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Immigration guest speakersFrom the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock to Europeans entering through Ellis Island, millions of people have traveled great distances in search of the American dream. Fourth graders at Red Mill Elementary School learned about immigration in social studies last month, and in an effort to bring that curriculum to life, the school hosted five immigrants on Friday to discuss their experiences.

Two of the speakers are current Columbia High School students who were born in Pakistan – junior Zeshma Sadiq and sophomore Mah Rukh. They talked about the arduous process of getting a visa, which took years to complete with the required paperwork, medical exams and interviews.

They sat in the front of the classroom, discussing their families, friends and schools in Pakistan and the challenges they faced with learning a new language and culture in the United States.

The other guest speakers included Muriel from Puerto Rico, Jiang from China and Minjin, who video chatted from her home in South Korea.

Students asked questions about their travel to America and the similarities and differences from their homelands.

“Exposing our students to real life immigrants made the experience of Ellis Island more authentic, and opened their eyes up to a community that is diverse and rich with culture,” said fourth grade teacher Lisa Mahar. “It also showed our students how we must accept each other’s differences, and learn from one another to make our community a better place.”