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Community Faces - Humanizing the Immigrant Label: A Better World Project

This video features an inspiring Better World Project accomplished by the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication (ISAAC) in New London, CT, an EL Education school. It was one of 18 winning Better World Projects selected by a committee of EL Education students, teachers, and leaders, from submissions across the country. These projects, and hundreds more, launched EL Education's inaugural Better World Project initiative. EL students and educators nationwide joined academics, character, and service to become active contributors to a better world.

Community Faces - Humanizing the Immigrant Label from EL Education on Vimeo.


- We’re a lot smarter when we learn from other people. Man, it’s the easiest and hardest thing to do, to listen to each other.

- Diversity is a positive thing for me because some of my friends, they came here from different countries, I think that’s cool because maybe you learned a few more things, so I’d love for you to share that story with me. And for me to get and understand you more. So I think of it as a new way of learning more about each other.

- You shouldn’t be afraid to say where you’re from just ‘cause you think people are gonna judge you. You should be happy and you should celebrate it, ‘cause it’s where you’re from, and how you are different from others.

- A sense of we all have our own stories impacts how they see others in their community, how they see especially kids within their own school.

- We’ve had an essential question since day one of this project and been trying to accomplish that and that question was, can describing the human experience of immigration change stereotypes that we see.

- The most powerful part of the project was actually interviewing the immigrants and learning their backstory of how they got here.

- [Esperanza] My momma left when I was five years old and I didn’t live with her again until I was 13.

- [Derek] I grew up in the communist country. We didn’t have much freedom.

- [Fiyin] I didn’t know what a stop sign was until I came to the United States. My wife was like, you have to stop.

- [Ying] Well, by the time you get here, suddenly you realize you’re just alone, by yourself.

- [Mary] I had the support of Scottish girls.

- [Pietro] For me it was rough, it was tough, it was I start at zero.

- [Nancy] I still feel back to this day, that fear, of just not knowing what people were saying, what I was supposed to do.

- [Luqman] Yes, I am different, and I’m open to really showing who I really am.

- These pictures, that the kids took, I was like, emotional, and just to see people, like how they gravitate towards these photos, it’s amazing.

- She has such a good smile.

- Yeah.

- [David] They see it and they walk over and they say wow, that’s a phenomenal piece of work. And then you see a QR code, and you scan the QR code on any device, and it leads to student-created websites on each immigrant in English and Spanish.

- We drew a compass with her colors.

- [David] The students spoke to the human face of immigration, and really brought their stories to life with great dignity and pride and respect.

- He’s going to college right now in Three Rivers--

- That’s great.

- Community College in Norwich, and he’s having fun.

- It would be difficult just to leave everything behind.

- [Man] Yeah.

- It shows where she lived in China specifically.

- That’s such a great job, this is fabulous.

- This is great.

- In social studies, students interviewed 16 immigrants from across the world, analyzed the interview as a primary source to tell the story of immigration.

- Mr. K was bringing in experts from the community. Dr. Fay from Yale to teach students how to interview in a professional way.

- That’s what a typical day is like for so many immigrants.

- What this project taught me is the value of community partners.

- So I taught ‘em how to take photos with lighting and composition and how to talk to their subjects.

- So there’s the authentic component, but then there’s also that application and kind of integration of learning.

- Students learnt about immigration to the United States in the 1920’s to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They then compared and contrasted that experience to what they saw in the news through a variety of news sources, on a variety of political sides. There was a lot of debate. They were able to make up their own mind.

- You know, art and history and science, and they’re incorporating it into my class to make something that’s beautiful, you know, and they’re still doing math, they did some compass roses, they found the relative location from the capital city to their immigrant’s hometown. Using the math that we’re learning in class, but taking it and turning it around into a story. This whole project was interdisciplinary, even in science with the climographs, well, graphing is math, and you’re talking about numbers, and you’re comparing and contrasting and L.A.

- [David] And in Language Arts, the students had learned about the heroes journey, the archetype.

- Heroes journey, which is what they went through, and who helped them come to the U.S.

- That also is a powerful learning experience for them, just to sort of start to think of themselves as, what journey am I on in life?

- People want to see it, and there are books being bought. All of the money raised from the book is going to support the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center. The students just found out that the money their book is raising is actually going to get one of the immigrants that they interviewed their green card. So, you know, it gave them chills, it gave me chills, it was phenomenal, you know, to see that it really is changing peoples lives.

- We’re the next generation, so we could change the world by taking on these topics.

- The students took ownership. They took complete ownership because they knew they were responsible for sharing that human story.

- So there’s this layer of quality, and then there’s this layer of character and doing service to the community and telling the story to the community that then leads to natural outcomes of mastery of knowledge and skills, that their reading skills and their writing skills and their science concepts and their math concepts all because they’re applied to this really engaging, big question, they just naturally evolve and develop.

- Let’s work hard together to challenge our own stereotypes, and make this world a better place.

- Sitting in the audience last Tuesday night at the showcase of their learning at Connecticut College was probably one of the highlights of my career. The students were authentically speaking about their learning, and the impact it had on others in the community.

- This is what I educate for. They wanna know more, so that they can be smarter, to make a positive impact.

- I’m in a great country, a very diverse country, and they give me the education I need for moving forward.

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