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A narrative inquiry into cultural identity construction of young Korean Canadians : "my cultural identity is a production I create from different cultural pieces" Park, Minjeong


This study investigates how young Korean Canadians construct and re-construct their cultural identity through cross-cultural experiences as they interact with and negotiate cultural differences. My interest in this study was triggered by conversations with some young Korean Canadians. Prior to these conversations, I assumed that they would be more Canadian than Korean in terms of culture. It was a surprise to learn that they were becoming more interested in Korean culture as they grew up and gained a sense of their identity as Korean Canadian. I was especially surprised when I considered their having grown up in Canadian contexts where they speak English fluently and are exposed to Canadian culture most of the time. In this study, I conducted a narrative inquiry which enabled me to uncover unrecognized and unspoken experiences associated with the cross-cultural experiences of young Korean Canadians and understand identity construction as a temporally and relationally multilayered process. The analysis presented in this study was drawn from twenty-six openended interviews with young Korean Canadians living in Vancouver, British Columbia. My findings showed that the young Korean Canadians were not indefinitely torn between cultures nor did they remain victims of unending identity crisis, although during the initial stage of adaptation, they went through uncertainties, tensions, and anxieties about not being wholly one identity or the other. While crossing cultural boundaries and re-configuring different cultures from inside-out and outside-in perspectives, they became more able to assess which elements of each culture they wanted to embrace in their own identity construction. As they transformed their approach from "fitting in one place" to "mixing and matching different cultural elements," they were awakened to the possibilities of having a multicultural identity. Identifying multiple cultural elements, they re-constructed their own emergent form of identity beyond the limited boundary of Korean culture or Canadian culture. This study invites educators to revision cultural identity of immigrants, fabricated by crosscultural living, as productive tensions and generative possibilities rather than problems to be adjusted and resolved.

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