A Report on "New
Research Project: Making Schools Better Places for Newcomers
This collaborative project,
designed by Project Orillas (in collaboration with I*EARN-Orillas, and
the Discovery Promised Land Learning Community), asked young people (elementary
through high school) to explore and analyze what it's like to move to
a new place.
The goal of the "New Places"
project was to apply research to form suggestions on how schools can be
better for new students. The research tasks included:
- Asking an older person
in their community about a love to a new town or a new school when
they were, young, discussing:
- what hopes they held
for the new place or school (before the change),
- what the reality was
like (after the change), and
- who or what helped
them get through the change.
- Reflecting and reporting
on their own experiences moving or asking these questions of a schoolmate
or friend who has moved to a new place or a new school.
- Bringing their research
together with that of others in their class and school, publishing
it, and beginning a discussion of what steps could be taken to make
their school better for newcomers.
Countries participating in the project included: the U.S., Puerto
Rico, Argentina, South Africa, China, and Australia. This project
builds on Orillas' longstanding interest in researching issues related
to migration and circular migration.
Selected Student Writing from the New Places Project
We are an ESL Classroom at Channel Islands High, in Oxnard, California-Mexican
and Filipino immigrant students that live in this new place from 2-3
years. We're all struggling to learn the English language.
What We Hoped and Dreamed
Easy lifestyle, freedom, the quality of life better than our own country,
opportunity for work, college, and university; equal rights for all
What our New Place was Really Like
Violent, racist, discrimination, low paying jobs for our parents,
very expensive to live, crime and drugs, gangs that kill, difficult
to survive in school, my people don't have equal rights, Prop. 187
is frightening, we Mexican women are pressured to move on and get
married because our parents can't afford to support us...
Make our New Place Better
- Students for Cultural and Linguistic Democracy, a student activist
group, and Mr. Terrazas took many risks to establish the following
historical events to make our new place better and more just and
equal for all immigrants and oppressed students and parents.
- Bilingual and Migrant Program: We did not develop this program,
but it sure supports and teaches us English and academics in our
native Language. Our bilingual program teachers are excellent
with lots of love and sensitivity related to a bicultural existence.
- Bilingual and Migrant Open House: This is ours! This is totally
student centered and directed. We Voice with power, dance, sing,
role play problem posing issues, educate our parents, and rise
the political, social, and economics consciousness of our people
and community. This is really our welcome place and we are proud
of it. Our 9th year!
- Students Voicing at Teacher and Community Conferences: Students
for Cultural and Linguistic Democracy have been going to and planning
conferences since 1992. We've just worked hard to organize our
district's first Educating Our Raza Awareness Conference, which
will involve over 350 students and parents.
- Students and Teachers Co-authoring a Book: Our students and
our teacher have just co-authored a book called Reclaiming Our
Voices: Bilingual Education and Critical Pedagogy & Praxis. This
book tells about real struggles and experiences immigrant students
go through in new places.
- Project Orillas: Sharing and caring with students from other
places has made us understand that we are not alone in our struggles.
We have learned a lot by just listening to each other over telephone
voice box, computer modem, and telephone video. Orillas has introduced
us to communication technology at it's highest form.
We hope our research will make better, just, and safe NEW PLACES
for all students.
Guillermo Terrazas and English 103 E.S.L. I st and 2nd Period