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Educators learn to value immigrant students

Clockwise from top left: Susan Rojas, The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.; Eileen Kugler, Embrace Diverse Schools; Claire Tesh, American Immigration Council; Denzil Mohammed, The ILC Public Education Institute; and Silja Kallenbach, World Education, Inc.

Clockwise from top left: Susan Rojas, The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.; Eileen Kugler, Embrace Diverse Schools; Claire Tesh, American Immigration Council; Denzil Mohammed, The ILC Public Education Institute; and Silja Kallenbach, World Education, Inc.

“It is an amazing resource center, a generator of great ideas, a great sharing tool for educators. Great job and well done!” – Participant

 

Between 2010 and 2030, immigrants and their children will account for 85 percent of net workforce growth, and by 2050 one in three children under the age of 18 will be either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Data and trends on the changing face of America and its evolving classrooms highlight the vital role that K-12 and adult educators play in shaping the future of this country. For this reason, The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) Public Education Institute hosts an annual, free, online workshop, Immigrant Student Success: Models and Tools for K-12 and Adult Educators, for teachers to capitalize on the assets their immigrant students bring to the classroom.

This year’s online workshop was held on July 8 and 9, 2015, and featured 10 experts from across the U.S. discussing the value of immigrant students and offering models and techniques for encouraging immigrant student success for the benefit of the entire classroom. Participants from 29 states actively engaged in the conversation, interacting with the presenters and sharing ideas and resources with their fellow teachers from across the country. According to one participant, “This was excellently organized and moderated. I enjoyed the expertise of all presenters and the ability to share ideas with other attendees. I will definitely refer colleagues to future workshops.”

Led by Director of The ILC Public Education Institute Denzil Mohammed, with support from Assistant Director Chiara Magini and Program Assistant Cho Salma Win, the workshop offered six modules and a panel discussion over two days.

Main takeaways from the online workshop include:

  • Maintain an asset-based perspective of immigrant students that values and builds on the strengths that all students bring with them.
  • There is a need to go beyond the classroom in order to contextualize our immigrant students’ experiences as part of families, cultures and communities.
  • Engage with immigrant students as a part of that bigger picture in order to help enrich the classroom community.
  • The teacher has a key role as facilitator of an inclusive learning experience for all students and facilitator of community-building within and outside of the classroom.

Mohammed opened the first day outlining data and projections on immigrant demographics in America’s Evolving Communities and Classrooms. Dr. Usha Tummala-Narra of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College offered a compelling psychological perspective of immigrant students in Immigrant Identity: Mind and Motivations of Foreign-Born Students, before a self-reflection activity aimed at Developing an Asset-Based Perspective on Immigrant Students, led by Magini. Finally, a discussion on Models that Value Classroom Diversity featured a variety of presenters who shared models and practices to support and value immigrant students in and out of the classroom. Moderated by Silja Kallenbach (World Education, Inc.), panelists included Eileen Kugler (Embrace Diverse Schools), Claire Tesh (Community Education Center at the American Immigration Council) and Susan Rojas (The ILC).

The second day was opened by Sarah Lynn of Pearson ELT with a lecture on Key Elements for Immigrant Student Success, which was followed by two hands-on modules on classroom activities to enhance immigrant student success while providing benefits for the whole classroom. Sara Burnett of the Community Education Center at the American Immigration Council led the first module on Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling while Katie Li of Charlestown High School engaged participants in lesson planning activities for Teaching Language and Content through Projects.

To view workshop presentations and for more information, click here. You can also sign up to be notified of the dates for the next free online workshop.

Valuing immigrant contributions in Salem, MA

Salem community members position themselves on a U.S. Immigration Timeline at The House of the Seven Gables on June 24, 2015.

Salem community members position themselves on a U.S. Immigration Timeline at The House of the Seven Gables on June 24, 2015.

