Day Two of our Immigration “Experiment” – the day started off with some math exercises to keep the students’ minds sharp in preparation for their arrival later today at Ellis Island. After discussing in reading how they thought their main character may have felt after immigrating, it was off to music, before settling into snack aboard our ship. Coincidentally, the chapter in our read aloud was also about the character’s imminent arrival in Ellis Island as well. After lunch, we settled back into our ship to hear a first hand account of this portion of an immigrant’s voyage. We watched a short video clip before getting ready for departure. After cleaning up, the students were led to the bottom floor to first undergo a medical test based on the “six second test” done at Ellis Island. A doctor stood at the top of the stairs waiting to examining the immigrants as they came up the two flights of stairs. Some of the students were put into quarantine to have a further examination. Those who passed got to start their inspection phase. Shocked looks were on the students’ faces when the inspector started asking them questions in Spanish. An interpreter, whose English was not that good, helped them along. If they passed that exam, students then got to take the actual literacy test administered at Ellis Island. From there, they had passport photos taken. Several of the students were unknowingly harboring illegal items and were detained slightly longer. As we read from the first hand account, some of the passengers in steerage were not of good moral quality. It has been a great two days with students really experiencing some what the immigrants felt during their journey. Here are some passages from their journals today:
EC 10 “I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel happy because I’m entering a new country that I came all this way for. I’m sad because I had so many memories in my old home. I left my friends and family behind. Since I grew up there, I had many fun moments and some sad moments. But I’m proud that I’m going to the U.S. I felt tired after running up the stairs with a ten pound bag. The first test was confusing to me because she was talking in Spanish.”
EC 12: “The run up the steps and the medical testing were easy. Then came the interview. How are we supposed to know a different language? This person was speaking to you, but y ou do not know WHAT she is saying. There is a translator, but she takes oh so long to respond. The person speaking the different language gets mad and you don’t know what to do.”
EC 16: “We are arriving at Ellis Island later today. It is really fun being in steerage, but in reality, it would stink. I am excited that we are landing because it is getting a bit cramped here. I have heard many bad things about Ellis Island. There she is! The Statue of Liberty! We’re here! A better life awaits us. She opens the gates for us! A new life! No more wars or dying or anything. Mo more sickness and no more vandalism. This country is beautiful. And, it’s mine! I can’t wait to see my uncle.