On an otherwise cold and dreary Friday, the primary gym came alive with bright colors and excited faces as Grade 3 gathered for their annual World’s Fair! This event is the crowning achievement of the students’ work in studying the American Immigrant experience, and allows them to share what they’ve learned with their families in attendance.
At the end of 2nd Grade, students drew from a hat the name of a country that would serve as the foundation for this major 3rd Grade project. Over the summer, students work on their initial research for their country, which they then continue once the school year resumes. “We build the curriculum around the idea that you are an immigrant coming to America,” says Mrs. Hultgren. This allows students a unique opportunity to walk in the shoes of another, and hopefully benefit from a perspective distinct from their own life experience.
Today’s World’s Fair, the culmination of this course of study, offered a total immersion in the diverse experiences of these researched immigrants. After opening with a parade of nations and collective song, students offered a variety of presentations to the audience of families and teachers from the perspective of an immigrant of their selected country. A few students offered imagined explanations as to why they chose to emigrate from their country— was it a natural disaster that forced them from their ancestral homes, or did the dream of a new life beckon them to a new land? Next, a group of immigrants offered an examination of their traveling trunks, explaining the personal and cultural significance behind the items they chose to bring with them on their great journey. After this, students recited original Statue of Liberty acrostic poems, revealing their powerful thoughts and feelings brought to life by this great symbol of freedom and opportunity. After this, a group offered descriptions of their trips through Ellis Island, remarking on the fear and uncertainty inherent in this process, along with the joy and excitement awaiting them on the other side. Following this journey, the audience was treated to a group reading of Langston Hughes’ “I, Too,” to highlight the experiences of perseverance and the continued striving for equality common to all Americans.
After these presentations drew to a close, parents and families were treated to a multicultural feast of snacks and sweets from each of the represented countries, offering a true taste of the immigrant experience!
Special thanks to Mrs. Hultgren and Mrs. Mayard for their continued dedication to this unforgettable event, and to all the 3rd Grade families for their help and support!
[A special note from Mrs. Mayard: We want to acknowledge that events such as today’s World’s Fair can bring up discussions of Cultural Appropriation. Mrs. Hultgren and I have and will continue to discuss and explore stereotypes and respectful treatment of others. Our goal in this event, however, is to celebrate the rich diversity of America as a result of immigration, and in the process for the children to explore and value their own ancestry and those of others. Some of the children may be in traditional costumes which have been and may still be worn in a celebratory way in those countries. Others may be wearing outfits similar to what could have been worn by immigrants from their countries, or other types of period clothing.]