The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) Public Education Institute took the message that “Immigrants are Assets” to Salem, MA, on June 24, 2015. Director Denzil Mohammed and Assistant Director Chiara Magini led the presentation that was the fourth in a series of Immigration Community Conversations hosted by The House of the Seven Gables, a historical site that inspired a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel of the same name.

They started the discussion with a reflection on immigration as a recurrent theme and integral feature of U.S. history. Showing the latest data on immigrant demographics, labor, education and entrepreneurship at the national, state and local levels, the Institute’s team laid the basis for an asset-focused perspective on immigration. Research findings were complemented by immigrant entrepreneurs’ stories, which demonstrated shared values and mutual benefits, and helped positively frame the conversation on immigration. “We want you to walk away with an understanding that immigrants come with the intention of being contributing members of their communities and the data support this,” Mohammed told attendees. “With that understanding, we can have a more balanced conversation on immigration.” Attendees actively participated with questions and comments, sharing valuable insights on the dialogue on immigration in their communities.

Immigration Community Conversations at The House of the Seven Gables continue until October 8, 2015. Click here to learn more.

Bringing asset-based models to the Midwest

Participants at The ILC Public Education Institute’s workshop at the Cambio de Colores Conference on June 12, 2015.

Participants at The ILC Public Education Institute’s workshop at the Cambio de Colores Conference on June 12, 2015.

The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) Public Education Institute led a new workshop at the 14th annual Cambio de Colores (Change of Colors) Conference “Shaping the Future: Leadership for Inclusive Communities” on June 12, 2015, at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Community leaders, policymakers, researchers and practitioners from the Midwest and beyond engaged in 24 sessions over three days. They shared and discussed the latest research and promising practices that support the successful transition of newcomers into the social, economic and cultural fabric of their communities.

Titled “Immigrants as Assets: Framing the Discussion in Policy, Media and the Community,” the Institute’s workshop offered an original model focused on immigrant entrepreneurship that positions immigrants as assets in the public discourse. The Institute’s Director Denzil Mohammed shared the most recent data on immigrant entrepreneurship, from sources including the Fiscal Policy InstituteThe Chicago Council on Global AffairsThe Immigrant Learning Center and the American Immigration Council. This was complemented by stories of local immigrant business owners to show immigrants as indispensable community builders, job creators and leaders of positive change. Mohammed gave compelling examples of different ways to interweave local data, research and stories to show the economic and human impact of immigrants through fact sheets, media stories, business awards and free online strategies such as social media and blogs.

Furnished with these tools and ideas, Assistant Director Chiara Magini guided participants in small groups to craft their own strategies. In so doing, participants walked away with plans of action for a more informed public discourse and greater visibility of immigrant entrepreneurs as crucial components of local economic development.

Click here for the Institute’s resources for talking about immigrants and immigration.

 

An asset-based approach to immigrant adult learners

Participants at The ILC Public Education Institute’s workshop at the NETWORK 2015 Conference on May 15, 2015.

Participants at The ILC Public Education Institute’s workshop at the NETWORK 2015 Conference on May 15, 2015.

More reliable information and an asset-based approach to working with immigrants can help educators in their daily work. At the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education’s NETWORK 2015 Conference on May 15 in Marlborough, MA, The Immigrant Learning Center (ILC), Inc. Public Education Institute team led an interactive workshop on immigrants in the state, their contributions and a model of positioning immigrants as assets using data and stories. Director Denzil Mohammed and Assistant Director Chiara Magini joined 530 attendees at the conference, which in 2014 honored the Institute’s former director Dr. Marcia Drew Hohn as Educator of the Year. Also in attendance were teaching staff from The ILC’s English language, theater, literacy and technology programs.

A full room of conference attendees joined the Institute’s workshop, which offered the latest data on Massachusetts immigration demographics, labor and education, as well as an asset-based model to help educators more positively frame the conversation around immigration. Participants reflected on their own experiences with the immigrants in their communities and classrooms as well as the effects of public dialogue on their role as educators. They also discussed ways to integrate an asset-based perspective into their teaching practices and techniques.

