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When it comes to teaching students about immigration and the immigrant experience, there is no better book than Jennie Torres Sanchez’s We Are Not From Here Jennie Torres Sanchez. This New York Times Bestseller tells the story of three Guatemalan teenagers who are forced to flee their home country for a better life in America. Through its compelling narrative and vivid imagery, We Are Not From Here serves as a powerful tool for engaging students in conversations about immigration, identity, and belonging. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use this book in your classroom.
Start With a Discussion
Before diving into the text itself, start by having an open discussion with your students on what they know (or think they know) about immigration and the immigrant experience. Encourage them to share their own thoughts and experiences without fear of judgement. You can also introduce some basic facts about immigration—such as statistics on how many people are immigrating to/from certain countries—to provide context for the text.
Let Students Explore Their Own Identities Through Literature
We Are Not From Here Jennie Torres Sanchez is a great way to explore themes of identity, belonging, and home with your students. As they read through it, encourage them to think critically about how each character’s identity is impacted by their circumstances and environment. Ask questions like “How does being an immigrant shape each character’s sense of identity?” or “What does it mean to have a sense of home?” These conversations will give your students an opportunity to reflect on their own identities and explore different perspectives on immigration.
Be Respectful When Discussing Immigration Issues
It’s important to remember that this is a sensitive subject for many people, so be sure to approach it with respect and sensitivity when discussing it in class. Make sure your students understand that this is not just an academic exercise; these issues are real-life concerns faced by many people around the world every day. Encourage empathy and understanding among your student body so that everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgement or criticism from their peers or teachers alike
Discussing Immigration Issues with Sensitivity
When teaching a sensitive topic such as immigration, it is important to create an environment where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement or ridicule. It is also essential that all points of view are respected in order to foster an atmosphere of open dialogue. To ensure this kind of atmosphere, teachers should introduce respectful language guidelines at the beginning of the lesson and reinforce them throughout discussion. This will help students stay focused on the text rather than getting caught up in divisive debates about politics or current events.
Exploring Multiple Perspectives
The characters in “We Are Not from Here” come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, so it can be beneficial for students to explore how each character’s context influences their decisions and actions throughout the narrative. For example, students could explore how Paz’s upbringing on a coffee farm shapes her attitude towards risk-taking versus Paloma’s privileged background that leaves her more sheltered and naive. By exploring multiple perspectives within this one text, students will gain a deeper understanding of immigration issues while also honing their skills at analyzing literature and examining different points of view.
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Making Connections with Real World Examples
Once students have finished reading “We Are Not from Here” they should be encouraged to draw connections between these fictional characters’ experiences and those of real-life migrants around the world today. This could include researching contemporary immigration policies, examining statistics about migrant populations globally, sharing personal stories about friends or family members who have immigrated, or discussing current news stories related to migration issues. This will help bring further context to this already powerful story while giving students an opportunity to think critically about global affairs.
Integrate Multiple Disciplines
When teaching We Are Not From Here Jennie Torres Sanchez, it’s important to incorporate multiple disciplines into your lesson plans. For example, you could pair history with literature by having students research the political unrest in Guatemala and how it has affected Central American migration. This would provide students with an understanding of how current events shape people’s lives and how those events impact characters like Elva, Pancho, Beto, and Hector in the novel. You could also combine geography and art by having students map out Elva’s journey from Guatemala to Mexico City. This would give them a visual representation of her ordeal, as well as help them understand why some countries are more dangerous than others for migrants attempting to reach their destination. Additionally, it will be beneficial for students to draw connections between art forms like murals and sculptures that are featured in the book and other works of art they may have seen elsewhere.
Create Supportive Spaces
When discussing sensitive topics such as immigration, it’s important to create supportive classroom spaces where everyone feels safe expressing their thoughts without fear of judgement or ridicule. To do this, you should ask open-ended questions that allow all students to share their opinions without feeling intimidated or embarrassed. You should also set ground rules at the beginning of class so that everyone knows what is expected of them during discussions—for example, no interrupting when someone else is speaking or no negative comments about anyone else’s ideas. Lastly, let each student know that they can come talk to you if they ever feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed during class discussions about We Are Not From Here or any other topic being discussed throughout the semester.
Jennie Torres Sanchez’s We Are Not From Here provides educators with an invaluable resource for exploring immigration issues with their students in a meaningful way that encourages empathy and understanding. By starting off with an open discussion, allowing students to explore themes of identity through literature, and being respectful when discussing sensitive topics like immigration, you can create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves freely while learning more about this crucial issue facing our world today. With these tips in mind, using We Are Not From Here Jennie Torres Sanchez in the classroom can be both educational and inspiring!