Songs Gone Unheard: Complicating the Myth of Korean Immigrant Experiences Through the Examination of a Children’s Community Chorus
By: Hae Min Yu
Published: 2014
Uploaded: 01/11/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2014 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: community, Identity, immigrant families, Korean, music, Young Children

Description/Abstract: Despite the large number of Korean immigrants in the US, this group is still underrepresented in educational research. Many times, they are subsumed under the label of Asian immigrants, yet the lack of research on Korean immigrant families and their culture is problematic since it may lead the general public and educators to develop stereotypes about Korean immigrants, essentializing their experiences. In a situated way, this study aimed to complicate the myth of Korean immigrant experiences through an examination of a community-based musical experience. Specifically, this qualitative.
Interview study sought to understand how this musical group experience affected the beliefs and practices of four Korean immigrant families who participated in the chorus in New Jersey, paying specific attention to the ways in which sociocultural factors shaped their perceptions and experiences.
Findings indicate that these Korean immigrant families exhibited complex and contextualized experiences in the chorus. Yet, a commitment to music and Christian religious beliefs were commonalities in the experiences of all of the families. The families indicated that the chorus provided the children an authentic environment so that they could develop and/or maintain their own heritage language and culture as well as a positive Korean/Korean American identity. Within the context of the chorus, the parents were satisfied with its Christianity-based messages and collectivistic culture. Yet, they expressed strong resistance against certain stereotypical attributes of their ethnic group, such as competition and placing academics above all other experiences, and set themselves apart from other Korean immigrants, whom they labeled "Typical Korean."
Findings suggest that educators can benefit from paying attention to the specific practices in which Korean immigrant families engage. Doing so will likely allow educators to complicate any myths shaping their own understandings of Korean immigrant families, and to gain insights into the misalignments these families face living as immigrants in the US. Implications of this study point toward the need for educators to pay close attention to the experiences of specific families within specific immigrant groups, learning from their funds of knowledge. Doing so can help educators create more
supportive classroom environments, and to develop more culturally relevant pedagogies.