Tag Archives: migration

A Review: Immigration Stories from St. Scholastica Faculty – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Review: Immigration Stories from St. Scholastica Faculty – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

 

From Professor Liang, NSR Editor-in-Chief: Thanks to Office of International Programs Director Alison Champeaux and student assistant Eleni Birhane for organizing this panel discussion.

The College of Saint Scholastica Office of International Programs sponsored a recent event at CSS during which three professors who immigrated to the U.S. shared their stories, advice, and general information about the immigration process. True stories about immigrants are hard to find in our current political environment. Both sides of the political spectrum use immigrant stories as a form of propaganda. The lack of real stories or true information leads many of us to be ignorant of what is really going on with immigration, luckily CSS is fortunate enough to have a few professors who are themselves immigrants and who were willing to speak about their experiences.

Each of the three professors spoke eloquently and intelligently, each with their own style and flair, but each professor spoke well to the audience of mostly students. There were many students at this event, surprisingly few faculty were in attendance. Some classes encourages students to come and watch and it appeared that quite a few students came because of general interest. All of the speakers are professors, and they all had varied experiences in their immigration stories and process. Professor Chaparadza is from Zimbabwe, Professor Alwan is from Iraq, and Professor Liang is from Taiwan. One professor came to the U.S. with his family as a child in 1978, one came in 2003 after a teacher told him there would be more opportunities for getting into a Ph.D program, and one came in 1978 to study medicine, but ended up studying civil engineering.

The talk was moderated by Office of International Programs Director Alison Champeaux ,who kept the discussion moving and asked questions of the three professors before the discussion was opened up to student questions. The moderator’s questions included “How American do you feel? How do you stay connected to your cultural identity? What do you see for the next generation? Where do you see our biggest need or what is the biggest driver to change immigration laws in the U.S.?”

The speakers had differing ideas about how American they feel. A common thread however was that after this last election they all felt more excluded from their Americanness. That as of late it is impossible not to feel conscious of that fact that some may not view them as American. In a way that currently it is common to feel ‘othered’ within the United States, even after living, working, and raising a family for years or decades in the U.S. Even after becoming U.S. citizens they now feel as though there is not a lot of room for flexibility in defining what being an American is. Being an American is “tricky” as one speaker said. Now it is even more tricky than it has been in the past.

Although each of the speakers is a professor, pays taxes, gives back to the community and probably knows more about the American system of government than the average student, let alone citizen, they now feel ostracized in their own country. The United States really is their country, they consider themselves American and have the legal status to be so. Yet discrimination rears its ugly head, whether openly or subtly.

They told stories of how long and arduous the process of becoming a citizen is, that it is very expensive, costing thousands of dollars and years. One speaker said that it took him 13 long years to get his sister into the U.S, even after he signed all the paperwork saying he would pay for all of her expenses, including living expenses once here. The sheer amount of time that the process takes to go through is astonishing to someone like me who is not familiar with it.

When asked what needs the most changing in the U.S. in terms of immigration legislation the three speakers all made good points, all different, but related, to each other. The first said that the U.S. needs to focus on brains, possibly copying the system in the United Kingdom where an individual earns certain numbers of points for skills and when a certain threshold is reached they are in. The second speakers said a points system is a good idea, but that more than that these laws and decisions need to be made with reason and not with emotion and anger. Decisions need to be based on a reasonable reality more than they are today. The last speaker said that what needs to change is one word, simplify. The process needs to be more simple because the complexity and length and expense almost forces, or at least encourages, people to do things illegally.

All three agreed that there needs to be more education on the immigration system and about what immigrants are actually like and looking for in the U.S. They all agreed that the average American student should know more, be taught more, about immigration and immigrants in America today so that propaganda from both sides of the political aisle is not taken as fact.

At the end of the talk one student asked what advice the three professor would have for the average white American male in terms of these issues. The professors thought this was an excellent question and their answers, all detailed and specific in their own ways, I will summarize as not being afraid to ask questions. That we cannot come to understand one another if we do not ask questions. Considerate thoughtful questions are needed for all sides to get to know each other and to better understand issues around immigration and immigrants themselves.

