Rebeca Mejía Aráuz
We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latino youth and families? Who was an important mentor to you in this work? What tips do you have for someone starting out?
I studied learning and development in México for many years before pursuing a Ph.D. in California. While working on my research project with Mexican descent children and families in the US, I became aware of cultural variation and characteristics of these Mexican and other populations that I was not able to recognize while I was in Mexico. Later, when I came back to Mexico, conducting research with Mexican kids in US and Mexican kids living in Mexico opened a fascinating perspective on how cultural context allows both changes and traditions as part of life trajectories in migrant and non-migrant populations.
Dr. Barbara Rogoff, my Ph.D. advisor, introduced me to a whole new way of understanding cultural diversity, and how the social organization of learning and living in communities is crucial in children´s and families’ development. I have been very fortunate to continue collaborating with her in research on Learning by Observing and Pitching in Community and Family endeavors for many years.
We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.
I have conducted studies with other colleagues such as Mary Correa-Chavez, Ulrike Keyser, Amy Dexter, and with Barbara Rogoff, where we observed what we call non-verbal conversation—a sophisticated way of communication that could not be described only as non-verbal gestures. Nonverbal conversation involves a series of exchanges that require keen attention and that often occur when there is an intention of helping others (acomedirse) who are having some trouble in performing or achieving a task. We found that Mexican indigenous children are particularly skillful in this kind of sophisticated way of collaborative interaction. This research regarding children’s collaboration at home with their family and in their communities is an essential discovery because collaboration is central to the preservation of society. This line of research and results from this and other colleagues’ contributions can be found in Children learn by observing and contributing to family and community endeavors: A cultural paradigm.
Currently I am conducting research on Mexican families’ everyday life organization in urban contexts and how their styles of life may have an impact on middle childhood development. This research derived from research contrasting the social organization of indigenous families in a rural town and families in an urban context that was mentioned above. A publication of a book on this research is in process.
Reflections on Latino Caucus Experiences
Finally, we asked about experiences with the SRCD Latino Caucus: Why is the caucus important and/or your views on the role of the Latino Caucus vis-à-vis SRCD, research on child development, policy/practice.
I recently rejoined the Latino Caucus and I’m excited to be involved again. The Latino Caucus helped me connect with other scholars doing work with similar populations. As a Ph.D. student, I found the events helped me connect with other Latino researchers in my field.