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Teaching about Central American immigration

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School might be out, but for many teachers long summer days also mean lesson-planning and curriculum development and design. In light of the continued divisions among lawmakers and society as a whole, some educators are starting, or continuing, to develop lesson plans that allow students to explore the historical and social context of immigration to the U.S. from Central America.

The Teaching for Change organization created a lesson plan, in conjunction with the When We Were Young There Was a War site, to use the real-life stories of young people who have migrated from Central America in order to teach about the context of immigration from Central America in the classroom in a way that allows students to directly connect with their peers in and from Central America.

The site itself, created by a documentary journalist, together with a team of storytellers, educators, and translators, is designed to highlight the stories of real young people who had to flee war, violence, and poverty in their home countries to build a life here in the U.S.

The timing, in many ways, could not be better. Not only is the issue of Central American immigration at the forefront of many people’s minds across the nation as it has become a focal point of the current administration’s divisive policies; the social reality of many unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border in the past five years is being seen and played out first and foremost in classrooms across the U.S.

By providing students in classrooms across the country with a more nuanced understanding of why immigrants from Central America are coming to this country, educators hope to improve students’ knowledge of the historical context of immigration today, and create the possibility of a new future for immigrant students and those born in the U.S. alike.

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