Classroom Resource: Immigration in a Small Town

Main Street in Galax, Virginia via Wikimedia Commons

Across the United States, there are deep divisions in the way people think about immigration. Some see immigration as a positive, others are concerned that immigrants are changing the culture or taking advantage. The divisions are often correlated with political party affiliation, where people get their news, whether they personally know people born outside of the country, and where they live.

Melissa Block, a reporter for National Public Radio spoke to people in Galax, Virginia, a small town with a growing Hispanic population to better understand the way people across the community thought about immigration. Listen to the five-minute report below:

Use this link for a transcript of the full report. 

Reflection Questions

  1. How do you explain why some people see immigration as a threat while others see it an opportunity for their community? What do you think would need to happen for more people to see immigration and immigrants as positive additions to their communities? You might return to these questions after listening to and discussing the short radio report.
  2. As you listened to the report, what words stood out? Are there some words or ideas that you heard more than others? If so, what were they?
  3. Discussions of immigration, like many current events, are often complicated by concerns or questions that people associate with the topic. Imagine an iceberg, if immigration is the part of the iceberg above the water: what questions or concerns are below the surface? Consider using the iceberg diagram strategy to make the issues that are underneath the surface visible. We recommend this Facing History page.
  4. What did you learn from listening to the voices of people in Galax? Whose ideas about immigration are most similar to yours? Whose ideas sound like they are most different than yours?
  5. Based on what you heard, are there areas of agreement between the different people featured? What differences do you notice?

One Project Zero thinking routine you might use to discuss the piece is called “connect, extend, challenge”. Here is a link to Project Zero to learn how you might use it.