44, 278,271 immigrants were residing in the United States as of 2018, according to usafacts.org.
People who arrive in the U.S. from other countries face significant challenges as they adjust to living in American society, and it’s critically important that Americans of all ages understand the complex issues surrounding immigration, refugees, and the undocumented living in this country.
In an effort to provide teenagers with a comprehensive and curated collection of sources that explore immigration, Assistant Professor of Practice in LIbrary and Information Science Marc Aronson asked his Master of Information class Young Adult Reading and Literacy to create a rich resource guide specifically designed for school and public librarians to share with teens.
The five students in the class, Adam Rule, Anna Genovese, Collin Ortell, Jonathan Rodriguez, and Josh Cohen, researched material for about three weeks and fully immersed themselves into the project. The students named the guide “Unwelcome America.”
“The students did a brilliant job -- finding so many ways to allow teenagers to identify with immigrants, to learn about the contentions, conflicts, and issues, and, perhaps most of all to turn a news ‘topic’ into a human story,” Aronson said. “They set out to locate and then select materials in a variety of genres that could be useful — from memoirs and documentaries to role playing games, graphic novels, and even opposing voices. Both in terms of the materials they chose and as the outline of many avenues into a crucial and complex topic I thought it might be of interest to readers of Fuse8.”
The Fuse8 blog on the School Library Journal website is highly visible, and Betsy Bird, who writes the blog, “was gracious enough to share the student work. I hope librarians will make use of these valuable resources,” Aronson said.
The project was especially meaningful to Rodriguez, who in addition to working toward his masters at SC&I is also working as a Youth Services Library Associate at Bordentown Public Library. Prior to his career as a librarian, Rodriguez served in the United States Airforce for more than three years as an Air Transportation Specialist.
This project hit close to home, Rodriguez said, because his parents are immigrants from Colombia, and he is a librarian. His passion for becoming a librarian goes back to his childhood, he said. His parents were always working so he would spend most his time at the library, reading comic books and graphic novels.
“I wish there were resources like these when I was growing up, since I lived through half the things in this presentation.” Rodriguez said. “While I was helping putting this project together, I kept thinking about my parents and if they had these resources, what kind of decisions they could’ve made.”
More information on the Master of Information (MI) Program can be found on the Rutgers School of Communication and Information (SC&I) website.