On Wednesday, February 5, the second grade embarked on a research field trip to Angel Island and the former immigration center, which perfectly tied into the humanities theme of their grade: Bay Area history through the lens of immigration.
“We have been looking at Chinese immigration in the late 1800s as a result of the transcontinental railroad,” second-grade teacher Sam Modest said. “Students have been learning about this systemic oppression, and also the ways that people resisted and persisted in the face of discrimination.
In addition, the class has also been looking at the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was brought on by this massive influx of people.
Student Maren L. said, “We’re learning about this because it’s a really important part of history.”
To better understand what it might have been like to be an immigrant on Angel Island, students conducted extensive research prior to their visit. They read stories on the experiences of Chinese immigrants, studied primary source photographs of the immigration station in operation, watched a KQED video about the station’s history, and read poetry that Chinese immigrants carved into the walls of the barracks. In looking at the poetry, students selected a poem and then a line from that poem and dissected what they thought the author might have felt when the poem was written.
When the students arrived at the barracks, they were awed to see the same poems they had carefully studied on the walls. “For many students, that was a highlight of the trip,” Sam said.
“My favorite part was seeing all the carvings on the walls,” student Anaya K. said. “I also liked seeing replicas of the items that immigrants brought with them, because it taught us about where they came from.”
Student Ishan S. shared, “My favorite part of the field trip was going inside the building and seeing all the cool stuff that I hadn't seen before.”
For the final part of their studies, second graders have selected one unmet need of the Chinese immigrants and a changemaking job that would empower them to implement a solution to this unmet need.
One student said, “I would be the architect of the immigration station, and I would build walls in the medical exams rooms so the immigrants had more privacy.”
Another said, “I would be a state senator and try to make laws that helped the immigrants have more rights, so that the station would be less claustrophobic and more welcoming.”
“Within the project and field trip we integrate equity and inclusion, design thinking, social-emotional skills, and empathy building,” Sam said. “We are asking ourselves, ‘How do we build empathy for people who immigrated to the United States during this time?’”
This project is really what Nueva is all about.