Italian V students recently took a field trip to Ellis Island as part of their unit on Italian immigration to the US. Students had learned about the reasons prompting individuals to leave their homelands, the differences between the immigrant experience in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and that of the last 50 years, the ordeal of ship travel for those immigrating before the 1950’s and the process of entering the U.S. through Ellis Island.
“While visiting the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, students were amazed to see the Great Hall where arriving immigrants were interviewed, observed and, in many cases, labeled for additional screening for physical or health problems that could result in a return to their home country,” reports Italian Teacher Tricia Castelli. “Students searched records on ancestors that passed through Ellis Island and many were excited to find the name of an ancestor on the Immigrant Wall of Honor.”
Back at school, students discussed what they had learned and incorporated the information into a culminating project, which included oral presentations and essays based on interviews with relatives or friends who had immigrated to the US and how their experience compared with that of immigrants of the beginning of the 20th century.