April 2021 Spotlight, Peggy A. Kong, Ed.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Peggy A. Kong (pak72@drexel.edu) as our member in the spotlight. Peggy is currently a visiting scholar in the School of Education at Drexel University. Investigating the roots of inequity for children and families is at the heart of her work. Drawing from sociological theories, she examines the mechanisms that contribute to and sustain educational disadvantage of rural residents, ethnic minorities, immigrants and people of color. She uses rich ethnographic research, policy analysis, and longitudinal survey data to investigate the challenges facing children and families from marginalized backgrounds, and pays particular attention to how education policies, societal structures, and historical contexts shape their experiences. She grounds her work in critical and interpretivist frameworks to promote social justice and equity by amplifying the voices of children and families from marginalized backgrounds. 

1)What drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field?

My work with Asians and Asian American families is motivated by a combination of my own experiences as a second generation Chinese American and as a researcher in rural China and the United States. While in graduate school, the way the literature described parental behaviors and student outcomes did not reflect my own reality as a student of immigrant and refugee parents. While I was a graduate research assistant on the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF), rural residents in China were described as being very traditional and less supportive of educating their children. Contrary to prior research, the rural families and children I met on research trips were very supportive of educating their children. Much of my research has focused on understanding and elevating the voices and reality of rural parents in China.

A few years ago, a local nonprofit reached out to me to better understand why immigrant parents, Asian and Latinx, were less engaged and seemed less supportive of their children’s schooling. This is when my work took a more transnational focus as I learned that many immigrant families utilized migration as a path for social mobility, similar to rural parents in China. However, the local schools and communities had little understanding about the depths of the sacrifices these parents made nor the strategies parents engaged to provide their children with better educational opportunities. This work has really made me think about the sacrifices and immigration experiences of my own family. My work has been social justice focused and rooted in understanding and amplifying the voices of individuals who have limited access to power and privilege and who have experienced inequity in schools and society.

2) A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it. 

I am excited to share two recent findings from a collaborative study on Asians/Asian Americans during COVID-19. The project has two parts, a photovoice project focused on understanding how Asian and Asian American families experienced the compression of the school and community spaces into their homes during COVID-19. The second part is focused on understanding racial discrimination of Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from the project highlight how the myth of the model minority and perpetual foreigner stereotype impact Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another finding is that Asians and Asian Americans are now more concerned about racial discrimination and feel the urgent need to have family conversations about race, discrimination, and a deeper understanding of Asian American history. However, many parents feel unprepared to facilitate these family conversations.

3) Any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area? 

I have been very fortunate to have great mentors and scholars inside and outside my field. I have reached out to senior scholars throughout my career to discuss common research topics, teaching, and professional service. Their experiences have helped me expand my research and navigate academic life. I would highly recommend that new scholars reach out to scholars in their field, even if they have never met them. It might not always work out, but don’t be afraid to connect.

4) Any recent and upcoming talks or presentations?

  • At SRCD2021 (April 7-9, 2021), I presented a poster entitled From “Have you eaten” to “How are you”: Understanding the daily lived experiences of Asians in America during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference (April 8-12, 2021), I presented at a roundtable paper entitled, “Moving from behind the curtain”: What it meant to be an immigrant Chinese parent navigating kindergarten transition for their children
  • At the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) national conference (April 25-May 2), I will be part of a book launch panel for an edited book Rural Education in China’s Social Transition, presenting a paper on rural parents in China, and contributing to papers on Asians and parenting during COVID-19 and how Chinese immigrant parents prepare their young children for kindergarten readiness.

5) A Weblink you recommended?

peggyakong.com

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