“I Learn America” film screening and panel discussion set for October 4

America2Nearly one in four children is an immigrant or the children of immigrants. Our classrooms are meeting a growing influx of students who speak little to no English, who are unfamiliar with American culture, and, in some cases, who lack formal education. The children of immigration are here to stay. How we fare in welcoming them and providing support will define who we as a country are for years to come.


In conjunction with the UMKC Division of Diversity and inclusion, the UMKC School of Education is proud to host the screening of the film documentary, I Learn America on October 4 from 6-8 p.m. in its learning Commons (Room 129) at 615 E. 52nd Street.  This event is free.


I Learn America highlights four teenagers at the International High School at Lafayette, a Brooklyn, NY, public high school dedicated to newly arrived immigrants where more than 300 students speaking 24 languages from more than 50 countries.  These students all strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, and create a future of their own while coming of age in a new land.


Topics the film addresses include:

  • The ways in which schools build community
  • The similarities and differences of refugees with other immigrant experiences
  • The role of teachers and administrators in creating a shared identity
  • How parental expectations impact learning
  • What it means to “learn America”

A panel discussion, featuring community members, educators and students, will follow the film screening.


I Learn America is by Jean-Michel Dissard and Gitte Peng, with support from the MacArthur Foundation and the Jerome Foundation.  Watch the trailer.


Allyson Hile, director of Language Services for the Kansas City Public Schools; Diane Mora, consultant with the UMKC Regional Professional Development Center; Uzziel Pecina, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor  in the UMKC School of Education and Christine Timmerman, assistant dean at the UMKC School of Education) served as the planning committee for this event.