Overly critical of ‘different’?

I am so glad that I ain’t the only one who had an issue with plagiarism in America. And I am exceedingly glad that Kinchloe is American. I vividly recollect the expression on a teaching assistant’s face in my first semester here as a Master’s student. She was trying to tell me that the essay she had reviewed was too good to be something I could come up with on my own. She told me that plagiarism was a serious offense in America and that she was doing me a favor by giving me half the marks for that work and to make this my final plagiarized work before she reports me. I just looked at her, unable to find meaning in what she had said and too surprised to form words to respond.

I had only just come to the country and I was trying to build my ego up after realizing that being the best student in my English class does not necessarily mean that Americans will hear me when I speak. I had become a shell of my usual chirpy self and couldn’t participate in class discussions. To me, that meant, I would have to do my assignments well which included making sure my essays were on point. So imagine my shock when the teaching assistant thought me incapable of writing that essay. Hey, did I say I was the best English student in my class?

This brings me to Kinchloe’s inference to Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital. I definitely identify with this sentence ‘In the same way that money is a form of “economic capital,” membership in the dominant culture affords individuals ways of knowing, acting, and being (cultural capital) that can be “cashed in” in order to get ahead in the lived world.’ When I was in my country, I will usually be the first to raise my hands to share my opinions. I don’t know whether this changed as I became older or it is because I am uncomfortable to share my opinion here in an accent. The former might be so if I behaved in a similar way when I go to my country but I don’t. I actually talk more then and act vastly different from when I am here. Not fully understanding the codes of the dominant cultural capital, definitely has an effect on how I talk and act here.

As teachers, I think it is important to key in on those that might be marginalized in any way, and try to be inclusive of them in the classroom. If care is not taken, this might lead to picking on these students. So, it takes considerable effort and creative thinking to do that. I hope I am able to achieve that feat with time.