Fortunately St. Scholastica and the CSS Office of International Programs was able to hold an event where those kinds of questions could be asked and discussed. Immigrant stories are important, especially today, and the whole country could probably use a few more events like this one.

Matthew serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Matthew Breeze, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

A Review of ‘“A Progressive Argument to Reduce Immigration into the United States” a speech given by Professor Philip Cafaro – by Rebecca Smith. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Review of ‘“A Progressive Argument to Reduce Immigration into the United States” a speech given by Professor Philip Cafaro – by Rebecca Smith. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

becca-s-review-progressive-immigration

On February 9th, 2017, I attended the lecture “A Progressive Argument to Reduce Immigration into the United States” by Professor Philip Cafaro at The College of St. Scholastica, which was sponsored by the Alworth Center. As someone who knows little about immigration and its true impact, I felt compelled to attend this lecture and the lecture on March 7th – Justice and the U.S. Immigration Policy with Aviva Chomsky. When I first learned about the topic of the lecture, I bristled at the prospect. Most of my experience with hearing about immigration consisted of hopeful stories of people coming and making better lives for themselves and their families, so the prospect of reducing this opportunity for people didn’t seem like a good option. Philip Cafaro cited economic inequality and an unsustainable society as the two main concerns of immigration and noted the problems that it can create.

The first of the problems that was addressed was the economic inequality that the current immigration policy of the U.S. is to blame for. Cafaro interviewed many people in the hard labor or small business field, immigrant and non-immigrant, and used stories to show how immigration has an effect on the middle and lower classes. For example, one of the people he interviewed, Tom Kinney, owned his own business that is now failing. He attributed the failing to two reasons. First, bigger companies that did the same type of work exploit immigrants and pay them a non-living wage because they can get away with it, thus making the bigger companies rates lower. Secondly, not all immigrants pay taxes like he did for his business, so they could work for lower rates, but do the same work. Cafaro also pointed out the fallacy that U.S. citizens refuse to do hard labor, so immigrants are stepping up and doing those jobs. Kinney and Cafaro believe that it isn’t that U.S. citizens are refusing the work, they are refusing the pay that goes along with the work. In his interview, Kinney stated that because a lot of people don’t like those kinds of jobs, they used to pay well. At least, they used to pay a living wage. Now, because of big companies and the lower/no tax rate, these positions generally aren’t paying a living wage.

Cafaro also noted that immigration is often looked in oversimplified terms. There will be winners and losers in any immigration policy, but he argued that that shouldn’t stop the government from changing things. Cafaro argued that wealthy, better educated workers are less impacted than the working class. Legal fields have fewer immigrants (7%) in the job pools than farming/fishing fields (36%). While people who earn higher wages support immigration because goods and services are less expensive, the current immigration policy, or an open boarder, will not help working class citizens. This argument was surprising to me, as I had grown up in a middle class household and had parents whose positions and careers that were not impacted by immigration, but benefited off of the lower priced goods and services. In the question/answer section of the lecture, Cafaro did acknowledge that it is possible that technology has impacted farming/fishing fields, and others like it, but that the fact that technology has had an impact should show why job pools should not be flooded. He argued that tightening up the labor market created the Golden Age post WWII, and that the U.S. should be doing the same thing now. A tightened labor market isn’t the only reason Cafaro believes that the U.S. should create a lower immigration policy.

The environmental impact of overpopulation is vast, and Cafaro believes that we could consider the U.S. to be the most overpopulated country, based on consumption. It is no secret that our society is largely not being created in a sustainable way. If we want to have an ecological and sustainable society, which Cafaro believes we need to have, we need to reduce population. An obvious solution may be to suggest and promote having fewer children, but Cafaro argues that U.S. citizens are already doing that. Instead of larger families, like we have seen in the past, many parents are only having two children. However, at the same time, Congress is raising immigration limits. A question from the audience member brought up the point of making efforts to consume less, so there doesn’t have to be a reduction of immigration. Cafaro responded by saying that the resources that we save should not be making room for more people to come in and use them. If a city was to reduce its water usage by 20%, Cafaro argues that that remaining water should be left in rivers and for the environment. It should not be used for 20% more people to use it. Cafaro believes that it’s selfish to take land and water away from ecosystems and animals and in doing so we will see harmful repercussions to humans.

