Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Faith In Action: Families Far And Near

Part of Families

Activity time: 60 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Index cards and pens
  • Snacks (optional)

Preparation for Activity

  • Contact a local college that has an international school or an organization that works with recent immigrants, and ask for individuals who might be willing to be interviewed about their travels to the United States. You will need someone who is either proficient in speaking English or can be accompanied by an interpreter.
  • If the above source is not an option, contact the minister or religious educator to find out who may be a first-generation American in your congregation.
  • For either option, at least two weeks ahead of time, arrange a time and place for the individual to meet with the youth. If the individual can come to the session, that would be ideal.

Description of Activity

Share with participants that families are not always the people with whom you live. Sometimes family members are far away. Invite participants to reflect on the experiences of immigrants. Inform them that they will have the opportunity to interview someone who immigrated to the United States - whether permanently or for short-term educational purposes. Give them any information they will need about the interviewee. Inform youth before the meeting if the person has an accent or does not speak English. If needed, talk about ways to be hospitable to the interviewee so the experience will be pleasant for all involved.

Help youth generate questions they would like to ask. Write the questions on index cards and give one card to every youth who wants to ask a question.

Possible questions include:

  • Where were you born?
  • In what other countries have you lived?
  • What would you like us to know about your family?
  • What was your journey to the United States like?
  • Did you bring family members with you?
  • If you have family in another country, how do you stay in touch?
  • What are some of your favorite memories of time spent with your family in your birth country?

If the interviewee is attending the session, invite the individual in and introduce him/her to the group. If you are meeting at another location, remind youth to bring their questions. Consider creating a back-up copy of the questions to have on hand in case any youth lose their cards.

Including All Participants

Be aware of any participant who is an immigrant or the child of a recent immigrant and how this activity might affect that youth. If you are not certain about a youth's status, ask your religious educator or the participant's family. If you are unsure of how this activity might affect such a participant, skip the activity.