In our work with immigrant-origin youth, families and their teachers, we have come to put a premium on “moving stories”—i.e., the stories of movement and change that permeate migration as our shared human experience. Arguably, telling, sharing and remembering family stories is essential for healthy, secure and adaptive child development as well as in the construction of more inclusive learning environments and societies. By engaging in “moving stories,” we interrupt the cycle of silence, celebrating everyday family stories of migration. By exploring family narratives of life before or during migration, we are planting seeds for students to learn about themselves and their families, enriching their linguistic, cultural and family belonging. Recognizing and exploring these narratives is a fundamental tool for helping students better understand and communicate with their families. And by sharing these stories with peers and teachers who respectfully and carefully listen in and validate experiences, students may feel more visible and connected to one another.
In short, then, engaging in the exchange of Moving Stories has the potential to:
- Provide spaces for mutual understanding—children of their family members; teachers of their students and their families; and peers of one another;
- Increase self-awareness as well as empathy and understanding the perspective of others;
- Nurture family relationships and story-sharing habits among children and family members in immigrant-origin communities;
- Celebrate and ensure the sharing of cultural values, languages, traditions, wisdom and shared experiences that serve to deepen family bonds, cultural roots and positive identity;
- Empower children and youth to share their family stories and express them through multiple languages at their disposal with their peers and educators; and
- Promote English and first-language literacy practices by practicing and engaging in storytelling.
We have developed a series of questions with which students can explore with one another narratives of migration in a thoughtful, scaffolded manner (see the Moving Stories Guide). In partnership with Re-Imagining Migration, Moving Stories has been piloted across the country and teachers and students are reporting positive experiences with enhanced insights, positive engagement, and improved classroom relations. During the academic year 2022-23, the curriculum will be expanded and offered across the New York Department of Public Education.
We have established a series of practices designed to scaffold students through conversations with their families and peers to learn and reflect on migration. See the Moving Stories Guide for sample questions and detailed guidelines.