Monday, April 18, 2005


The topic of inmigration came up a month ago in social studies. This offered the perfect means of gaining more insight into my own students' immigration issues. Our textbook only referred to inmigrants coming from China to CA or Germany to NY, so I explained that inmigrants can also travel from south to north. This sparked an enlightening conversation; with little leading, my students began sharing their own stories of crossing the Rio Grande River. Five or so of my children have swam across the river-either by themselves, clinging to their mother's back, or propped abover their father's head. They told me (and their classmates) stories of run-ins with Border Patrol and parental deportations. One of my adorable little boys lives with his grandparents and cousins in Texas because his parents are unable to legally cross and illegal crossings have only resulted in deportation, yet his parents want him to receive education in the US. In social studies we learned that people inmigrate in search of "mas libertades." But, this student said, "Miss...that's not the reason my mom wanted to come here; she just wanted to take care of me when I was sick." Later when we were reviewing the word "inmigrante" for our comprehensive six weeks test, another students proudly stated, "Like me Miss, because I swam across the Rio on my father's back."
During most of these class discussions I just sat back and listened, wide-eyed. It was an incredible experience to have a roomful of children openly and excitedly sharing their (arguably controversial) personal stories while their classmates respectfully listened. My roommates (who are all sixth grade teachers) explained to me that by students get to their grade level they have been socially conditioned to not talk about their inmigration experiences.....very interesting.

One student's definition of "inmigrantes" (inmigrants): "senores que la policia arrestan" (Men that the police arrest).


Post a Comment

<< Home