Why Immigrate to the US? Fall 2012

↪ Student Digital Stories

Students enrolled in Finding Voice classes during the Fall, 2012 semester started the school year by creating “Life Maps” – visual representations of their young, but complex, lives as refugees and immigrants, and then autobiographical essays talking about their life journeys. Coming out of this work, the students and teacher explored the push and pull factors of immigration – closely and critically reading historical and contemporary texts about immigration and discussing controversial issues and legislation surrounding immigration in the United States today. As a result of this work, students decided that it was critical that they tell the stories of their home countries and why they (and their families) made the difficult choice to leave those countries. Expressing their love and homesickness for their countries of origin (which they defined as either birthplace or the place they spent their childhood), the majority of students argued that many people had been “forced” to come to the US. They worked in collaborative teams to research the reasons people might feel “pushed” out of their country, and the reasons they might feel a “pull” to the US. They interviewed their parents, neighbors, and community elders. They read online in their native languages and in English about political, economic, and social situations in their home countries. They wrote their own personal immigration narratives. Using their interview data, online research, personal stories, and information from experts in refugee and immigrant research, policy, and service communities, the students created digital stories with peers from their same home country. Their goal was to help others understand why they are here in the United States. “We’re here for a reason, not without reasons,” one young man from Somalia wrote.