This presentation explores the tensions and conflicting perspectives of 20 community leaders, five youth mentees, and three mentors living in a predominantly Latinx and conservative rural California town. Their testimonies describe the sociopolitical changes they have witnessed since the 2016 election including local reactions to national ICE raids, deportation threats, drops in school and community event attendance, and looming “Make California Great Again” billboards now edging the corners of fields where many undocumented farmworkers live and labor. As an act of resilience (Yosso, 2005), five youth discuss their stories of cultivating informal mentorships with older members of their family or individuals filling a familial role. These relationships encouraged mentees to openly challenge issues of racism, colorism, and poverty, and their correlations with a lack of basic youth resources in their town. By purposefully situating this study in a rural area, I aimed to challenge the dominant narrative around formal mentoring programs and their recorded impact to show that informal and naturally-occurring mentorships (Timpe & Lunkenheimer, 2015) cultivated by youth are also impactful. These relationships possess a unique potential to educate and guide teachers and administrators to work alongside their community members and embrace forms of cultural wealth which benefit their students. The objective of this presentation is to collaboratively explore additional ways we, as IAFOR members and educators, can continue to encourage and nurture informal mentorships as acts of resilience and social justice in order to embrace community and extend the limits of our formal schooling potential.
Robin Brandehoff, University of Colorado Denver, United States
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