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TitleExamining the Role of Refugee Students' Personal Narratives in the High School Classroom
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                            Jima, Bareshna, and Francis live their lives as “travelers.” They traveled from one country to another, fleeing unrest in their homeland in search of safety and freedom, making occasional stops on the trip but always just passing through. On their travels, a particular purpose and arriving at a destination were more important than sightseeing along the way. Since they started high school here, they continue on as travelers, with their destination being the goal of completing high school. The saying: “Life’s a journey, not a destination” (Tyler, n.d.) does not apply to them. The tensions expressed in their narratives seem to override any sense of wonder or adventure they might enjoy along their travels through high school. They reside in the “closed country” at school, and when they are required to spend time in those “unsafe” places, places such as classes where they are not attended to or expected to “fit” in, they view these places as obligatory stops along the way, ones they prefer not to revisit.
I knew Jima’s, Bareshna’s, and Francis’ experiences were far different from those of my own three children when they were teenagers in high school and from those of many other students whom I worked with over the years. A significant disparity between their experiences is revealed in the participants’ narratives of lives lived without the advantage of choice. They and their families were forced from their homes in their native lands and are left without hope of ever returning to them. Because of the urgency of finding safe places to live, they had no say in choosing their country of refuge. Since arriving here, the demands of their lives again limit their opportunity to make choices both on and off the high school landscape. Their voices tell of lives consumed with adult responsibilities: working nearly full-time; caring for children, parents and siblings; and managing households. Noticeable in their narratives is the absence of significant experiences with the “mundane rituals of daily living” (Fine, Weis, Weseen & Wong, 2000, p. 118) characteristic of many of their high school peers.
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In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of

Education Degree from the University of Saskatchewan, I agree that the libraries of this

university may make it freely available for inspection. I further agree that permission for

copying of this thesis in any manner, in whole or in part, for scholarly purposes may be

granted by the professor or professors who supervised my thesis work or, in their

absence, by the Head of the Department or the Dean of the College in which my thesis

work was done. It is understood that any copying of publication or use of this thesis or

parts thereof for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. It is

also understood that due recognition shall be given to me and to the University of

Saskatchewan in any use which may be made of any material in my thesis.

Requests for permission to copy or make other use of material in this thesis in

whole or part should be addressed to:

Head of the Department of Curriculum Studies

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0X1


Page 93


Tensions in the Narrative Inquiry Process

Reminiscing about the black and white postcard from my childhood helped me to

think in different ways about Laura’s voice reverberating in my head as I walked through

the halls at university and into the library this morning. Fine and Weis (2003) would see

these reverberations as “the persistent and uninterrupted echoes of damaging voices of

privilege” that are part of the greater “systemic silencing … that dominate and ‘other’”

(p. 7). I recognized my bias with the students because of my emotional engagement with

them, but I realized I had not always felt this way. I wondered if the-Lauras-of-the-world

were given the opportunity to hear the students’ genuine voices, would they feel more

connected to them? Would they come to understand how war has irrevocably changed

their lives and created shifts and fractures in the stories they live by? (Clandinin &

Connelly, 1999).

Her comments deepened my feelings around the tensions in the narrative inquiry

process Clandinin & Connelly (2000) write about, as I pondered how to unpack the

students’ stories to make their identities visible and their voices audible, and struggled

with how to turn the stories they live by (Clandinin & Connelly, 1999) into research

texts. Clandinin & Connelly (2000) describe this “tension-filled time”:

There is, on the one hand, tension associated with leaving the field and wondering

what to do with masses of field texts. There is, on the other hand, tension as we

consider our audience and whether or not, or in what way, our texts might speak

to our readers. There is tension as we turn inward to think about issues of voice

and about whether we can capture and represent the shared stories of ourselves


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