Sprawl is also detrimental to ecosystems and species. When sprawl occurs, there is an increase in water and land consumption, and a loss of habitat. Cafaro believes that we have a responsibility to save species from extinction, when their populations are rapidly decreasing because of humans. We do not have the right to take a species’ right to live. While he notes that sprawl can certainly happen without immigration, it happens much more rapidly when immigration is a factor. With Cafaro’s education and activism background, he doesn’t believe that we can create a sustainable society with the population we have now, let alone what the population would be in 2100. The chance for a sustainable society gets slimmer with a larger population.

So what is the U.S. to do about it? Cafaro proposed four ideas that would not only reduce immigration, but would also help other nations. Firstly, he proposed to cut immigration to 300,000/year. Currently, immigration limits are over 1 million per year. Cafaro broke down the different subsections of immigration, from families to refugees/asylum seekers. The largest cut would be to family immigration. Cafaro suggests that letting a nuclear family immigrate is not the problem, but when someone brings much of their extended family with. It is important to note that he only wants to make a sliver of a cut to refugees/asylum seekers immigration numbers. We have a moral responsibility to help and assist those in need. The second idea Cafaro proposed is to implement a national employee verification program, where there would be strict sanctions against employers who exploit immigrants. Next, he proposed to pass carefully targeted amnesties. A story of an immigrant who worked and paid taxes in the U.S. for 25 years was discussed, and Cafaro believes that people who have worked hard like that immigrant should be given amnesty and citizenship. Finally, Cafaro proposed reworking trade agreements and helping people live better lives in their own countries.

Before this lecture, I would not have considered a reduced immigration policy for the purpose of economics beneficial. The lecture opened my eyes to the fact that I might be viewing immigration policies in a position of privilege. However, if the government acts to reduce immigration, but the greed of many corporations and big businesses stay the same, it is possible that the prices of goods and services will go up, causing me, and people like me, to reconfigure budgets. On the other hand, people should be able to live on the wage that they are being paid and not struggle to pay for things like water, nutritious food, and heat. Cafaro recognizes that there will be choices that need to be made – should there be cheaper housing prices or good wages for construction workers? While having both might be an obvious choice, Cafaro believes that there will need to be a choice because of immigration.

The impression I got was that Cafaro was basing his lecture off of how the country is moving – not off of idealistic theories of how the country should be moving. However, if Cafaro really looked at how the government functioned, he would see that it has trouble making decisions and rarely does things to help people in other countries if there is no benefit for itself. He also didn’t take into consideration the culture of the U.S. and what we consider a good life, may create trouble in other countries. Just because the government considers certain things and values to be a good life does not mean that the citizens of the country where the program would be implemented feel the same. There would have to be communication between the U.S. government and other country’s government and citizens in order to determine what would be best for the country. While I would hope that the U.S. government would be able to do so, it does not have a history of successfully doing this. A question brought up by a student asked about the responsibility that we have to people in other countries because of bad U.S. policies that have caused them to immigrate to the U.S. Cafaro believes that we do have a responsibility to help people, especially because of U.S. action, but it should be helping them within their own countries. It was suggested that the students who come to the U.S. to study should then go back to their own countries to help improve them, which makes sense on the surface, but on a deeper and realistic level, is not always that simple or easy.

The general sense of Cafaro’s arguments was that while his lecture was a response to how the country was moving and based his argument off of that, he did not necessarily offer realistic ways to change it. His ideas in response were also idealistic. Cutting immigration to a third of what it is now is unlikely to happen soon. We have seen that big businesses often have their interests valued higher in the government due to their ability to “donate” to campaigns, so how do we change the government and big business culture? Change is going to have to happen on multiple levels and in multiple ways if we want to a) create an ecological and sustainable society and b) seriously make efforts to create economic equality within the U.S.

Rebecca serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Rebecca Smith

U.S. Mexican Border – Asylum Seekers and Legal Aid – by Kathryn Marquis Hirsch. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

U.S. Mexican Border – Asylum Seekers and Legal Aid – by Kathryn Marquis Hirsch. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[Photo 1: The border fence between Brownsville, Texas, USA and Matamoros, Mexico. It’s very tall and hard to grasp but people still manage to scale it. It’s harder to get down than it is to get up, which leads to injuries.]

