Who are the young people we are educating?
Immigrant-origin children and their native-born peers are growing up in an era of demographic shifts and social changes. In the United States, 27% of students are first or second-generation Americans, mirroring the worldwide movement of 184 million people living outside their birth countries. This shift contributes to more diverse classrooms and communities that all young people are learning to navigate.
Students with immigrant backgrounds often possess the ability to fluidly move between cultures and languages, granting them a unique perspective and the potential to act as cultural bridges. However, their abilities are frequently overlooked because few educators have been taught to recognize the assets that immigrant-origin youth bring with them to school. Too often, immigrant youth are marginalized in school systems that have not adapted to the diversity of the current and future student body, particularly in an era of increasing cultural anxiety.
At the same time, non-immigrant students engage with their immigrant peers in various ways. Some may internalize xenophobic attitudes that are predictable in times of demographic change, while others approach cultural exchanges with openness. These native-born children are crucial participants in the integration process, acting as bystanders, bridge-builders, or gatekeepers
The resources below help educators learn to use knowledge of their students’ identities to empower all of their students.