The focus of this article is the experiences of three undergraduate students who engaged in a participatory action research (PAR) project with a group of preadolescent Latina girls attending a public school in Boston, MA, USA. The aim of the 2-year project was to explore how the girls constructed knowledge about girlhood and other gender-related issues.
In this article, I (Alice) briefly describe the PAR project. The remaining sections focus on the research team's reflections. Julieta, a native of Romania, discusses how her life experiences growing up in Romania during the Communist regime helped her to identify with some of the girls’ life experiences. Anastasia, who was born and raised in Greece, describes how dialogue, a basic tenet of PAR, assisted her in developing collaborative relationships of trust with the research participants.
In the third section, Nikos, who is also a native of Greece, describes how participating in a collaborative process with a group of girls from a dramatically different background than his own challenged him to reflect on his maleness, his ethnic beliefs, and his assumptions about public education in the US. The last section states the importance of teacher educators pursuing PAR-type experiences with college-aged students.
The team's reflections offer insights into how engaging in participatory experiences with school-aged students can provide rich, informative, and effective opportunities for non-United Statesian students to gain a better understanding of the many issues related to public education in the US.