Modernity and globalization have modified how children and the concept of childhood is viewed in society – that is children and youth that once contributed to “household economies” are now viewed as financially invaluable (Zelsier, 1995, cited in Orellana, 2009, p. 17). However, Orellana’s (2009) work Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language, and Culture, and Fong’s (2004) study Only Hope: Coming of Age under China’s One-Child Policy, challenge the normative views of the Western world by presenting the stories of children that may not have the typical childhood that most children are perceived to have, such as relaxing and playing with friends endlessly. The participants in the researcher’s works have bigger responsibilities they must tend to, such as translating for parents – being language brokers as Orellana labels the children’s work – and making sure they are well prepared to attain success later in their adult lives. The research presented touches on the impact that globalization has had on these children’s lives and upbringings, contributions youth offer society and how their familial relationships should not be viewed negatively by the dominant First World nations.
Orellana (2009) and Fong’s (2004) research helps cement that children can be of help in their young developmental years. Most of the participants in Orellana’s study noted that they were happy to help in brokering services between their parents, neighbors and the outside world. The children and youth used descriptors such as “like to help,” “feeling great,” and “it’s cool because you know things that other [children or youth] don’t” reveals the enjoyment the participants felt when serving as translators (p. 62-63).
In addition, they can be seen as language mediators between their parents and the community and world surrounding them. Parents are very joyous and proud of their children’s work. Only rarely do they become frustrated that their child is unable to help out, as noted in Ms. Gutierrez’s statement when informing Orellana that María “did not want to help out” (p. 59). In this case the parent could not grasp that the translating task was too confusing for the child. To María’s defense, other children also had doubts about their comprehension and interpretation skills (p.58-59). This shows that these children face great pressure to comprehend a language that in many ways is foreign to them. The pressure is two-fold, in that they do not want to disappoint their parents by helping them negotiate and communicate with others but also that they need to understand what words mean – given that the language used by the institutions communicating with their parents is advanced for children their age.
Fong’s research gives the reader appreciation to what Chinese youth become pressured to do. These children are to become entrepreneurs and business-people that China needs in order to become a first-world economy. Singletons’ parents cannot directly relate to what their...