For one short week during my latest semester break, I was a law student volunteer with an organization that provides pro bono legal services to asylum seekers in South Texas, near the United States-Mexico border. Some of their clients are being held by the United States Department of Homeland Security in detention centers while a relative few are out on bond. Lawyers, legal assistants, and law students from The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) give presentations and meet with asylum seekers individually to help explain the application process and how to navigate the United States’ very complicated and often arbitrary system of immigration law.

It is important to note that under international and U.S. law, asylum seekers must enter American territory to begin the process; they cannot apply for asylum before entering the country. Detainees are not “illegal;” even people who are undocumented are not being held because they have committed any crime. Before they are given permission to stay in the United States, they are, however, subject to a rigorous application process that is very confusing and counter-intuitive.

The application process requires a person to explain why they cannot safely live in their home country and why they qualify for asylum in the U.S. based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and/or membership in a particular social group. (They may also be allowed to remain in the U.S. because of the Convention Against Torture.) These categories are broader than they might seem at first reading, so many applicants do not realize how they qualify. For example, a person being targeted for persecution because he or she is a member of a certain clan, sect, or gender, or someone who is not being protected from persecution by the authorities of their home country because of membership in an unfavored group, would meet the requirements. Including evidence of the conditions in one’s home country also helps, but country conditions alone won’t convince a court. Showing that violence is high or that minority groups are being targeted can reinforce someone’s claim but isn’t enough; the government’s policy isn’t to simply give asylum to everyone from a country even if that country is in a state of chaos. Applicants must show that they are especially at risk and have a credible fear for their safety should they return to their country.

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[Photo 2: The international border crossing in Brownsville, Texas is located right at a major intersection in the heart of downtown.]

One of the most important ways ProBAR can help an applicant is with writing a supplement to their application that explains why they felt forced to leave their home country and undertake a long, harrowing journey to the United States. This is a hard task even for native English speakers with some legal training. The process requires putting one’s story into a legalistic, sequential format that includes all pertinent information while also being brief and to the point. This is not how human memory works, especially not when thinking about terrible events, but any inconsistencies or omissions may undermine an asylum seeker’s credibility in the view of a court.

Consider the hypothetical of telling someone about something that happened the first day of the week. If they ask specifically, you might tell someone that it happened on a Monday without really drawing upon memory. If you then find some document that shows the event in question actually occurred on a Tuesday, that might prompt you to recall that it was actually the first day back to work or school after a three-day holiday weekend so it felt like a Monday, and that’s how you remembered it before you scrutinized the details. This is not a matter of being dishonest or even a sign of a faulty memory, it’s just how human memory works. People leave out or remember different details depending on what questions they’re asked, what order they discuss events in, and so on. Add trauma, time, and an unfamiliar language to the equation and it’s not hard to see how people need help to tell their histories in a linear, matter-of-fact way. Much of our work as volunteers was to interview applicants and review their information carefully to make sure that they understood what was being asked of them and that their answers matched the questions.

It cannot be overemphasized how complicated the process is– there is the basic process which is tricky enough plus different rules for different circumstances related to a person’s particular nationality, their parents’ nationality, whether they fit under an assortment of time-limited provisions, and on and on. Most people have a very strong case but don’t know how to convey this to a judge. Applicants who represent themselves without any sort of legal assistance have a statistically low chance of succeeding, while those who have even a bit of legal training and guidance are more likely than not to succeed.

Traveling great distances (often for months across thousands of miles) at great expense and risk and leaving one’s home country behind, never to return, is not entered into lightly. In the abstract, it’s easy to think about immigration as a policy problem to be solved, or in grandiose terms of huddled masses. From either a positive or negative standpoint, immigration is not a sea of humanity. It is important to look at the magnitude of the effects unrest in the world has on humanity as a whole while keeping in mind that immigration concerns the well-being of real children, women, and men.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch serves as managing editor of The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

What’s in a Name? — My Family Name, Pederstuen – The North Star Reports – by Karn Pederstuen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a Name? — My Family Name, Pederstuen – The North Star Reports – by Karn Pederstuen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[Photo 1: Although I did not have a picture of Paul, this is a picture of his son Torger’s family. Names in order from left to right: Ingman, Torger, Palmer, Guri, Morris (my grandfather), and Jalmer.]

