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I learn America

A documentary film by Jean-Michel Dissard & Gitte Peng

At the International High School at Lafayette, a Brooklyn public high school dedicated to newly arrived immigrants from all over the world, five teenagers strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, and create a future of their own while coming of age in a new land.

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" The stories in the film can help educators take action and create the conditions that bring the main components to culturally responsive pedagogy to life. The film has tremendous value to the 450,000 educators we work with across the USA. "

Sara Wicht – Teaching Tolerance, a project of The Southern Poverty Law Center

COLLABORATORS

"A truly remarkable film which gives great insight into the young immigrant experience."

Carola Suárez-Orozco, Director, UCLA Institute for Immigration,Globalization and Education

Purchase

Purchase the DVD

Purchase the DVD

The DVD features:

Theatrical version (92 minutes)
Classroom version (50 minutes)
Menu to key scenes

English Closed Captioning for English Learners -- Spanish, French, Arabic subtitle translations.

I LEARN AMERICA is being distributed through New Day Films, an educational distributor that has been providing high-quality social issue films for over 40 years to Universities and Colleges.

The film is being used in classrooms focusing on: Education, Teachers' training, Immigration, Language Acquisition, English For Speakers of another Language, Social Work, Ethnic Study, Psychology, Sociology, and more.

The Students

BRANDON

After ten years apart, Brandon made the perilous journey from Guatemala to America to reunite with his mother. Crossing the desert by himself was easy compared to getting to know his mom again.

"When I came to America, my first goal was to see my mother. But after ten years it's totally different. For ten years she didn't know me. It was kind of like putting two persons in a room, kind of to meet each other."

Sing is a refugee from Myanmar who recently relocated to Brooklyn, leaving his family behind. He feels isolated and angry and barely speaks English.

"What I want to say, I have in my brain, but ... I can't speak in English. It makes me sometimes confused."

SING
ITRAT

ITRAT came to America from Pakistan to join a father she hardly knew after the passing of her mother. What kind of future is waiting for her in America?

"I am part of Pakistan because I was born there and I was raised in the beginning part of my life. But at the same time I was only eleven days and my dad came here. And I started hearing, 'America ... America ... America'. And, 'This country has everything'. Now I'm divided. In two parts."

SANDRA is a tomboy from Poland, undocumented and a class leader. She and Dominican-born JENNIFFER, her sassy classmate, are inseparable – “like a flower with water.”

"Being different is like a part time job. You are half yourself and half the time you try to be someone better for the people to show how you want to be. I want to be myself. I want to open the eyes and hearts to really show I am still the same person inside with the same feelings, same identity and the same human rights as anybody else in this world."
-Sandra

SANDRA & JENNIFFER
THE SCHOOL

In Brooklyn, New York, the International High School at Lafayette serves newly arrived immigrants from more than 50 different countries. This high school is part of a growing network of small public schools where new immigrant students are valued and nurtured in the challenge to participate fully in the American Dream. The model uses heterogeneous and collaborative learning to give students the rigor and support they need to achieve academically, socially, and linguistically.

"We need to serve these students. Regardless of how you may feel about the immigration issue, they are children, and they did not choose to come here. But they are here. So the options are to serve them, nurture them, and educate them, or not.Then what?"
-Principal Michael Soet

The School

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