Why Did you Emigrate, Friend?: A Spanish III Project

Spanish III students delve into the conditions in Central America and Mexico that drive emigration.
What drives immigrants to assume the risks of an illegal border crossing? 

There is not one answer but many, as the students in Mr. Sánchez’s Spanish III class recently learned. 

By the third year of language study at Thacher, classes focus on the literature and culture of countries where the language is spoken. For the Why Did You Emigrate, Friend? assignment, Mr. Sánchez asked his students to investigate the economic, social, cultural, and environmental conditions that push Central American and Mexican migrants to leave their countries and embark on the dangerous journey to the United States. 

The students addressed three questions: “What was the situation immigrants faced in their country that made them decide to take such a risk? Were there no other options available? What did they leave behind?”

After researching individual migrant stories, students composed moving first-person narratives in Spanish that described the circumstances and motivations behind border-crossing attempts that proved fatal. They presented their work by creating a model of the border region populated with crosses naming the fallen migrants. The written narratives were displayed nearby.

“The students' level of fluency and the scaffolding of the project allowed them to build a complex understanding and tremendous empathy for the subjects they studied,” said Director of Studies Tracy Miller about the project. “They worked hard to create a moment of community education and reflection—always a good thing!”

Photo credit: Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com

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