A documentary film by Jean-Michel Dissard & Gitte Peng
Make our schools welcoming for immigrant students.
Share the film with your former high school.
nearly one in four children is an immigrant or was born to immigrant parents. Our classrooms are meeting a growing influx of students who speak little to no English, who are unfamiliar with American culture, and, in some cases, who lack formal education. The fate of these young immigrants is at the core of America’s continually emerging identity.
... and what America do they know?
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."
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."
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
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."
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