A Lesson in America’s Rich History of Immigration

By Kathy Mimberg, Media Relations Manager, NCLR

Immigration FamiliesHappy Thanksgiving, America!

As we reflect this week on the things for which we are thankful, I think of the terrific teachers at my son’s public school who have strengthened his understanding of our nation’s history as a community of immigrants.  Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in a yearly event that his Social Studies teachers developed that truly brings America’s “salad bowl” history to life for their students, who represent a diverse mix of race, ethnicity, religion and family income levels.

After weeks of investigating where turn-of-the-century migrants came from and why they left their home countries to start a new life far from everything that was familiar, the students had chosen their roles and were ready for “Ellis Island Day.”  They adopted new names, researched and wrote narratives, and memorized details of background, family, and religion in order to answer questions from immigration agents and gain U.S. citizenship.  Their work culminated in a full school day devoted to the Ellis Island experience, during which teachers and parent volunteers acted as agents, doctors, and judges who reviewed their documents, assessed each immigrant’s case, and decided whether to approve or deny citizenship applications. Continue reading