Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Melissa Sherfinski

Committee Member

Sharon Hayes

Committee Member

Jessica Troilo

Committee Member

Denise Lindstrom


Transracially adopted Asian children in rural Appalachia find themselves adopted into places where there is little or no racial and ethnic diversity. In this context, it may be difficult to transgress the model minority stereotype and systemic racism in schools and the community. There are particular issues and concerns related to racial identity for TRAAs that may make the task of becoming fully integrated members of the community challenging. Building on the literature on transracial and transnational adoption, this study aims to better understand the lives and perspectives of two transracially adopted Asian (TRAA) girls living in rural Appalachia and how they are constructed and positioned in their families and their education community. In order to receive a clearer picture of these students, two research questions were posed:

°How do transracially adopted Asian (TRAA) youth see themselves within the

contexts they negotiate in rural Appalachia?

°How do teachers and administrators position TRAAs?

A case study was conducted and the data analyzed using third space theory and additional critical and sociological theories of identity and agency such as funds of knowledge and border pedagogies. Participants included the girls, their parents, their school administrators, and many teachers at their schools (total n=23 participants). Data were collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observations. A traditional case study analysis using coding and memoing was completed.

Analysis of the information revealed five major challenges for the students in schools that served nearly all White students yet were growing in cultural and linguistic talents and racial/ethnic diversity: (1) Assuming assimilation, (2) deflecting race talk, (3) exoticizing particular differences, (4) minimizing bullying, and (5) positioning teachers and administrators in schools. The challenges supported school and community homogeneity instead of heterogeneity, which transferred to how TRAAs saw themselves in the context of rural Appalachia in complicated ways.

The dissertation concludes by considering positive curricular and pedagogical supports for rural and Appalachian communities. These supports are necessary to co-construct third spaces of understanding in communities to support TRAAs and all students.