English-Language Learners

The Real Lives of Immigrant Students

By Anthony Rebora — October 26, 2010 1 min read
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Just in case you weren’t aware: Our Teacher book club discussion of Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe is going on all this week. I’m biased, of course, but it’s a pretty powerful discussion so far—one that really takes you up close to the challenges that immigrant students (and their teachers) face. Here are some short, selected quotes I’ve pulled from the conversation so far—just to give you a taste:

Author Helen Thorpe: “Unlike other readers, teachers typically understand that the two students who lack legal status inherited a set of circumstances that were not of their own making.”

Barbara A: “It is difficult to read the effect borders and parental decisions have on innocent children. What a tragedy to think of bright young minds wasted in this, the land of opportunity.”

Helen Thorpe: “These young women were truly caught between two worlds--the world of their parents, who value children and family above all else, and want their daughters to marry well and start families while they are young and healthy, and the world of their educators, who wanted them to stay in school and get college degrees and achieve professional careers, so that they could earn more money than their parents had been able to earn.”

Macmd: “I am not comfortable limiting the potential of young students, and don’t feel that children should be held responsible (or held back) based on decisions their parents made when they were younger.”

JAirhart: “What can we do as educators besides continuing to encourage and educate our students?”

Liana Heitin: “For many students, having a safe space to discuss issues related to documentation--such as living with constant anxiety about being “caught” or finding a way to pay for college without financial aid--would be invaluable. Do you recommend high school teachers broach the subject of status? ...”

Add your thoughts, experiences, questions. (And don’t worry, there’s no requirement that you have to have read the book.)

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.