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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Telling Migration Stories: Course Connections and Building Classroom Community

  • Author(s): Fouratt, Caitlin E
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

This commentary shares an assignment on family migration stories from an upper-division undergraduate course on global migration. The assignment, which asks students to interview each other about their family migration histories and then analyze their partner’s story, requires students to apply course readings to the real-world context of their peers’ experiences. The commentary provides an overview of the assignment and challenges students encountered. I also highlight the lessons learned, both in terms of course content and classroom community. The large public teaching university where I work is a Hispanic-serving institution and is home to around 1,000 undocumented students. Many more students are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Bringing in students’ personal experiences with migration serves to build academic confidence and classroom community among these mostly first-generation students while building connections among students and setting the tone for the course as a whole. It positions students as experts and valuable members of our classroom learning community, while recognizing the importance of their experiences with issues of culture and identity, xenophobia, transnational family-life, immigration enforcement, and immigration status. The assignment also disrupts narrow assimilationist narratives of migration by highlighting the diversity of students’ migration histories.

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