Click here for the Institute’s resources for educators.

Five awarded 2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneurs of the Year

Diane Portnoy, ILC Founder and CEO, stands with 2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year speakers and winners. From left are Dr. J. Keith Motley, Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Boston; Denzil Mohammed, Director, The ILC Public Education Institute; Life Science winner Laxman Desai; Diane Portnoy; High-Tech winner Dries Buytaert; Business Growth winners Thomas and Helene Stohr; Neighborhood Business winner Damaris Pimentel; and Jay Ash, MA Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.

 

Five winners were honored with 2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in front of 250 guests at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, MA, on May 7, 2015.

Governor Charlie Baker opened the cocktail reception expressing his admiration for all the nominees, who decided to look for opportunity in a different country. “That sort of ingenuity, that energy, that faith in tomorrow, that sense of purpose to build a better life for yourself your families and the people you are looking to serve, it’s what makes the world go round,” he said.

Special guest Gov. Charlie Baker addressing the audience  during the cocktail reception.

Special guest Gov. Charlie Baker addresses guests.

This fourth edition of the event brought together members of the state government, economic and community development, banking, media and business sectors to honor and celebrate the valuable contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs to the Commonwealth. Master of ceremonies was Dr. J. Keith Motley, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Diane Portnoy, ILC founder and CEO, praised the nominees’ accomplishments and thanked them for bringing their hands, skills, mind and spirit to the U.S.

Keynote speaker Jay Ash, MA secretary of Housing and Economic Development, highlighted the importance of immigrants as entrepreneurs, workers and taxpayers to local economic development. “Immigrants are making a difference in our budgets by contributing more than $1.8 billion annually in income tax and sales tax here in Massachusetts and contributing nearly $1.4 billion annually in local property taxes,” he said. According to Denzil Mohammed, director of The ILC Public Education Institute, this year’s 33 nominees have started more than 50 businesses, employ nearly 2,000 people and generated income and investment totaling more than one billion dollars.

All nominees received citations from their state and U.S. legislators before the winners were announced:

Business Growth:
Helene and Thomas Stohr
from Switzerland, owners of swissbäkers in Allston and Reading

Neighborhood Business:
Damaris Pimentel from Dominican Republic, owner of Ultra Beauty Salon in Jamaica Plain

High-Tech Business:
Dries Buytaert from Belgium, co-founder and CTO of Acquia in Burlington

Life Science Business:
Laxman Desai from India, founder and CEO of Toxikon Corp. in Bedford

Find out more about the winners below.

Do you know outstanding immigrant entrepreneurs in Massachusetts worthy of recognition? Tell us about them.

 

Click above to watch a video interview with Helene and Thomas Stohr.

Click above to watch a video interview with Helene and Thomas Stohr.

2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year, Business Growth
Helene and Thomas Stohr from Switzerland, owners of swissbäkers in Reading and Alston

Helene and Thomas Stohr founded swissbäkers to bring authentic Swiss fare to New England. Their dedication to simple and locally sourced was a hit with the Swiss community as well as native New Englanders. In nine years, swissbäkers has grown from a home kitchen to a 14,000-square-foot café and commercial bakery.

 

 

 

 

Click above to watch a video interview with Damaris Pimentel.

Click above to watch a video interview with Damaris Pimentel.

2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year, Neighborhood Business
Damaris Pimentel from the Dominican Republic, owner of Ultra Beauty Salon in Jamaica Plain

Damaris Pimentel opened Ultra Beauty Salon in Jamaica Plain in 1982 and has worked on improving her neighborhood for more then 30 years. She mentors other entrepreneurs, provides free haircuts to people in need and sits on the boards of both the Hyde Square Task Force and the Mount Pleasant Home.

 

 

 

 

Click above to watch a video interview with Dries Buytaert.

Click above to watch a video interview with Dries Buytaert.

2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year, High-Tech Business
Dries Buytaert from Belgium, co-founder and CTO of Acquia in Burlington

Dries Buytaert began building Drupal, a free, open-source, website-building platform, at age 19. In 2007, he relocated to Massachusetts to found Acquia, which provides enterprise software like Drupal to create engaging digital experiences. Today it powers one in 40 of the world’s websites.

 

 

 

 

Click above to watch a video interview with Laxman Desai.

Click above to watch a video interview with Laxman Desai.

2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year, Life Science Business
Laxman Desai from India, founder and CEO of Toxikon Corp. in Bedford

In 1977, Dr. Laxman Desai launched Toxikon Corporation, a pre-clinical contract research firm that provides testing for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. In 40 years, he’s built a 25-acre research and training facility in Bedford, expanded his business into four countries and trained more than 15,000 scientists.

 

 

 

Helping adult educators frame the conversation on immigration

 

Participants share ideas on how to position immigrants as assets in their communities during the workshop “Immigrants: Who They Are and What They Contribute” at the COABE 2015 conference on April 23, 2015.

Participants share ideas on how to position immigrants as assets in their communities during the workshop “Immigrants: Who They Are and What They Contribute” at the COABE 2015 conference on April 23, 2015.

 

Denzil Mohammed and Chiara Magini of The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) Public Education Institute led an informative and interactive workshop at the annual Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) Conference on April 23, 2015, in Denver, CO. COABE’s largest conference to date offered the latest research, best practices and professional development to more than 1,800 educators from across the country through 300 sessions in 12 conference strands.

Titled “Immigrants: Who They Are and What They Contribute,” The ILC Public Education Institute’s workshop provided educators with information to better understand their immigrant students as well as research on the contributions immigrants can make with education and skill development. Participants were actively engaged throughout the session. They first placed themselves on a U.S. immigration history timeline and then reflected on their own experiences with the immigrants in their communities and classrooms as well as the effects of the public discourse on immigration on their role as educators.

With the participants’ input, the presenters debunked common myths surrounding U.S. immigration and presented the many different ways in which immigrants are positively impacting their communities through entrepreneurship and innovation, workforce and community participation, and shared American values. Participants were offered an asset-based model that can inform and support their role as educators and help them positively frame the conversation around immigration in their communities.

Click here for the Institute’s resources for educators.

New online workshop offers faith perspectives

 

Denzil Mohammed joins panel discussion with Vanessa Carter, Matthew Soerens, Dr. Patricia Maloof and Leah Bergen, and moderated by Dr. Westy Egmont.

The ILC Public Education Institute Director Denzil Mohammed (bottom right) joins panel discussion with, clockwise from top left, moderator Westy Egmont, Vanessa Carter, Matthew Soerens, Leah Bergen and Patricia Maloof.

Faith organizations have long been at the forefront of integrating immigrants and refugees as well as working with the receiving communities to welcome new Americans. With this in mind, The ILC Public Education Institute hosted a new version of its free online workshop on February 26, 2015. Talking to America about Immigrants and Immigration: Faith Perspectives gathered seven experts from across the U.S. to discuss their pioneering work and lend their expertise to attendees from 33 states.

Led by The ILC Public Education Institute Director Denzil Mohammed, along with Assistant Director Chiara Magini and Program Assistant Cho Salma Win, the workshop broached a variety of topics relevant to the work of the attendees. Mohammed outlined the latest immigration information in “Data, Myths and Facts” before showing how to weave data and stories in “Positioning Immigrants as Assets.” Julie Fisher-Rowe of The Opportunity Agenda offered tips on using stories and values to achieve “Immigration Messaging that Works.” Finally, a panel discussion on “Faith Perspectives on Immigrant Integration: Models and Practices” featured a variety of presenters who each discussed best practices at the local and national levels to integrate immigrants and refugees. Moderated by Westy Egmont (Immigrant Integration Lab, Boston College), panelists included Leah Bergen (HIAS), Vanessa Carter (Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, USC), Patricia Maloof (Catholic Legal Network Immigration Network, Inc. and Catholic University of America), and Matthew Soerens (World Relief and Evangelical Immigration Table).

