It’s an engaging complication that even school children can investigate with greater vigor and clarity than the pundits and fulminators and bloviators of the news cycle. At one of my past schools we called this Project Acceptance, in which 5th- to 8th-graders focused on the experience of immigrants, or new Americans. For several weeks, our students even used an online forum to share their opinions about a common set of readings. I recommend author Margy Burns Knight who wrote, "Who Belongs Here?" the story of a young Cambodian boy refugee living in the US. International students from GSA joined us. I recommend Katherine Applegate’s book, "Home of the Brave," the story of a Sudanese refugee boy in Minnesota. I recommend Allen Say’s "Grandfather’s Journey," to name but a few.
Which is to say we shouldn’t stray too far from story telling, a format that each one of us could use to tell our family history – showing how we belong here. “Who Am I?” I asked my students to get started and then presented the following facts about two mystery people.
I’m an American. I belong here.
I was born in Tokyo. My father was born in Tonawanda, my mother in Pittsburgh. My great-great grandparents came from Germany and from Glasgow, Scotland. My German great-great-grandfather sold flour from a wheelbarrow in Pittsburgh. They all arrived in America in the late 19th century. My other great-great-grandparents lived in Moose River, Maine and, after the Civil War, went to Michigan and then Nebraska in a covered wagon. Their ancestors had arrived here almost 400 years ago from England.