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Ellis Island Simulation

Ellis Island Simulation

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Ellis Island Simulation

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  1. Ellis Island Simulation A SIMULATION involves role playing. You will be playing the role of an immigrant, coming to America from a foreign country in Europe in the year 1900. What you need to know to have a memorable time and get a good grade. Background Needed preparations What to expect that day

  2. Background • From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor. • They came by ship. That was the method of transportation at that time.

  3. Many, if not most, came with their immediate family, i.e., Father, mother, son, and daughter • They often left the remainder of their families back in the “old country” • Some came by themselves, carrying everything they owned, in one or two suitcases

  4. European Emigration to the U.S. 1891 - 1900 Note the larger group during this 10-year period is coming from Austria, Germany, and Italy due to extreme poverty

  5. European Emigration to the U.S. 1901 - 1910 April 17, 1907, Ellis Island's busiest day in history with 11,747 immigrants processed at the receiving station Now, note that the numbers have increased drastically from Russia, Austria, and Italy due to the anti-Semitic violence in Russia driving millions of Jews out of the Russian Empire. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, people emigrated to escape army conscription and ethnic tensions. Conscription where they would be forced to fight against their own people due to boundary changes.

  6. Causes of immigration – • Know WHY you and your family left the “old country” • Know the entire story • Be consistent. Make sure everyone in your family knows the story, the same story

  7. Background • In your role playing, the year you go through Ellis Island is 1900 • This is IMPORTANT to know because you will be asked your age and your date of birth. You don’t want to appear that you are lying or crazy! There are consequences…

  8. Needed Preparations • Research your country. Learn about your country’s customs and culture with emphasis on the year 1900 • Use books at the library and World Book On-line, Culture Grams, and our databases • Learn how to say, “Hello” and “Goodbye” in your native language so you can properly greet people during the simulation. You will be expected to know this. Also, know the customary gestures of greetings

  9. You must make a passport from your native country and bring it with you that day • Get your picture taken for your passport during class time. A serious expression is required. Students will only have one photo taken. Laughing or a poor photograph will have consequences…. • Male heads of the family are required to have facial hair. We will provide make-up for facial hair, i.e., beards, etc.

  10. Needed Preparations • Costumes required!! No exceptions. No costume = no points • When doing research, make note of what people wore. Girls: Boys: • Floor-length skirt • Simple blouse w/ no images or writing • Babushka, hat, or scarf • Dress pants such as Dickies. (If you must wear jeans, dark, black denim, please.) • Button up solid dress shirt, long or short sleeve • TIE (Please learn to tie the tie before you come as it will help speed your entry to the “boat”.)

  11. Optional Accessories • Boys • Hats are great for men • Vests • Suit coats • Overcoats • Girls • Fake furs • Jewelry (if you are wealthy) • Dolls • ALL • Props related to your profession, i.e., Baker = baked goods, Wine Maker = Grapes • Travel props, i.e., Suitcase, luggage, umbrella • Note: Boys may NOT cross-dress. Girls may cross-dress, but there needs to be a reason. Do your research, girls! • NO WEAPONS of any kind! • NO alcohol bottles, empty or full

  12. Needed Preparations • Costume must be worn to school, or something simple to get into by pulling on over your regular clothes • Suggested sources of costumes • Thrift store • Borrowing from family or friends. If you’re desperate, there are some pieces of costumes available at school, but are limited and might not be available by the time you get there. Do not take a chance Bring your own costume!

  13. RESEARCH. You may bring play money…make sure you know what would be the appropriate amount. • Too little, or too much? • NOTE: you may not get your money back, so do not bring any that you have to have returned, i.e., From a game, etc.

  14. What to expect that day • Report to the MPR to leave your backpack and check in with your teacher for attendance • Go to the Staff Lounge, next to the MPR, to put on your costume, including facial hair/make-up

  15. What to expect that day • As you exit the south door of the staff lounge, make sure you get a number and that it can be seen as it hangs from around your neck • Then board the “boat” • Watch for the chalked outlines on the asphalt. It will show where the gang plank is and where the water is. Do not walk on the water!

  16. Your first test will be when the staff looks you over. Anyone not wearing an appropriate costume will have to return to the staff lounge to add clothing. • Once the boat is filled, Ellis Island staff members will greet you. They may be rude to you. The lines will be long waiting for your initial medical examination. • There are two doctors. You need to greet them in your native language. They do speak a number of languages and will expect to hear you speak your native language. (test #2). It was common for recent immigrants to work at Ellis Island and many spoke with an accent. Remember, people usually came to Ellis Island not speaking the language of those interviewing them. This may happen to you.

  17. If you have an illness assigned to you from your class, it must be written on your passport so the doctors can give you the appropriate treatment. You may face quarantine.

  18. If and when you successfully pass your medical exam . . . a.) Proceed to the room with tables b.) Wait for your number to be called by the Immigration Examiners, who will interview you. Note: If one member of your group is called up, everyone in your “family” must approach the examiner together. “Officials” will not know who is with which family. Stay together as a family.

  19. If any of you are detained for any reason, you must wait for your family members. Do not leave Ellis Island and leave your poor papa or auntie behind! You are a family.

  20. Answer questions from the examiners, and if you are successful, they will stamp your passport. • Then walk towards the Statue of Liberty, and exit the building to board the ferries to Manhattan, NY. (In our simulation, this means you leave the library and return to the MPR.)

  21. At the MPR, you will return your number and any costumes that you borrowed. For certain “passengers”, you may receive a prize. The prize is for students who attended the Brown Bag presentation on Ellis Island. • You will then take a modern day citizenship test. • If you are successful, you will be sworn in as a US citizen and the simulation will be complete. • Remember: Only about 2% of the immigrants who came through Ellis Island were denied entry to the United States. Make sure you are one of the 98% who make it through!

  22. Final Points • Remember the people who came through Ellis Island were fighting for their very lives. Most gave up everything they had to gain the freedoms that were available in the United States. • You are fighting for a grade. This is a role playing activity to give you as much of the Ellis Island experience as we can give you today. We will make this as difficult as possible within historical accuracy. Government officials will very likely be rude to you, known only as a number and not a person. • You are playing a role. If you speak with a made up accent, stay in character. Use the native language, the more the better. We want the time to be as realistic to everyone as possible.

  23. Put effort into your Ellis Island experience • History repeats itself. In your research you will see that we have immigrants today; immigrants who, like our ancestors, will make our country greater for being here. • We want to appreciate their contributions and respect their desires and struggles to become US citizens.

  24. Cited Sources Destination America. 10 April 2009. <>Educational Broadcasting System. 2005. Highly-skilled immigrants still seen as a need. 21 May 2007 <>American Public Media. 2009. Southpeak Interactive, LLC. The Ellis Island Experience.