Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Immigrant Feelings Project

(Wurtsboro, New York) Fifth-graders at Chase Elementary School have been indoctrinated in an immigrant feelings project. Teachers Marilyn Lounsbury, Karen Crofoot and Dorrie Lounsbury were faculty participants.
Students put together their "baggage," which included an autobiography and a letter of reference for their person to come into the U.S. They gave themselves pseudonyms. Students were to talk with their families about their family heritage and also to do research on their country of origin. They were to place artifacts, recipes, facts, the national flag, a map and other interesting things about their heritage and country in a shoebox as their suitcases. Students were given passports and asked to dress as immigrants for their Ellis Island experience.

When they arrived at Ellis Island, they went through a background information check station with Lea Walters and Marilyn Lounsbury where they were to present their important paperwork. They went through a vocation station with literacy coach Ann Kurthy, checking information about their job skills and plans for potential employment. Dorrie Lounsbury put them through the Character Station, where they were interrogated with such questions as "Were you ever arrested? Are you in debt? Did you leave sick relatives at home?"

Students had to be cleared by nurse Pam Shimer. They had their temperatures taken (with candy cane thermometers) and were checked for eye diseases, skin rashes or other health problems. Those who were not cleared medically or in any of the stations had to go to an Appeals Station manned by Karen Crofoot. Linda Holmes checked their baggage. She also did the Money Exchange Station and final welcome to America. Crofoot administered the Oath of Allegiance.
The project is part of a curricula called "Where We Are in Place and Time."

Frankly, it would be prudent to also include in the feelings coursework an exercise which replicates the experience of an illegal alien entering the United States. The experience of trekking through the desert, scaling fences, forging documents, hiding in the holds of ships, and dealing with snakeheads and coyotes (human smugglers) shouldn't be overlooked.

After all, we wouldn't want the youngsters to be confused about the difference between an illegal alien and a legal immigrant. Now, would we?

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