By Isha Trivedi '19
As a part of a class-wide cross curricular study of the timeline of American immigration, the entire junior class participated in a field trip on September 20th and 21st to Angel Island, located near San Francisco. Now a California State Park, Angel Island served as a “holding place” in the early 1900s for primarily Chinese immigrants after strict immigration laws severely restricted them from entering the United States. The barracks were originally intended to be torn down, but a park ranger sent to scope out the area discovered countless poems carved into the walls by the immigrants. The translation and analysis of these poems confirmed that they were much too valuable to tear down and the station was turned into a state park.
Students were able to see the immigration station, the barracks that immigrants were detained in (including the poetry), and the courtyard for the entire station. After enjoying the scenery on the one mile walk to the immigration station, students participated in rotations: one to explore the United States’ history with immigration with the help of a Facing History & Ourselves representative, another to explore the barracks, and another to reflect on the architecture and redesigned modern aspects of the courtyard.
The beautiful San Francisco bay stood in stark contrast to the mistreatment of immigrants at the station. Students were able to draw conclusions on the importance of the study of immigration, especially considering how important it has recently become in politics. This was also a wonderful opportunity for students to bond and a memorable and long-lasting experience for the junior class as a whole.