Every time I sit in class while the teacher takes attendance, am next in line for a ceremony, or any other time I am waiting for my name to be called, I try to predict if the speaker will be able to say my name correctly. Most of the time, the answer is no. While I am proud of my last name, “Pederstuen” is not a very common name, nor is it easy to pronounce. After the first botched attempt at pronouncing my last name, it takes some people two or even three more tries to get it right. After finally mastering how to properly pronounce Pederstuen, people often inquire to its origin. I quickly reply that it is a Norwegian name and most of the time the questions stop there. However, I did have one professor this year that asked what my last name meant. Sadly, I had to answer that I didn’t know. A quick Google search did not clarify the meaning or origin of my name, and I did not look any further. However, I recently looked into my family history, and I was able to find out how the Pederstuen name began.

Karn name 2

[Photo 2: This is a picture of my great-great grandfather’s farm near present day Skabu.]

My research was quite simple. I asked my parents to bring me a binder that is full of typewritten pages about my family history which trace my family lineage on the paternal side. The Pederstuen family name began with my great-great grandfather, Paul Syverhuset. The book about my family history explained that it was customary for someone to change their family name and take on the name of the farm they lived on. Later, my great-great grandfather moved to Perstuggu (near present day Skabu) and took that on as the new family name. In the spring of 1906, Paul and some of his children came to America, the rest joining them that summer. When Paul moved to America, he went to live on the farm where his sister, Anna, was already living. It was then that Paul changed his last name to Pederstuen. I discovered the Pederstuen means Peder’s house or living place. Although I do not know where the Pederstuen came from before that, this is the point it first came into my family lineage, eventually being passed on to me.

I am glad that my family has such a detailed record of our history and that I had to opportunity to learn from it. I now have a better understanding of how my family name came to be, and I am grateful for this stronger connection with my family history.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]

What’s in a Name? World History students at our host institution, The College of St. Scholastica, were assigned the task of researching the name of a person or place with a personal connection to their lives, looking into the history of the name, the motives behind its use, and the significance of the name in the past and present. Students selected a variety of names including hometowns near and far and family names. Whether it was a name they’d always wondered about or one long taken for granted, their findings were often unexpected. Even when the name itself was not found to be especially meaningful a recurring theme emerged of increased awareness and respect for those who came before and the value of knowing their stories. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Karn Pederstuen, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

Norway – Family Connections — The North Star Reports – by Amy North. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Norway – Family Connections — The North Star Reports – by Amy North. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[By Hayden120 and NuclearVacuum [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

Almost 200,000 immigrants came to the United States from Norway between 1900 and 1910. One of these 200,000 was my great-grandfather, Ole Dahl. He grew up and worked on a farm in Bodø, Norway, before coming to the United States in 1907 at the age of twenty-two. His plan was to get a job where he could make enough money to buy a boat and return to Norway as a fisherman. Little did he know, he would end up staying in Minnesota the rest of his life.

His journey started by traveling to Liverpool, United Kingdom, to get on the steamboat Cedric, which was headed to Ellis Island. At the time, this steamboat was the largest ship in the world and provided relatively good accommodations compared to other ships. The trip lasted about a week and a half before he arrived in New York on May 14, 1907. From there, he went to Minnesota, where many other Norwegians had gone over the years due to the amount of farmland in the state. He somehow found his way to a large farm in Granite Falls. He would keep this farm in the family for generations, as it remains to this day.

amynorthnorway2

Despite the fact that Ole was enjoying his life in the U.S., his family back in Norway was still very important to him. He sent them money throughout rough economic times and decided to visit them in 1947. When he returned to Norway, his family was surprised by how much he loved life in the United States. He told them he couldn’t wait to return to “God’s Country.” He wanted his family members to return with him, but in the time that had passed the economy had improved and they didn’t need financial help anymore; they chose to stay in Norway. It was hard for Ole to leave without his family, but he now had a family back in Minnesota. In fact, he had a daughter and two sons who were starting to have children of their own and who would eventually take over the farm. Nevertheless, both the Norwegian and American sides of the family have remained in contact with one another to keep our history and culture alive.

