Honors students explore ‘The Immigrant Experience’

SMU students Pia Lara and Ashley Michelle Howe with Meredith VieiraDuring Spring Break, 15 SMU honors students visited New York, where they explored 130-year-old tenement rooms on the Lower East Side, staged an impromptu performance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and traced family histories at Ellis Island.

The students toured the city as part of the Honors Cultural Formations course “The Immigrant Experience,” which has focused this term on New York as a city of immigration throughout America’s history.

“The students saw firsthand what they have been reading about in class,” says Caroline Brettell, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor of Anthropology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, who teaches the course. “They experienced the rich and layered history of the city as well as its hyper-diversity. They saw the impact immigrants have on cities – how they claim space and construct neighborhoods.”

SMU’s Richter Fellowship Program, which has supported independent research at the University since 1999, funded the class trip as a way of getting students outside the traditional curriculum. Each student who participated will complete an independent research paper.

(Above, students Pia Lara and Ashley Michelle Howe with “Today” show host Meredith Vieira on the street outside the NBC television studios.)

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