Appendix II: Teaching this book

This is a list of resources created by instructors have used this material in their courses.  Please help it grow by email me assignments, discussion questions, or other activities at

This is a library resource guide created to help students research the history and culture of particular stories:

One big project that I love to see is a class-sourced index.

Short assignment ideas:

  • Research what US immigration policies were in place in the year that this person arrived.  (Pay attention to how it was different for different countries of origin and/or refugee and asylum status.) Write an explanation of the immigration laws that are most central to this person’s story.
  • Research and explain the type of status or visa that the person currently has or formerly had.
  • What is the history of the relationship between the United States and this country? How has it changed over time? How has it impacted the country?
  • Find a map of the country and pinpoint exactly where your narrator is from. Write a description of relevant geographic features, borders, ethnic and/or religious groups and other demographics you think are important.

Some questions for discussion or written reflections:

  • Does immigration play any role in your own family’s history?  What do you know about it?
  • What is the difference between the following types of legal status?  Make a chart to explain: undocumented, asylum-seeker, refugee, temporary protected status, permanent resident, and naturalized citizen?
  • Why do some narrators choose to become U.S. citizens and some do not? What are the benefits and detriments?  Give examples.
  • What is the range of experiences the narrators have had with xenophobia and/or racism? Give examples
  • What roles do gender and/or sexual orientation play in the lives of immigrants? How might their life have been different if they had been of a different gender and/or sexual orientation? What role does marriage play?
  • How does wealth affect immigration?  Give examples of people from different class backgrounds and how access to money shaped their experiences.
  • Give examples of three personal reasons why narrators chose to immigrate.  (e.g. family unification)
  • Give examples of three structural reasons the caused narrators to immigrate. (e.g. poverty)