An Autobiographical Narrative Inquiry Into the Experiences of a Vietnamese Mother: Living Alongside Children in Transition to Canada

Hang Thi Thuy Tran


Since my family came to Canada, family story nights have become our daily practice. Within such moments, I explore how I, as a mother, have been sustaining the Vietnamese language and traditions in my family and how, when transitioning to a new land, this has become the core of our familiar curriculum making (Huber, Murphy, & Clandinin, 2011). As I share Vietnamese stories with my children, they reply to me in English. Also, they only have a distant understanding of Vietnamese culture and the intergenerational traditions of our great family back home. Acknowledging these transitional processes allows me to nurture their love and understanding of Vietnamese language, culture and traditions. As I inquire into my own experiences as a mother, I trace my ancestral heritage in my homeland, where, in Thúy’s (2012) words, “a country is no longer a place but a lullaby.” Meaningfully, the following questions have shaped my research puzzles: (a) What are possible ways to build our familial curriculum in integration with our homeland language, culture, and traditions; and (b) How could I as a mother sustain these three essential areas in my children’s lives in Canada? I embrace autobiographical narrative inquiry as the methodology for my paper. Narrative inquiry draws attention to story as both the phenomenon under study and narrative as the methodology for the inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994). I will be living, telling, retelling, and reliving (Clandinin, 2013) my storied experiences and my children’s in our familial curriculum making through cooking, reading, and painting. By attending to my daughters’ experiences, I inquire into their transitions differently, that is to understand their own transitions narratively (Clandinin, Steeves & Caine, 2013). Significantly, this paper will bring understandings on Vietnamese newcomer mother’s and children’s familial curriculum making as a way to sustain the homeland’s language, culture, and traditions and to support the children in their transition to a new country as well as inform related realities, knowledges, and approaches in education.

Keywords: experience; transition; curriculum making; language; culture; traditions


familial curriculum making; tradition; culture; narrative inquiry

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