Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Trip to Ellis Island

I had the pleasure of being one of the chaperones on my son's class trip to Ellis Island. The sixth graders had been studying immigration and Ellis Island in Social Studies class and in Language Arts class through the novel Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch.

I had been to there many, many years ago (and well before my interest in genealogy) and even though we don't have any ancestors who came through Ellis Island, I was excited for the trip. We left the school very early so that we could be on the first ferry. There were about 160 students and I had 7 boys in my group. As the ferry docked at Ellis Island, we were given a small glimpse of what it was like to arrive there (and more so as we stood in a crowded line in the rain for a return ferry!).

It was clear that the boys had been studying Ellis Island for some time and knew about most of what we saw. We all enjoyed seeing the "treasures from home" and those items that were brought from their homeland. The medical instruments were a bit frightening and they had fun answering some of the Citizenship test questions. We were all impressed by the graffiti left on the walls - names from over 100 years ago.

While not all of the boys were very excited about all of the displays, they all enjoyed our stop in the library (surprising, right?). I paid the $5 for 30 minutes on the computer and they all took a turn looking up their ancestors. Some were even texting their parents to get the names or spellings so they could search for them. It was clear that finding someone related to them was the most exciting part of the day. My son took home the names and is planning to finish searching for them (he is my budding genealogist). It was a tiring but fun day! I am glad that we live so close to Ellis Island and that our children can see and experience what immigration was like for so many people during that time.

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