Immigrant literature provides opportunities for students


Lauren Beh

Immigrant Literature reads multiple books over the course of a semester to learn about the lives immigrants and the immigrant experience.

At BSM, there has been a continuous cycle of adding new electives and eliminating the less popular choices to keep the curriculum fresh and adapting to new interests. One of the courses that has been added fairly recently is Immigrant Literature.

This course has established a new way for students to gain insight into other cultures inside an English-based course. “We study different immigrant stories and push and pull factors and why different people would want to leave their countries,” senior Michelle Wyley said.

One of the main components of the class for the last month has been the study of a publication that contains stories and journeys throughout the immigration process. “We’ve been reading out of this book of excerpts from autobiographies that tell their immigration stories, and we do seminars on them,” Wyley said.

We learned a lot about Somalia and what was happening in the country to cause people to want to leave or stay.

— Michelle Wyley

The Book of Voices is one way to connect with immigrants, but another is to visit them first hand and see them in person. The class takes an annual field trip to different marketplaces across the Twin Cities and spends the day talking to different people and trying different foods from various cultures. “We went to a Hmong market at first and got lots of different food, and we talked to the different vendors to try and learn about how they came here and if they like it here,” Wyley said.

The next stop on the field trip was the Minnesota History Museum. “There was a presentation on what immigration is, and there was an experiment where they showed us a bunch of suitcases, and we had to figure out who the people were from the contents of the suitcase,” Wyley said.  

The final destination the students visited was the Somali Museum, where they got a tour and were immersed in a different culture’s history. “We learned a lot about Somalia and what was happening in the country to cause people to want to leave or stay,” Wyley said.

The clear favorite aspect of the trip was the food. “[The food] was so good, I had fried rice, egg rolls, this weird pancake thing, and we all got bubble tea which was really good,” Wyley said.