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The Second Generation: Cultural Continuity Versus Americanization
Overview
The narrative Haitian Immigration: Twentieth Century: echoes the familiar immigrant theme of generational differences with immigrants and their children, as the latter struggle between cultural continuity and the strong societal impetus to Americanize. The lesson The Second Generation asks students to compare and contrast the Haitian experience with those of earlier immigrants through film, song, or literature describing the experiences of migrants to the cities of the United States.
Grade Levels:High school, grades 9-12
For use with:Haitian Immigration: Twentieth Century
Concentration Area:History
Concentration Area:Social Studies
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • The challenges diverse people encountered in the late nineteenth century American society (e.g., the role of new laws and the federal judiciary in instituting racial inequality; arguments and methods by which various minority groups sought to acquire equal rights and opportunities; experiences of African American families who migrated from the South to New York City in the 1890s).
  • How racial and ethnic events influenced America during the Progressive Era.
  • Influences on urban life in America during the 1920s.
  • The background and experiences of immigrants of the late nineteenth century.
Time required
One 50-minute class period if students complete reading assignments outside of class
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Either play the song "The Other Generation" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical comedy, "Flower Drum Song", or provide the lyrics. Print out the lyrics from this site, http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/flowerdrumsong/theothergeneration.htm. Set the play into the context of the conflict between first- and second-generation, Chinese-American immigrants. Discuss what the conflicts between the generations seem to be in the song.
  2. Ask students to read the narrative Haitian Immigration :Twentieth Century, focusing on the segment "Family Life and the Second Generation." Discuss the different ways that Phede and Herve dealt with the stresses of being part of the "second generation."
  3. Compare and contrast, with students, the fictional issues about the generation gap raised in "Flower Drum Song" with the real generation gap issues facing Haitian Americans. Discuss these issues:

    1. In what ways were the problems faced by the Chinese and Haitians similar?
    2. In what ways were they different?
    3. How much was a result of immigrant status as opposed to the usual gap between the generations?
Procedures

  1. Ask students to research the generation gap among immigrants either in news reports or as expressed through music, drama, or literature. Students should read, watch, listen, or research to find out how immigrants' feelings were expressed in fiction and nonfiction, as well as through music.
  2. Some examples of possible areas or topics of research include:

    1. Second-generation performers: Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Stephen Foster, Linda Ronstadt.
    2. Second-generation songs: "My Yiddishe Momme," "Calypso Blues," selections from "Canciones De Mi Padres."
    3. Movies or stage shows about the generation conflict: The Jazz Singer, Flower Drum Song, West Side Story, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I Remember Mama.
    4. Genres of music that were shaped by immigrants: Klezmer, Bluegrass, Fusion, Swing, Jazz, Latino (Tejano, Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia).
    5. Books: Songs My Mother Taught Me by Wakako Yamauchi; Christ in Concrete by Pietro di Donato.
  3. Ask students to write a summary of how the story, song, biography, or article relates to the generation gap between first- and second-generation immigrants. They should address these questions:

    1. What group of immigrants is featured?
    2. What were some of the feelings and experiences of the first generation?
    3. What were some of the feelings and experiences of the second generation?
    4. What issues put parents and children into conflict? Why? How did they resolve it, or did they fail to resolve the conflict?
Assessment

1. Ask students to select one of the following activities:

  • Adapt the lyrics to "The Other Generation" to reflect the Haitian experience.
  • Convert the experience of second-generation Haitian Americans into a dramatic skit.
  • Write a paragraph or composition formally comparing the experiences of the second-generation Haitian immigrants with the immigrants they studied.

2. Lyrics or Dramatic Skit Evaluation: You can evaluate on a 20-point scale (which may be multiplied by 5 to convert to a 100-point scale or to letter grades) using the following rubric:

Grading Element/Total Points Excellent Good Fair Not Satisfactory No Work
Written Assignment's Historical Comprehension (5) (5) Demonstrates excellent:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • (4) Demonstrates good:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • (3-2) Shows fair:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • (1) Shows little:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • (0)
    Written Assignment's Technical Writing Skills (5) (5) Shows excellent:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • (4) Shows good:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • (3-2) Shows adequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • (1) Shows inadequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • (0)
    Written Assignment's Felicity of Style and Presentation (10) (10) Composition:

  • Engages reader
  • Shows high originality
  • Shows empathy with historical figures
  • Is visually interesting (if applies)
  • (9-8) Composition is above average in:

  • Engaging reader
  • Showing originality
  • Showing empathy with historical figures
  • Being visually interesting (if applies)
  • (7-5) Composition is adequate in:

  • Holding reader interest
  • Showing originality
  • Showing empathy with historical figures
  • Being visually interesting (if applies)
  • (4-1) Composition demonstrates attempt to fulfill assignment with little or no success (0)

    3. Formal Paragraph or Composition Evaluation: You can evaluate on a 20-point scale (which may be multiplied by 5 to convert to a 100-point scale or to letter grades) using the following rubric:

    Grading Element/Total Points Excellent (10) Good (9-8) Fair (7-6) Not Satisfactory (5-1) No Work (0)
    Written Assignment's Historical Comprehension (10) Demonstrates excellent:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Demonstrates good:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Shows fair:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Shows little:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Command of facts
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • No work
    Written Assignment's Technical Writing Skills (10) Shows excellent:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows good:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows adequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows inadequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • No work

    Related Works

    • The Schomburg Center has numerous images of African Americans in urban settings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visit the online exhibit, Harlem 1900-1940: An African-American Community, accessible at: http://www.si.umich.edu/CHICO/Harlem/index.html. The exhibition includes a timeline, teacher materials, and a resource list.
    • Further images of urban communities may be found online at the Mid-Manhattan Library Picture Collection featuring 30,000 pre-1923 images from books, magazines, newspapers, prints, postcards, and photographs at: http://digital.nypl.org/mmpco/.
    • The Library of Congress' American Memory Collection features over seven million online digital documents. American Memory's homepage is http://memory.loc.gov/ and contains many famous images of immigrants at Ellis and Angel Islands.
    Interdisciplinary Links

    • Foreign Language: Because Haiti was a colony of France prior to its independence, most documents must be translated from French to English. Students may collaborate with the French teacher to translate the banking document at: http://www.nypl.org/research/sc/WEBEXHIB/legacy/imgtxt7.htm.
    • Sociology: As part of their studies of the migrant and immigrant experience, students will look at continuity and change down the generations from the original immigrants. Students will examine the role of the following in perpetuating cultural heritage: language, religion, food, traditional songs and dances, and distinctions in the roles of men and women. Students also may wish to look more closely at the Haitian example or look at other recent immigrants or immigrants from an earlier era (Chinese, Greeks, European Jews, Italians, Irish, Germans, Scandinavians). Alternately, they may wish to analyze the conflicts and compromises between the generations in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
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