Fast forward to the present day. I visited the farm in late July 2013 for the 95th birthday of Ole’s son and my great-uncle, Harold. I went with my mother, father, and brother, and we brought a vase of flowers from our Norwegian relatives. With the flowers in hand, we went up to Harold, who was sitting on a John Deere stool in the garage surrounded by decorations of green and yellow tractors– further evidence of just how much farming and the family estate mean to him. When we greeted him he immediately asked about the flowers. We told him that they were from the relatives in Norway whom my brother and I would be visiting next week with our uncle.

As we told Harold about the flowers and the trip we would be taking, several other friends and family members began to ask questions about the flowers and told us to say “hi” to the Norwegian relatives for them. Others would come up and tell my brother and me stories about when they went on their first trip to Norway, because everyone in our family had gone at least once. The story that stuck out the most was the one from my dad’s cousin, Cheryl, who told us about when she first arrived in Norway. When she stepped off the plane, she was greeted by Ellen, Åsmund, Arnie Berger, and Betzy (members of the oldest living generation of our relatives in Norway). Immediately Cheryl was whisked off to a town an hour away, brought to a small house in the country, and walked into a birthday party of a relative she had never met. Everyone talked to her as if they had known each other for years and were just catching up. amynorthnorway1

When my uncle, brother, and I went to Norway the next week and met our relatives, including Ellen, Åsmund, Arnie Berger, and Betzy, we immediately hit it off. In fact, I could even see them taking us halfway across the country to attend the birthday party of someone we had never met, just like they had done with Cheryl! We learned just how much Harold’s farm means to them; they all knew Harold and our whole extended family, and talked very fondly of the times they spent both in Minnesota and in Norway.

Spending two weeks in Norway was an eye-opening experience. Not only did I get the chance to travel to a different country and be immersed in a different culture, but I had the opportunity to meet members of my family I had never met before. Over the next two weeks, as we explored Oslo and other cities and met more and more family members, I suddenly realized why my family members return so often. Though our relatives in Norway are descendants of my great-great-grandparents, they treat us as if we’ve known each other our whole lives. I did not realize until Harold’s 95th birthday how much pride my family takes in their Norwegian heritage, and when I went to Norway, I finally understood why. It was not just that we came from a beautiful country, it was because of how hospitable and kind the people there are.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Amy North, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Family and World History – Irish Men On The Move — The North Star Reports – by Kirsten Olsen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Family and World History – Irish Men On The Move — The North Star Reports – by Kirsten Olsen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[photo: My ancestor, Dennis E. Mitchell, who was present when President Lincoln was shot.]

Through my research I found connections not only to Ireland, the place to which I could trace my ancestors, but also to places all around the world. Because humans have a tendency to move we are not from just one place in the world but from many. I also found historical connections that put my family in the same time and place of one major historical event.

Researching my family history made me realize that my ancestors followed in the footsteps of most other humans throughout history. Humans have a tendency to move for different reasons, such as to pursue better opportunities or a better life or to escape hardships. I have come to the conclusion that my family moved for these reasons. The oldest ancestor I found left Ireland for the New World during a period of widespread hardship. With more research I found that other members of my family also chose to move quite a bit. One member of my family actually moved six times in his life, I believe to find a good job. Whatever the reason may be for humans to leave, they move for some reason.

When I say that I’m Irish, what I’m really saying is that the farthest back that I found my own family history recorded goes back to Ireland, but the big mysteries are the things that aren’t documented. If humans have been moving for millions of years, how could I say that my ancestors are only from Ireland?

I learned that we might take pride in where we are from but we should also realize that we are all in a way “mutts.” So little things like people saying the only ones who can celebrate St. Patrick’s day are the Irish is actually quite foolish because we could all be Irish in some way, you never know.

