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Project | 4-6 weeks

Exploring immigrant experiences


exploring immigration

Explore the experiences of immigrants or first-generation Americans. What does it mean to fit in and feel American?

If you’re not an immigrant or first-generation American, find someone who is willing to share about their experiences.

First-generation Americans were born in the U.S. but have parents who were born elsewhere, while immigrants moved to the U.S. from another country. If you or your parents were born in another country, how do you stay connected to more than one culture?

Over the past decade, the percentage of Americans born in another country has been growing. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the nation’s foreign-born population was 46.2 million in 2022 (13.9% of the overall population) – an increase of 15.6% since 2010.

Talk to your friends, family, and people in your community. For inspiration, check out this story about a Cambodian refugee made by a student journalist in Portland, Oregon, or this story about a young immigrant working to become an attorney, made by student journalists in Washington DC.

Think about some common experiences of immigrants and first generation Americans:

Fitting in:

  • What it’s like to grow up/live between two or more cultures
  • What does it mean to fit in and feel American?
  • Pressure of expectations and achieving the American Dream
  • The effect of negative stereotypes about your culture/heritage/country of origin
  • Embracing, rejecting, or feeling disconnected from your family’s culture
  • Navigating college applications
  • What’s your immigrant community like here, and how do they collectively preserve their culture in the U.S.?

Culture and language:

  • Codeswitching
  • Going to language lessons, camps, or other activities
  • What it’s like to have a more global perspective, compared to peers who may not
  • Feelings around knowing or not knowing a second language
  • Being a translator for family members who don’t speak English, filling out paperwork, government documents for parents or relatives


  • Ways you connect with your culture through food, dance, faith, music, ect.
  • Ideas/values from your family’s culture you wish were more prevalent in the U.S.
  • What it’s like not feeling represented in all aspects of American life (pop culture, census, government, etc.)
  • Getting to travel to other countries and what you learned
  • Being far away from family members
  • What does living in the diaspora mean to you?
  • Strength of intergenerational ties in the U.S. and other countries
  • Reasons families move. Where do they move to and why?


This year, instead of submitting fully produced stories, SRL invites students to pitch their story ideas first.


  • RESEARCH: Spend time doing research, talk to people you’d like to interview, and shape your story idea.
  • WATCH: this short video about pitching
  • REVIEW: this pitch example before submitting your idea.


  • Submit your pitch using this form (note: form coming in August!) Pitches will also be accepted on a rolling basis August 1, 2024 through February 1, 2025.


  • Show clear evidence of research
  • Tell a compelling story
  • List specific people you intend to interview

If your pitch is selected, you will work with an SRL Youth Media Producer to further develop your story for publication. If selected, a team member will contact you within three weeks of your submission.


  • Profile (2-4 min. long): A profile is the story of one person. It has voiceover (VO), b-roll, pictures, nats (natural sound), it may also include interviews of family members or peers of that one person. Watch this example of a profile about an immigrant studying to become an attorney. Here’s an example of a profile of a musician who works to spread hope, inspiration, and empowerment.
  • Explainer (2-4 min. long): A video explaining a concept. Often it includes a host/narrator speaking directly to the camera. The tone could be serious, funny, or informative. Watch this student-produced example of an explainer about how music affects your mood. Here’s another example of an explainer about AI and college admissions.
  • News package (3-5 min. long): Video stories about newsworthy issues and topics. A news package has factual information, balanced reporting, research, voice overs, multiple interviews with people sharing different perspectives, soundbites, b-roll footage. It may also include things like infographics, a reporter standup, nats (natural sound from filming b-roll). Watch this example of a news package about a new law in Hawaii requiring schools to provide free menstrual products. Here’s another example of a news package about a program to help provide incarcerated people with access to higher education.
  • NAT package (2-4 min. long): A video story guided by the natural sound from interviews and the environment where you’re filming. Natural sound, commonly known as “NAT sound,” puts the viewer in the place the story was told by enhancing the scene(s) with video containing rich audio such as a musician singing at a train station, a storm approaching, or the sound of a tractor plowing the field. This kind of story would often not have a voiceover narration. Here’s an example of a nat package about two Italian immigrants who own a pizza shop.
  • Social Media (60 - 90 sec. long): Short video that tells a cohesive story with interview bites, b-roll footage, graphics and/or voice-over, cut vertically for social media. Watch this example of a social media video about two teens in Maryland who started a composting organization. Here’s another social media video about a teen from Ohio who eats bugs.



Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.

Source: American Press institute


​​A subject or problem that people are thinking and talking about

Source: Cambridge Dictionary


A group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood). It can also be a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.

Source: Merriam Webster

The Framing Effect

In news media, when storytelling presents a “frame” or window into important events or topics.


A simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group; a set form or convention



The condition of having or being composed of differing elements. Especially in the context of the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization

Source: Merriam Webster


The act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability)

Source: Merriam Webster


Awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation or intuitive cognition. A capacity for comprehension and understanding.

Source: Merriam Webster

Human Interest

People are interested in other people. Everyone has something to celebrate and something to complain about. We like unusual stories of people who accomplish amazing feats or handle a life crisis because we can identify with them.

Story Angle

In news, it’s a story’s point or theme. It's the lens through which the producer or writer filters the information they have gathered and focuses it to make it meaningful to viewers or readers.

Source: ThoughCo.


The people who read, watch and consume news. Often, journalists think about audience and newsworthiness in similar ways. How will the news story serve their local or national audience? Who am I writing the story for and why?


A person or other physical being in a narrative. Stories are made up of different characters who provide information and help shape the narrative with their knowledge, experience and perspective.


A description of what your story might be and WHY it’s important. An outline of your story idea and the steps to achieve your goal. A summary of what you hope to accomplish in your story

News package

Video stories about newsworthy issues and topics, factual information, balanced reporting, research, voice overs, soundbites, b-roll footage, infographics, reporter standup, nats (natural sound bites).

Video profile

The story of one person, has voiceover (VO), b-roll, pictures, nats (natural sound), interviews of family members or peers of that one person.

Explainer video

Narration and/or voiceover (VO) with a host, commentary, research, personal experiences, explanations, infographics, nats (natural sound), music, entertainment.


An investigation into and study of sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.


Free from mistake or error. Coverage of topics and facts in appropriate detail.

Writing - Research to Build and Present Knowledge


Historical understanding requires recognizing this multiplicity of points of view in the past, which makes it important to seek out a range of sources on any historical question rather than simply use those that are easiest to find. It also requires recognizing that perspectives change over time, so that historical understanding requires developing a sense of empathy with people in the past whose perspectives might be very different from those of today. (NCSS D2.His.4.9-12 - D2.His.8.9-12)

Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. (ISTE)

Determining Helpful Sources

Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources. (NCSS D1.5.9-12)

Demonstrate writing processes used in journalism and broadcasting media.

Writing - Text Types and Purposes

Gathering and Evaluating Sources

Whether students are constructing opinions, explanation, or arguments, they will gather information from a variety of sources and evaluate the relevance of that information. (NCSS D3.1.9-12 - D3.2.9-12)

Plan and deliver a media production (e.g., broadcast, video, web, mobile).




Stereotypes and Misconceptions



Active Prompts







Estimated Time

4-6 weeks