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Road Trip!

The question I’ve gotten most often from friends and family this past winter while the Museum was closed was “What have you been doing all day?”. It’s understandable—so many of my responsibilities as the Interpretation and Visitor Experience Coordinator require both visitors and things to interpret. With the Museum closed and the exhibition under construction, I had neither, and the Interpreters needed to interpret, and the Educators needed to educate. Without an exhibition to do it in, we decided to take our “show” on the road.

Immigration Remixed is a program designed specifically for grade six students. Through it, we discover how the immigration of people and technologies builds the material and non-material culture that infuses our everyday lives. It affects how we communicate, act, eat, think and live in Canada. While exploring material and non-material culture, students are empowered to create meaning from our shared heritage, developing leadership, problem solving, confidence and creativity.

The program includes all kinds of fun and interesting activities like handling artifacts and reading documents, listening to oral history clips, creating a musical remix using quotes from the stories found in our collection, and decorating and packing a suitcase with what kinds of things they’d bring if they were to leave home. It’s a lot to pack in to two short hours, but it seemed like a good way to spend the winter closure.

My colleagues and I have delivered the Immigration Remix: the Road Show Edition to several middle and junior high schools in across Nova Scotia. We’ve had a ton of fun going into classrooms and learning with the kids, and we’ve had some amazing feedback from the students and teachers who had participated—it’s not every day that you get people taking over your classroom with tablets and craft supplies.

Personally, the mini-suitcases are my favourite part of the program. It’s an opportunity to reflect on all the stories and objects we’d seen earlier in the activity, and for students to come up with their own examples of what they would bring with them if they had to immigrate. Many of the material answers were similar across the board (lots of hockey gear and iPhones), but the non-material answers, the things students would pack in their hearts and minds, were incredible. We talked about traditions and languages, but some students “packed” very specific memories in their suitcases like their fifth birthday, or a time they went to the beach. It was fascinating to learn what was special and held sentimental value to these students.

All in all, we enjoyed delivering the workshop on the road, and we hope we can continue delivering it to eager grade six students in the future.

And now that we're open, I'm excited that we get to share this specific Road Show activity with visitors every day. You can find the mini-suitcases and oodles of craft supplies in "Collaboration Corner" of Canadian Immigration Hall. Many of the suitcases that were decorated and packed by students this winter are currently on display, and we've added a couple hundred more to the collection in just the few weeks since re- opening. I hope that all of our visitors will pack their own suitcase and add it to our display.