NYC kids, joined by Rangers players, get first-hand experience of immigrants coming to the U.S.

We all remember what it's like to take a field trip, and for dozens of New York City kids, it was also a chance to learn something new.

“The War of 1812, when the British were going to attack our country,” a Ellis Island guide explained to them.

They were ready to hit the water for a unique activity on Ellis Island.

“They didn’t really explain it, they want it to sort of be a surprise for us,” Jalen smiled.

Jalen is about to get a glimpse of what immigrants experience as they tried to enter the United States.

“I’m going to look under your eyelid to check for disease, you're good so come on in," one of the Ellis Island guides said as he inspected the kids.

The 12-year-old is taking part in this immersive activity through the Garden of Dreams Foundation and SCO Family of Services.

“Pretty amazing, eye opening!" Chris Kreider, New York Rangers winger, smiled.

Taking in the process with them, a few current and former Rangers players.

“It’s a big part of American history and some things become relevant again so this is past and present meeting in the middle," Kreider said.

“We want to make sure you’re physically fit to come to the United States," another Ellis Island guide yelled at the kids.

After a physical exam, it was time to answer some tough questions.

“What does your dad do for a living?" one guide asked a student. "He shines shoes,” she replied.

Each child was assigned a country.

“My country is Russia, I’m from Russia," Sumaya, a nine-year-old, said.

Then they were told to develop a character and backstory.

“I am from Italy, my dad is a firefighter and he makes good money," Ryan, a 10-year-old, explained.

“What do you plan to do here?" one of the guides asked Jalen as part of the exercise. "Go to school then take over the family business” Jalen replied.

“I was kind of a little nervous because I’m under pressure so I didn’t know what they were going to ask me," Jalen said.

All of the kids here today got the go-ahead.

“I like that I was welcomed to the U.S.," Sumaya smiled.

“They thought that I was accepted to be in the US so so they gave me the badge”

But they also understood many men, women and children weren't as fortunate.

“It makes me feel upset because these immigrants should’ve had it better and they should’ve been treated like human beings not animals," Ryan explained.

And at a time when the country has mixed emotions and opinions on how to handle immigrants and refugees, it's seems some of our youngest generation agree on one thing.

“That makes me frustrated and mad because what if that was you?” Ashlee, a 10-year-old, said.

“America should allow people in other countries they can learn something from them," Nalah another student said.

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi