Paul Cuffee 8th grader Tisany Merilan easily completed the assignment, which was to use the word “foreign” in context, to set the stage for Mr. Chen’s Immigration Oral History Unit. A highlight of the 8th grade Humanities curriculum, the Immigration Oral History Unit immerses students in the facts, figures, and faces of immigrants in the nation, the state, and, for many Paul Cuffee students, in their own families.
The unit culminates with presentations recapping interviews that students conducted with either a family member or friend who immigrated to the U.S. The multi-disciplinary unit sharpens students’ writing, listening, interviewing, and presenting skills and encourages them to delve into another person’s life and culture.
Invited guest speaker and Director of Community Relations, Michelle DePlante, from Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island laid the groundwork of facts and figures on immigration in Rhode Island. The Institute’s mission is to serve immigrants and refugees in education, language, literacy, job training, and citizenship acquisition. Rhode Island outpaces the nation for its foreign-born population at 13.5% vs. the national average of 12%.
Ms. DePlante, herself the daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother, showed the state-wide demographics of where immigrants have settled in the state, not surprising our students that Providence’s population is 30% foreign born.
Students compiled interview questions touching on the motivation, first impressions, and experiences of those whose oral histories they will document and present later in the unit.