Immigration narratives: Hidden links between U.S. empire and Filipino immigration to the U.S.

byKatherine Cohen Volin

Immigration has been a topic of discussion and debate since the beginning of the United States. Missing from the U.S. public’s understanding of the history of immigration and immigration today is the understanding of the connection between immigration to the U.S. and the history of global empire. This is because most people do not see the U.S. as a colonizing power. The United States’ colonies have been hidden and forgotten about.

In this unit, students will learn about and discuss the influence of U.S. empire on immigration by reading the immigration narratives of people from the Philippines, a U.S. colony from 1899 to 1946. Students will use these narratives as a jumping off point to learn more about the colonization of the Philippines and immigration history through a variety of sources. Then students will use the narratives as mentor texts in order to write their own immigrant narratives, either of their immigration experience or by interviewing someone who has immigrated to the U.S.

This unit is written for a 7th grade English/Language arts class but could be adapted to be used in higher grade levels or in a Social Studies class.

(Developed for English Language Arts, grade 7; recommended for English Language Arts, United States History, and World History, grades 7-12)

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