In I Learn America, five resilient immigrant teenagers come together at the International High School at Lafayette and struggle to learn their new land.. The International High School is a New York City public school dedicated to serving newly arrived immigrant teenagers, with more than 300 students speaking two-dozen languages from 50 countries.. Meet the students:. SING is a refugee from Myanmar who has recently relocated to Brooklyn, leaving his family behind. He is isolated, angry and barely speaks English. Will he accept the help of his English teacher?. BRANDON made the journey from Guatemala to America to reunite with his mother after ten years apart. Crossing the desert and making the perilous journey was easy compared to getting to know his mom again. Will he be able to meet her expectations to do well in America?. SANDRA (17, Poland) is a tomboy, a class leader and she's also undocumented. She and JENNIFFER, a sassy classmate from the Dominican Republic, are inseparable best friends - “like a flower with water.” Sandra has grown confident in identifying as a girl who dresses as a boy, but as she faces graduation, she fears that being undocumented means she will lose all they have been able to gain once they leave the security of the school.. ITRAT came to America from Pakistan to join her father, a traditional Shia Muslim. She barely knew him after the passing of her mother. What kind of future is waiting for her in America? Will she return to Pakistan to marry or will she go to college and build her independence?. Over a school year, amidst the complexity and diversity of American life in and out of school, through Itrat, Sandra, jenniffer, Brandon and Sing, we “learn America.”
The essays in this book, like all other texts, have been written in a historical context that shapes both the themes and the prose styles of the authors. A close reading of these texts would in fact lead to many overlapping contexts of politics, social hierarchies, modern communications, and international relations, but we want to focus briefly on two contextual influences that carry the most obvious connections to this book: the wide-ranging public debate about the proper curriculum for American schools and universities, and the more specific debate among historians about new trends in historical scholarship.