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In a compilation of essays, immigrant students tell their stories

Jes Kruse, an English as a second language teacher at a Brooklyn high school, wanted to boost her students’ “fluency” — their ability to read and write accurately, quickly, and with comprehension.

So she turned to the topic her students know best: themselves. Students wrote personal essays, many drawing on the disasters or conflicts that led them to the United States. Then they read the essays aloud to senior citizens living in a local retirement home and wrote “reflection” papers about their conversations.

Kruse has shared some of the essays and reflections today in the GothamSchools Community section. Here’s a taste of what Emmanuelle Desmourses, an immigrant from Haiti, wrote in her reflection:

While I was at the nursing home I read aloud and asked” does my story affect your life”? One of them said, yes your story affected my life because when you finished reading it I felt so much pain about the event that happened to you. After I heard it I felt like it was me who was there during the earthquake. I asked one questions again “how did my story change your life? One of them answered me, yes your story change my life because after you read to us your story and you say how this moment was struggled for you and how you have courage to survive after that.

Kruse’s students will be reading aloud from their personal stories at the Crown Heights Library on Tuesday. They are also selling copies of a book of their essays, ”Stories That Changed Us Forever.” Proceeds from book sales will go into a scholarship fund for the students who worked on the project.

We love featuring students’ work. Let us know if you have students whose work deserves a wider audience.

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