Yesterday was Special Day, a day that combines a comprehensive, fun theme with an educational, social justice topic. The theme, which was immigration and labor, was integrated fully throughout the day in a way that let the kids interact and engage with it. Despite it being a rainy and gray day, everyone had a great time and learned a lot.
We woke up in the land of Moshuva, where we soon learned that living conditions were less than satisfactory, despite the promises of our President. The kids participated in three rounds of activities representing food, jobs, democracy, and education among others. In each round, food became scarcer, unemployment jumped, voting laws became more exclusive and education became less available. Finally, the President was overthrown by a military coup. At this point, the kids decided to immigrate to America in a search for a better life.
The kids began a round robin of stations representing the difficulties of the immigration process. Kids had to get their visas, pack, gather sufficient money and say goodbye to their families and friends. After that came the actual process of crossing the border, where the kids went through an obstacle course, complete with the strict border patrol and dogs (represented by goats). The kids overcame the obstacles and made it the the U.S. and then had their first American lunch of hot dogs and baked beans.
Once in the U.S, however, the kids faced difficulties acclimating to American society, in a round robin of activities addressing issues such as racial profiling, healthcare access, achieving citizenship and housing. Next, the kids went to the pool, where the job fair was located. They swam in the “Applicant Pool” and applied for jobs – however, the job application was extremely difficult to understand, as it was written in Greek.
The kids were split into groups and assigned to low-wage jobs, such as janitors, construction workers, fast food workers and cashiers. The janitors scrubbed the MLC floor with toothbrushes, the cashiers put pennies into rolls and the construction workers moved wood into piles. After a few minutes of this unpleasant labor, a union organizer came to each group and convinced them to start a union. We then met in the union hall for an afternoon snack.
The kids split into chugim (special interest group) to learn about topics such as the DREAM act, day laborer organizing, the decline of unions and Jewish perspectives on immigration. Then, after making signs, we met up at the Toren (flagpole) for a rally about labor rights and rights for undocumented immigrants. We marched to the Ampitheater, chanting slogans like “The people united will never be defeated!” and “People over profit!.” There, we heard inspiring speeches and real testimonies from undocumented immigrants about their experiences.
We learned “Solidarity Forever” and other union songs and sang them all the way to the dining hall for dinner, where we ate dishes that represented the U.S.’s cultural diversity, such as Indian and Ethiopian curries. At dinner, the kids participated in a wrap-up discussion and reflection about the day by cabin and tent. A Labor Day party finished off an amazing Special Day.