Main takeaways from the workshop include:

  • Building on platforms of social justice, shared values and the collective impact movement can bring more stakeholders to the table.
  • Values that resonate well with audiences include community participation and contribution, compassion, dignity, family and faith.
  • Southern states are seeing the most striking growth in immigrant populations.
  • Immigrants are revitalizing neighborhoods, creating local jobs and producing innovative technologies in fields from transportation to health care.

Many organizations offered assistance in promoting the free online workshop or providing resources beneficial to the attendees. These included OneAmerica, Catholic Charities, HIAS, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC and Welcoming America.

To view workshop presentations and for more information, click here. You can also sign up to be notified of the dates for the next free online workshop.

Immigrant Struggles, Immigrant Gifts at the Cambridge Forum

Diane Portnoy (right) moderates panel including (left to right) Alex Nowresteh, William Ross and Deborah D. Moore.

Diane Portnoy (right) moderates panel including (left to right) Alex Nowrasteh, William Ross and Deborah D. Moore.

On October, 8, 2014, The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. produced a panel discussion with the Cambridge Forum entitled Immigrant Struggles, Immigrant Gifts after its book by the same name. The discussion used America’s immigration history to bring perspective to today’s immigration issues. Panelists included contributors to the book William G. Ross and Deborah D. Moore as well as policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh.

Immigrant Struggles, Immigrant GiftsDiane Portnoy, founder and CEO of The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc., moderated the panel. She framed the discussion by saying, “Each wave of immigrants, regardless of their native country, religion, ethnicity or skin color, has experienced what immigrants today are experiencing. Yet, they have gone on to make major contributions to the country… . With a greater understanding of our past, my hope is that we strive for a future with fewer struggles and more gifts.”

William G. Ross is the Lucille Stewart Beeson professor of law at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and a contributor to the book. He brought the prospective of one of the largest ethnic groups in America, Germans. Ross explained how Germans today are nearly invisible as an ethnic group but were once a very distinct group that was widely criticized for language, religious and cultural differences in ways that are reminiscent of criticisms leveled at recent waves of immigrant groups.

As a law professor, Ross also brought deep knowledge of America’s immigration legal history. He noted that until the late 19th century, immigration was largely a state-level issue. When the federal government started enacting immigration restrictions, they were discriminatory measures such as the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and the quota system enacted in the 1920’s. That is why Ross equated the 1965 Immigration Act eliminating quotas with the Civil Rights Act in its impact on creating a more just society.

Deborah D. Moore, director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and a Frederick G.L. Huetwell professor of history at the University of Michigan, is also a contributor to the book. She used the long history of Jewish immigration to this country as a case study for the American immigrant experience. Moore also illustrated how Jews have impacted social issues such as education and women’s rights. To explain the importance of immigrants in today’s society she said, “Immigration is integral to shaping our culture. Immigrants continue to bring new ideas and vitality, and they see things natives don’t see.”

Cambridge Forum PanelThe last panelist, Alex Nowrasteh, is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He began by saying that when Ellis Island was a critical entry point for immigrants to the United States it was called the “island of tears” for turning away just two percent of newcomers to this country. In contrast, today’s immigration laws are much more restrictive. For example, there is virtually no way for a low-skilled immigrant without family here to get a green card. He pointed out, “If those rules applied many years ago, most of us would not be here today.” He went on to describe the many economic benefits of immigration and concluded by saying, “It is rare that you get an economic policy change such as allowing more immigration that would be so beneficial to so many people, Americans and immigrants, with such a small cost to everyone involved.”

The audio broadcast will be available on NPR stations nationally through the National Public Radio satellite system. Thanks to WGBH Forum Network, the video of the event in its entirety is available on  YouTube:

Teachers learn tools for ‘immigrant student success’

 

Phitsamay Uy, EdD, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, presents during the free online workshop for educators on July 10, 2014.

