22 October 2012

My Little Immigrant

It's immigration month in the fourth grade. Last week, the girl had to bring a pillowcase to school, weighing no more than 10 pounds, containing the essentials you'd pack quickly if you had to make a run for the boat to America:

  • Toothbrush
  • Hairbrush
  • Soap
  • Washcloth
  • Spoon & fork
  • (Small) Blanket
  • (Small) Pillow
  • Picture of family
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • The Tempest
  • Pencil
  • Notebook
  • Nightgown
  • Socks
  • Dress
  • Sweater
  • Scarf
  • Money (a fake $100 bill)
  • Jewelry (a "pearl" necklace)
  • Key (to the dacha, in case they return)
  • Doll

[She refused to bring underpants: "what if someone sees them?" No discussion of why you always travel with clean underwear would convince her.]

Today was the immigration simulation, where all of the fourth graders get off the boat and line up in the cafeteria to be admitted, detained or deported. For that, she was dressed up as her character, a Russian named Ekaterina Romanoff. [Actually, she started off as Maria Romanoff, until I suggested that Ekaterina was nice because it was the Russian version of her middle  name.]

Tomorrow, they go to Ellis Island. Thursday and Friday are the performances of the class play - with, naturally, an immigration theme, and Friday is the international luncheon. Being Northern European mutts, I wasn't sure what to send in, so I'm going to make blitz kuchen, a "lightning" fast German crumb cake that my mother used to make.

The other night, just because, we poked around on the Ellis Island website, and found some relatives: my two grandfathers, and one of my husband's. None of those were immigration journeys, though - they were returning US citizens. Still, it was fun to find them there.

I have to say, it's a pretty wonderful immersion.


Mental P Mama said...

Awww. I remember when mine did this! So much fun. And, "The Tempest"? She is so your daughter;)

Anonymous said...

And a carpet bag?? Perfect -- I'm worried that she might need a warmer coat and some mitten, though.

Rima said...

She looks so cute! That's a great experience (the simulation, not the actual immigration.) I might just make my kids do it as an extracurricular activity, perhaps at Lithuanian Saturday school. We would of course be Lithuanian immigrants.

jo(e) said...

When my piano teacher came here from Russia more than 25 years ago, she was allowed only one suitcase. She wore as many clothes as she could put on -- she said she felt like a cabbage -- and then took them off and put them in a garbage bag after she'd crossed the border. The toughest thing for her is that she had to leave almost all of her piano music. The one book of piano music she chose to bring was Chopin's Waltzes.

Lady M said...

What an awesome set of projects!

RuthWells said...

Love it.

Julia said...

We have a Russian store down the street, if you want some delicacies...

Sounds fun!

Anna said...

that is such a cool project. i remember looking-up my maternal great-grandfather in the wdc archives as a kid - i bet i could do it online now.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Now that's how education is supposed to be done.

Jeanne said...

My family always had the same dilemma when the kids were asked to bring something from "our heritage" in to school. We finally settled on Cajun.

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

My Italian grandparents and uncle came through Ellis Island. There names are on the wall there. My mother was the first in her family to be born in America.

Adorable photo of your girl. Elementary school can be so fun.

mayberry said...

Very cool! I think my kids might be able to find some relatives from their Italian or Slovakian ancestors if we visit Ellis Island.

Kizz said...

I was wondering about the undies...

Quiana said...

Your daughter was fully in character - what a great experience for her! I used to love projects like this in school. I was struck by your post as I recently posted about my experience at the Mob Attraction in Vegas and it included my husband and I going through immigration at Ellis Island. I was very much into it and took an embarrassing photo of myself with my pashmina wrapped around my head being reminded of the images I saw when studying Ellis Island as a schoolgirl. I take my history seriously I guess!

Jocelyn said...

I have to make sure my 7th grader--Social Studies Girl to the end--NEVER sees this post.

She'll never forgive me for giving birth to and raising her in Minnesota...so far away from all the real fun.

alejna said...

What a cool activity! It sounds like the sort of thing that will make a lasting impression on kids.

antropologa said...

There's a museum in Gothenburg, Sweden that deals with the practical side of immigrants from Sweden to the US back in the 1800s when so many of them emigrated to the US. It is really amazing to see all the period clothes and trunks and food and ships and whatnot and to think about what it meant, then, to immigrate. You were never coming back! You would never see people again!