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Immigration In and Out of the Classroom

Read our blog on how to teach immigration and engage students on timely immigration issues.

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Calling All 5th Graders

Join the National Creative Writing Contest to explore America as a nation of immigrants and win prizes!

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Our Mission

The Community Education Center strives to promote a better understanding of immigrants and immigration by providing educational resources

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Engage Your Community

Work with local organizations committed to immigrant rights, integration and social justice in your community

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New Book Reviews

Check out new book reviews on immigrant stories from the Community Education Resource Center.

We welcome book reviews from students! Email for more information.

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Community Connections

As educators, one of the great joys is introducing students to fiction that allows students to see themselves in characters they thought were nothing like them and which they shared little in common. It is one of the most effective ways to teach empathy, broaden understanding, and disprove stereotypes. It is the stuff of “a-ha” moments, meaningful connections that transcend the classroom, and Dinaw Mengestu’s novels are ripe with these potential moments for high school students. His character-driven narratives highlight the universal tensions between home and displacement, loss and renewal, as explored in the migration experience.

The award-winning novelist and Mac Arthur Fellow has published three novels The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (Penguin 2007), How to Read Air (Penguin 2010), and All Our Names (Knopf 2014).  An Ethiopian-American, his family left Addis Ababa when he was two-years-old during a violent period in Ethiopia known as “Red Terror.” He was raised in Peoria, Illinois, the setting used in his second novel.

Multi-Dimensional Character-Driven Narratives

Of his characters Mengestu said, in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), they are “driven for a sort of home…what I think is a pretty universal and pretty common feeling.” Never does a character seem to fully understand his or her place, what they have lost in leaving and what they hope to find in a new home. 

In this immigration lesson plan, students will read a brief version of Rais Bhuiyan’s inspiring story of forgiveness towards his attacker after being a survivor of a hate crime in the days after 9/11 because he was an immigrant. Students will then watch and respond to a Ted Talk by author Anand Giridharadas on Bhuiyan’s story as well as listen Bhuiyan speak about his story and his efforts to build the World Without Hate foundation. Student will be asked to consider what does acceptance and forgiveness mean to them as well as how their school can contribute to making a world without hate.

This lesson is adaptable to English Language Learners and readers at multiple levels.  It was developed by teacher Julie Mann, an ESL and Human Rights Teacher at Newcomers High School, Long Island City, New York and distributed with her permission.

For lesson procedures and Common Core alignment, please click here.

In The News

Washington D.C. - The American Immigration Council is pleased to announce that the first place winner of the American Immigration Council’s 18th Annual 'Celebrate America' Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest is Anya Frazer from the Fred A. Olds Elementary School in...
In this tweet chat, English teachers discussed the benefits of telling digital stories on immigration to build community and empathy inside and outside of the classroom while being culturally sensitive to student backgrounds and needs.  Our Crossing Borders with...
The Durham Academy News Feed recently highlighted remarks made by the American Immigration Council's Executive Director Ben Johsnon. Johnson spoke at the Durham Academy Upper School's annual Martin Luther King assembly and noted that lessons can be gleaned on a big-...

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