Our students explored how historical events such as immigration and war affected their families and the evolution of cultural traditions. Students read historical novels related to their families’ unique histories, presented on corresponding historical topics, and wrote creative pieces related to their families’ stories, significant moments and traditions. Each piece went through extensive critique and revision so that students could not only learn about each other, but also help each other with their writing. The final pieces were compiled and published as a book, Cultural Encounters, available at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1934355, with each article accompanied by a family photo.
When I first came to the United States from El Salvador in 1989 I had the opportunity to work with the homeless children of immigrants in Los Angeles. I spent a great deal of time listening to those kids’ stories. They helped me realize that everyone has an incredible story to tell and that their stories are part of a larger story: the story of people who have come to this country at different times and from different places. Our book continues that story, written with the ink and sweat of our students.
During this project, we all had the chance to interview our family members and write a story based on one moment from their lives. This project didn’t just turn out to be a school project. It became a project for us, a way to discover a part of ourselves and get connected to our families. Nothing says more about your family than to actually write a fascinating story and know that you were somehow part of it!
—Karina Davalos, 10th grade
I found out tons of little anecdotes about family members that I had never had the chance to know. Taking those stories and embellishing them was fun and interesting. I also got to refine my skills on Microsoft Publisher, a program that I realized could be used for a plethora of different jobs.
—Carly Flowers, 10th grade