Immigrant Experiences: From Ellis Island to Staten Island

Students interview their science teacher, Christopher Chieh
CSIHSIS students Gerald Lara and Bernard Jones interview science teacher Christopher Chieh

video image from CSIHSIS

What might today’s immigrants have in common with immigrants who came through Ellis Island years ago?

In the spring of 2008, juniors at the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies (CSIHSIS) considered that question. Students conducted oral history interviews with immigrants who came to Staten Island from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. Students discovered that today's immigrants shared many dreams with earlier immigrants who passed through Ellis Island.

Watch as these immigrants share their personal experiences about their journeys to America and their lives once they arrived. NOTE: These videos are uncompressed MPEG files. For best viewing, we recommend that you right-click the files and download them to your computer first.

  • Christopher Chieh speaks about coming to the U.S. as a refugee after escaping civil war in his native Liberia. (5:33 min.)
  • Debbie Goon recalls how her parents struggled to bring their ten children from Hong Kong to this country. (6:44 min.)
  • Jisu Kim contrasts how traditonal Korean culture and U.S. culture each measure a person's worth. (4:52 min.)
  • Margaret Kubasczyk recalls her Polish family's narrow escape from Nazi German soldiers in World War II. (5:19 min.)
  • Evelyn Kwakye compares the oppotunities in the U.S. with the community values and "soul" of her native Ghana. (4:04 min.)
  • Marzana Sulima remembers hundreds of people standing in line to get visas to move to the U.S. in the 1980s. (4:27 min.)
  • Yan Tian considers how higher education in the U.S. promotes individuality, as compared to college in his native China. (5:02 min.)

The National Parks of New York Harbor Education Center created the year-long project, bringing together several partners: CSIHSIS, Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, Save Ellis Island and the College of Staten Island. This project was made possible thanks to a Save Our History™ grant from the History Channel. Save Our History™ grants fund projects where students preserve endangered aspects of local history.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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