnational individuals currently employed as English teachers in rural Nuevo Leon. This dissertation is a qualitative, descriptive, multiple case study that utilizes ethnographic methods. The primary data consists of in-depth interviews, participant observations in homes and classrooms, and analysis of written artifacts such as school records of the five transnational participants. Although the focus is on these five participants, the voices of their parents, siblings, and Mexican education officials are interwoven. Analysis indicates that these individuals have painful memories of their transitions between U.S. and Mexican schooling contexts due to acculturation/assimilation processes. They provide insight into issues of race as they manifest themselves in the U.S. educational system, and issues of class as they play out in the educational system of Mexico. As adults, these transnational teachers have been extremely successful at trading the cultural capital they acquired in the U.S. for their own gain in Mexico. At the same time, they maintain the values of their immigrant parents nurtured by the transnational experience which have also served them well. As a whole, these transnational individuals have developed a borderlands consciousness which they seek to pass on to their own students and children. This study fills a gap in the research literature on transnationalism by exploring the phenomenon from the Mexican side of the border. This study highlights the shifting multiple frames of reference of transnationals and thus includes implications for theory and research as well as for educators working with Mexican origin youth in the U.S.