(September 30th, 2019 — Jersey City) On Friday, September 27th, the 8th-grade class visited Ellis Island as they continue to explore the first marking period’s thematic unit: “Identity”. In each of their classes, all students are being asked to consider the unit’s essential question: What defines who we are?
Supervisor and social studies teacher, Ms. Velazquez attended the trip and explained how the students will make greater connections to the experience in her class.
“In my social studies class, we are exploring the theme of identity by first reflecting on our own choices and circumstances. Next, we will examine the factors that help make each of us who we are, including the influence of names, labels, choices, and family legacies, and from there students will begin to examine what makes up the identity of the United States, exploring how individuals and groups have defined what makes the nation what it is.”
The students took the ferry from Liberty State Park to Ellis Island. Once they reached the island, the students viewed the documentary “Immigration Through Ellis Island”. Then they toured the Immigration Museum while listening to audio scripters that detailed what it was like for immigrants entering and waiting to begin their new lives. The day ended with another ferry ride to Liberty Island to view the Statue of Liberty.
“I had so much fun. The audio guide gave us the freedom to take our time going throughout the museum. We really got to experience what life was like as different people entered Ellis Island,” 8th grader Madison Chambers shared.
Veronica Franco, 8th grade, agreed with Chambers. Franco also felt a great connection to the stories of the people and understood how the trip would help her with the “Identity” unit.
“This trip gave me the opportunity to really think about where people came from when they arrived at Ellis Island. We always think about how they came to America and had to learn a new language and how difficult that was or how they had to embrace a new economy, laws, and culture. But we rarely think about where they came from and how each of them had to embrace a whole new identity while trying to keep hold of their other one.”
As a follow up to this trip and in order to continue the discussion about identity, Living Voices will be performing “Island of Hope” for the students at Explore this Friday, October 7th.