Island of Hope, Island of Horror


ellis island

It is hard to say what the highlight has been for me this week since we have seen and experienced and learned so much. Ellis Island was surprisingly powerful and meaningful. I did the Ellis Island Experience and the New Immigrant journey. I was particularly blown away by the Ellis Island Experience. The stories of the individuals and the photos of the processes they had to go through was mind blowing.

The title of this post was from a book I was reading called “Ghosts of Ellis Island” by JR & Art Spiegelman. The introduction mentioned that it was an island of hope and an island of horror. That perfectly encapsulated my experience and feelings walking around the museum yesterday. It shocked me to hear the way they, seemingly randomly, marked individuals for further evaluation and corralled them into rooms for testing. The medical procedures sounded horrific and the mental evaluations seemed ridiculous (which one of the women mentioned on the audio recording). Detention and deportation stories saddened me and, in some ways, angered me. I cannot even imagine treating people this way today, and yet, we do!! Current immigration laws and deportation practices are not much different. For immigrants, even in 2017, America is still filled with hope and horror. Coming here MIGHT provide a new, better life opportunity, but that dream is not guaranteed nor is it accessible to everyone. We haven’t come as far as we might think…


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