Last Friday we had Immigration Day. We got to experience what it was like to immigrate to America back in the 1900's. We all dressed up as immigrants and brought suitcases (backpacks, pillowcase, etc.) to make the re-enactment more realistic. First, we all sat on a boat (one of our teachers classrooms) for an hour with about 200 other people. About ten of the "immigrants" were first class and got to sit in the chairs instead of on the floor with all the other immigrants. They also got to eat cookies and got to drink punch. After the "ship" reached land, the first class immigrants got off. If you were first class and you easily passed through all of the examinations. Then, the teachers slowly selected pairs of regular immigrants to get off. We had to go through exams and some people had to go to the hospital. Before you could go to America you had to go through Customs. These were the steps to becoming an immigrant. You had to go through Customs, Physical, Mental, Medical, Eye, and Legal Exams.
At customs we had parent volunteers and teachers check and make sure we were the person we said we were. If you didn't pass you were deported and had to go back to the ship.
Next was physical. You had to do exercises that proved you were worth passing through. If you were weak you would get deported.
Then, there was mental. You had to take a test that showed whether you were smart or not. You had to be a bright person to get passed that.
There is also medical. At medical you had to check and see if you were sick or had any diseases.
Next, was the eye exam. You had to make sure you could see properly. If you had crusty eyes you would not get through.
Last, but not least is the legal exam. You had to take a test in Spanish. At the end we went over the real meanings.
We learned a lot with this experience. We know how the immigrants felt: sad, angry, frustrated, scared, and excited. Sometimes it helps to experience it yourself. We know how hard it was not knowing other languages, maybe having a disease, or getting deported. If you did get deported, you did get to go back through, unlike the real immigrants though. The day was a lot of fun too though. Everyone was dressed up, and the teachers acted like the Ellis Island workers. I think everyone learning about immigration should do this because it makes the learning more real.
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