Immigration reform: Teaching kids about the “pathway to citizenship”
As immigration reform and the pathway to citizenship are moving forward, an educator tells his idea for teaching kids about what's really American.
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My wife was born in London. Her ancestors came from Russia and from Holland. The Dutch family was named Van Valkenburgh and arrived almost 400 years ago; the Russian family name was lost at Ellis Island, so they became “Brody,” the name of their town. They arrived in 1888 and lived on the lower east side of Manhattan … not far from where the Dutch ancestors had grazed cows. My sister-in-law is English; my brother-in-law is French. No one in our families speaks the languages of our ancestors any longer … except for English. My children have lived in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and my daughter returned to one of the “old countries” for her college degree. I wonder if she felt like she belonged in Glasgow? Who am I? Todd R. Nelson.Skip to next paragraph
Todd R. Nelson is head of school at The School in Rose Valley outside Philadelphia. He has been a Monitor contributor of Home Forum essays, poems, Op-Ed commentaries and feature articles since 1989. He writes a monthly column for Teachers.net. He and his wife, Lesley, have three adult children.
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Here’s another American story:
My father came from Kenya. He herded goats when he was young, then won a scholarship to school. My mother came from Kansas. My parents met in Hawaii. I grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii and went to college in California, New York, and Massachusetts. My mother’s family includes abolitionists and Revolutionary War veterans. My Kenyan grandmother just got electricity in her house. I have a half-sister who is Indonesian, a brother-in-law who is Chinese-Canadian. My relatives are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. In my extended family, we speak “English, Indonesian, French, Cantonese, German, Hebrew, African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo, and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Low country.”
My wife’s ancestors also came to this country from Africa – as slaves. They lived in South Carolina, Alabama, and eventually moved to Chicago. Her grandfather was a World War II veteran. One of my children has a Swahili name. We live in Washington, D.C. in the same house as my office. Who am I? President Obama.