Phitsamay Uy, EdD, of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, presents during the free online workshop for educators on July 10, 2014.

As the nation’s classrooms get more diverse, teachers must develop informed and creative approaches to bring out the best in their students. On July 9 and 10, 2014, 170 teachers from 30 states registered for a free online workshop hosted by The ILC Public Education Institute. Over two days, they learned from eight education experts about concepts and techniques that could shape their teaching to promote the success of their immigrant students.

Immigrant Student Success: Models and Tools for K-12 and Adult Educators, the latest edition of The ILC Public Education Institute’s annual workshop for teachers, featured new content and presenters tailored to meet the needs of today’s teachers. Modules such as “Student-Centered Learning,” presented by Barbara Cervone, EdD, founder and president of What Kids Can Do, Inc., and “Promising Educational Practices for Immigrant Students and All Students,” presented by Susan Eaton, PhD, of One Nation Indivisible, were particularly impactful on participants. Click here to view or download workshop materials.

Led by Marcia Drew Hohn, EdD, director of The ILC Public Education Institute, the online workshop featured webinars, video lectures and chat rooms as well as shared documents and resources hosted on a workshop website. The highly interactive nature of the workshop allowed participants from around the country to interact and share with each other and with the presenters, which participants found particularly enriching:

“Professional development webinars are important for invested teachers to learn from others in the field. I try to absorb whatever I can as an educator not only to upgrade my skills but also to become a more reflective teacher and to try more creative ways to connect with my adult immigrant learners. Great job! Thank you so much!”

- Roshii Jolly, NY

Click here to learn more about the free online workshop for educators. You can also view teacher resources.

The workshop is hosted annually in July. Sign up to be informed when details become available for the next workshop.

See blog posts for previous workshops for educators in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

 

First Immigrant Heritage Month celebrated in Massachusetts

Felix G. Arroyo, Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston, address the audience at the Immigrant Heritage Month celebration at the Boston Public Library on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Felix G. Arroyo, Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston, address the audience at the Immigrant Heritage Month celebration at the Boston Public Library on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

 

America owes its economic strength and cultural richness to the diversity of its origins. On Saturday, June 21, 2014, at the Boston Public Library, that diversity was celebrated at an event recognizing the first Immigrant Heritage Month. The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) was pleased to partner with Welcome.us, the city councils of Boston and Cambridge, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians to plan and host this event. Featuring immigrant entrepreneurs Bettina Hein and Saul Perlera, it highlighted the significant contributions immigrants have made to Massachusetts.

Bettina Hein

Bettina Hein

Introduced by Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, Hein made clear her reasons for coming to the U.S. from Germany; she wanted to spread her wings as an entrepreneur.

“I came here because where I come from girls don’t do that,” she said. “At my first university admissions interview they asked me why I wanted to study business and I said, ‘Well, I want to change the world. I want to do social good.’ The interviewer told me, ‘Missy, if you want to do that you should become a nurse,’ which shows you the picture of females that is still prevalent in that country.”

Hein would eventually found two companies, one of which is Pixability, Inc. in Boston’s North End.

Saul Perlera

Saul Perlera

Echoing Hein’s sentiments of America as a land of opportunity, Perlera spoke of his journey from El Salvador to Boston. “When I moved here I worked three jobs, I spoke no English and all I had were the clothes on my body,” he said. Over time, however, Perlera was able to learn not only English but also Italian and Portuguese. This skill eventually helped him to start his own firm, Perlera Real Estate, in the diverse East Boston area. “The United States is the only country where my story could be possible,” he said.

Also speaking at the event were Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston Felix G. Arroyo and Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. Performers included six-year-old ranchera singer Josue Giron and flutist Tito Lugo. Click here to learn more about Immigrant Heritage Month.

View photos of the event on Flickr.

The Immigrant Learning Center, 442 Main Street, Malden, Massachusetts, 02148     (781) 322-9777

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