Another thing that I learned from being in class was that big historical events in history can be noticed for one specific person but we never account for the people who are behind the scenes helping out or contributing to the event at hand. In my family history I found out that one of my ancestors was at the exact time and place of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was on duty helping to protect his country. My family takes pride in this claim to fame, connecting our family to a major historical event. But nobody ever talks about the people who are involved in these historical events; we just learn about the famous people that were involved in the event. Having done my research and found a recurring theme, I now have a better understanding about who my family is and where I fit in the world and in society. [Professor Liang’s 2014 World History II class.]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

What’s in a name? – Identity and Story Telling Through Names – The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a name? – Identity and Story Telling Through Names – — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Names are a way of communicating. They indicate to whom we are speaking, alert us when someone wants our attention, and let us know how much trouble we are in (when mom pulls out the middle name, it’s a lot!) Last names, however, are a slightly different. These names indicate cultural information, such as heritage. For example, by hearing my last name, a number of inferences can be made. “Boelk” is a German-sounding name. From this, people can assume I have German heritage, that I am white, probably blonde, and that I drink a lot of beer. For three out of four of these, they’d be correct. Now, take the last name “Lopez”. Does the same mental image appear? Probably not.

In addition to heritage, names have the potential to tell stories. I’m sure everyone can think of a relative or friend who was named after a grandparent or celebrity. But what about last names? Is there a story behind a German sounding “Voelk” changed to an English sounding “Boelk?” How about my mother’s side of the family being named “Johnson” in Norway and suddenly switching to “Lillo” after immigration? I think so.

My great grandmother, on my mother’s side, did extensive amounts of research on family heritage and genealogy. It is for this reason that I am sharing the story of the Johnson/Lillo’s rather than the “Voelk’s” (investigation pending.) This name change is an important part of my family history and tells the story of my family’s immigration to the United States.
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[The Lille O farm’s main building, which was over 200 years old.]

There were several small islands in the river that ran along the “Lille O” farm in Christiana, Norway. The name Lilloe means “Little Island” in Norwegian. The first “Lillo” to own the Lille O farm purchased it at auction on April 17th, 1792. Andreas Johnson inherited the farm from his father on December 29th, 1842. Though it is now a public park in present day Oslo, this farm remained in the Lillo family for 109 years.
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[This goblet that was owned by Christian Ancher, the original owner of the Lille O Farm, can be found in the Oslo Museum of applied art. It is dated 1764.]

According to the world history encyclopedia, about 10.2 million people immigrated to the U.S. during 1820-1880, this included an entire 1/3 of Norway’s population. Andreas Johnson and his family immigrated to the U.S. in two groups. The first group was two of the eldest children, including Johann Johnson, who left Christiana, Norway on March 27th, 1854. They lived in Wisconsin until the second group of Andreas, his wife, and the rest of the children arrived about three years later. They then moved to Minnesota where there is record of an Andreas Jensen buying land in 1857, in Salem Township. This was before Minnesota had become a state.
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[Photograph of a cartoon my great grandmother kept pinned with her immigration research. I found cartoons frequently as I went through her work.]

Johann Johnson, Andreas’ eldest son, was the first in the family to officially change his last name to Lillo. This was documented in the 1870 census and was entered as “Lelo” by the census taker. Taking the name of a family farm was a common, and legal, practice in Norway. Magnus, Andreas’ youngest son, did not begin using the name Lillo until he applied for a post office in Minnesota. He was told there were too many Johnson’s and changed the last name to Lillo some time in 1898 keeping Johnson as a middle name. The town of Lillo remained on Minnesota maps until the 1930’s and Lillo has forever replaced Johnson as my family’s surname.
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[Information recorded by my Great Grandmother during her research]
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[Photograph of Minnesota Map still depicting the town of Lillo]
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[Photocopy of a postcard sent from the town of Lillo]

Magnus was my great, great, great grandfather and as a result of him applying for a post office, I am a Lillo. Had the family name remained “Johnson”, there would never have been the town of Lillo and the story of the Lille O Farm may have been lost over the years. This is my favorite example of how a name, or the changing of a name, tells a story.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

For all of the North Star Reports, see http://NorthStarReports.org See also, http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports will share essays from our student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports. The NSR is co-sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open-access policy. K-12 teachers, please contact the chief editor if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes, Tayler Boelk