The “examiner” scanned the papers and fired off a question, and then another. The hopeful “immigrant” sat perplexed, not understanding a word spoken to her. With a dash of the pen, a wave of the hand, a decision is made.
Welcome to Ellis Island.
And welcome to Emerson’s 7th grade Social Studies class and a simulation of the immigrant experience. 8th grade “examiners” speak an indecipherable language and judge the qualities of the “immigrants.” The “foreigners” struggle to make themselves understood.
The 7th graders have read “The Arrival”, by Shaun Tan in Language Arts class, and the book, with its invented alphabet and strange new world is the basis of their Social Studies work. Teachers Beth Nazario and Andy Zimmer collaborated on this unique project.
“Examiner” and “immigrant” meet across a table. Who will go? Who will stay? What will the future bring? The classroom is filled with questions.