Note from Re-Imagining Migration

We are honored to have the opportunity to highlight student work from classrooms using Re-Imagining Migration’s approach. The poetry collection below was sent to us by Jessica Lander. Jessica teaches at Lowell High School and has integrated Re-Imagining Migration’s approach into her curriculum since 2018 when she was a Re-Imagining Migration Fellow.

Introduction by Jessica Lander, Lowell High School

I have the honor of teaching history and civics to remarkable young people from around the world. They come from Colombia and Cambodia, Afghanistan and Ecuador, the Ivory Coast and India, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Spain, and Brazil – more than 20 countries.

We begin our study of US history by studying the stories of immigrants of more than a hundred years ago. We read Emma Lazarus’s words of welcome inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, and we discuss the impact of immigration laws crafted to exclude–the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act. We learn of and compare the experience and treatment of hopeful newcomers coming through Ellis Island in New York Harbor and Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. 

Together we read the words of immigrants detained at Angel Island–poems carved into walls a hundred years ago. While often only a few lines long, these poems brim with hopes, fears, and dreams.

When it comes to studying stories of immigration–my students are all experts. And so, after reading quietly and reflecting together–I asked them to become our teachers. 

Like those who came a hundred years before, my students shared slices of their journeys, their arrivals, their first days in school–poems that capture excitement and fear, heartache and joy, determination and hope. 

Their words, their stories, their strength, their wisdom have much to teach us all. For years Re-imagining Migration has been a powerful partner with our class. As Re-Imagining Migration writes, “Stories of migration offer a lens into our past, present, and future.” We all carry stories of migration and movement. These stories create opportunities to build connections and understanding and empathy for each other. Shared below, with permission of my student authors, are a selection of their beautiful, essential, and powerful voices — shares so all of us may learn from their wisdom and words. 




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