Negotiating the “Ideal Immigrant:” A Microanalysis of Email Exchanges Between a Latina Adult and Newcomer Student.
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This paper provides analysis of a series of email correspondences between a secondary newcomer Latina and a Latina business professional within the same urban community. It chronicles an attempt to sidestep the limits of school-based discourses via email and put a student in direct contact with a mature, successful practitioner of English. After an initial, highly stylized message from the mentor is met with a much more basic written response from the student, the mentor drastically reduces her output. This withdrawal allows the student space to exercise her own identity as a mexicana with aspirations rooted in familiar cultural spaces. In constructing these responses, the student relies consistently on appropriation of the mentor’s language, yet shifts that language in ways that continue to affirm her sociocultural identity and educational project. Paradoxically, these expressions of voice and agency draw the mentor back into conversation, and a tentative dialogue is mutually constructed.