Students Discover Immigration History Through Field Trips and Virtual Visits

More than a million people began their American journey at Angel Island. Their stories are a part of our collective American story, one that recognizes both the struggles and triumphs in our ongoing quest to realize the ideals set forward in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. As a result, it is no surprise that immigration is a topic specifically outlined for instruction in California for grades four, five, eight and eleven. Our knowledge of our immigrant past and our ability to apply historical knowledge to contemporary times is an essential part of the civic duty we all share.

More than 6,000 students and their supporters have visited the Immigration Station since the beginning of the school year last fall. Nearly half of those were able to take a ferry ride to the island and hike to the site for a special visit. The vast majority of the nearly 200 schools that visit in person do so with a guided tour given by State Parks interpretive staff or volunteer docents who make the story come alive.

AIISF is pleased to have been able to support field trip costs for 400 students during the 2018-2019 school year, thanks to the generosity of AIISF donors at last year’s annual gala.

In addition to those who visited in person, more than 3,000 students made a virtual field trip this year through California State Parks’ PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers & Students) program. The Immigration Station PORTS program was originally made possible with the support of AIISF, and the organization continues to support ongoing technology and equipment costs. PORTS has made a visit to the Immigration Station possible for more than 12,800 students since the program began, visits that would have otherwise been impossible due to physical distance.

Understanding immigration is not just historical, but also intensely personal for many students. Today, more than a quarter of all immigrants in the nation, or 11 million people, reside in California and half of all California children have at least one immigrant parent. A visit to the Immigration Station creates a relevant connection for many students.

Do you know a teacher whose students would like to visit the Immigration Station? Visit here for more information on field trips, including scholarship support, and the PORTS program.

Russell Nauman