On November 1st, 2016 the students of the “English around the world” profile in year 9 went on a field trip to Bremerhaven to experience an interactive tour at the Auswandererhaus, corresponding to their topic in the lessons: Immigration and Emigration in the USA.
In the lessons we learnt from where the immigrants came, why they left their countries, how they traveled, their destinations and the legal process of entering the U.S.. Beforehand we did a timeline of important events that lead to the forming of the United States of America.
Many came from small, European towns in eastern and southern Europe, like from the countries of Italy, Poland and Russia. Their reasons for leaving were mostly to escape poverty and religious intolerance. The immigrants had to travel by foot, horseback or train for days or weeks to arrive at a seaport, to then go on a very crowded steamship which would take them to the ‘New World’ known as America. The journey across the ocean took them up to twelve weeks. There they could start over and live a happy and free life, but first they had to pass through the immigration center on Ellis Island, in New York.
At the Emigration House we received our own “boarding passes” of once real immigrants and emigrants, a questionnaire and a white, blank iCard. As we went through each room filled with realistic props, we were following the path of our immigrants. There were hearing stations in each room. We had to place our iCards on special panels to hear about our immigrant and what they had to do, how they felt, but sometimes we only heard general information about immigrants and their travels.
Through this interactive tour we learnt a lot, and thanks to the authentic decorations in each room, we got a better view on how things were for the travellers. Being able to see how, for example, the conditions on the ships were and what conditions the immigrants had to live in, were sometimes shocking but always interesting.