Thursday, May 8, 2014

SOC 149 in the News!

The Campanil
Sociology of Immigration works with Angel Island Foundation
By Alexina Estrada April 28, 2014

Mills College sociology major Caitlin McWilliams works at a tire shop, and never expected she would be interviewing a customer about immigration to America. From a short conversation about tax returns and how to spend them, McWilliams learned that one of her regular customers, Tina, hadn’t been to her home country, Indonesia, since arriving in America. A few weeks later, McWilliams sat down and spent 3 hours listening to Tina’s journey and struggles for life in America.

McWilliams is one of the students in Mills College Sociology of Immigration class this semester, taught by Margaret Hunter. The oral history project, where students interview someone who immigrated to the United States as an adult, is a requirement for the class. The students conduct an interview for an hour and then write a 1,000-1,200 word essay telling the interviewee’s story. The essay must include sociological research to magnify the interviewee’s story as part of a bigger picture of immigration. 

“Initially, I wanted students to be able to use their ‘sociological imaginations’ to connect one person’s real life experience with the larger social trends of immigration to the U.S.,” Hunter said. “This helps make the larger social patterns meaningful.”

The project is a larger collaboration with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF), which will be posting the essays on it’s website. AIISF works to help better inform the public about immigration, specifically on the Pacific Coast, so society can understand what immigration means for America, our lives and community.

“These stories will be used to build educational programs for the public,” said Michael McKechnie, Executive Director of AIISF. “These stories convey the true immigration experience.”
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