Daina Sanchez, graduate student in anthropology, has reason to celebrate this summer: her dissertation examining the cultural adaptation techniques among immigrant children has earned her the National Science Foundation Fellowship Award, which will fund 18 months of her research.

Specifically focusing on children whose families hail from San Andres Solaga in Oaxaca, Mexico—her parents’ hometown—Sanchez’ dissertation grew from her undergraduate research at the University of San Diego.

“Upon entering the anthropology program at UCI, I shifted my focus from studying first-generation immigrants to studying the children of these immigrants,” Sanchez says. “I shifted my attention because, although academics have focused on the children of immigrants, less attention has been given to the experience of the growing number of indigenous immigrants and their children in the U.S. who may represent a different pattern.”

With the fellowship funds, Sanchez plans to conduct ethnographic research in both Los Angeles and Solaga over a 12-month period. She hopes to determine the role that religious and cultural practices play in shaping these children’s identities, as well as how certain practices and activities affect their notions of belonging—both in the U.S. and in their parent’s home communities.

“I'm particularly interested in this question because pundits that discourage practices that keep the children of immigrants connected to their home country argue that it prevents their assimilation into the American mainstream,” she explains.

To gather data, Sanchez will conduct participant interviews and observation at three sites: various band and dance practices in Los Angeles, a patron saint celebration in Los Angeles, and the Virgen del Carmen celebration in Solaga.

Sanchez will receive $25,200 from the NSF fellowship with a project period lasting through December 2016.

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