Searching for Gold Mountain: The Immigration Experience

Grades: 4-12 | Duration: 60 minutes

Students will reenact the journey of early Chinese immigrants who fled warfare and famine in the declining Qing Dynasty to labor under discrimination and exclusion in the U.S. They’ll experience how subsequent generations served and suffered in WWII, and see why a new wave of immigration and progress towards equality followed. Students will view a presentation about diverse San Diegans who made similar journeys and in each case, hard work and education were keys to success.

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards

Speaking & Listening

  • 6.1c – Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.
  • 6.1d – Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing.
California State Board of Education

History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools

  • 4.4 – Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s.
  • 4.4.1 – Understand the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the transcontinental railroad, including the contributions of Chinese workers to its construction.
  • 4.4.2 – Explain how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the types of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San Francisco), economic conflicts between diverse groups of people.
  • 4.4.3 – Discuss immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900, including the diverse composition of those who came; the countries of origin and their relative locations; and conflicts and accords among the diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act).
  • 4.4.4 – Describe rapid American immigration, internal migration, settlement, and the growth of towns and cities (e.g., Los Angeles).
  • 8.12 – Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution.
  • 8.12.5 – Examine the location and effects of urbanization, renewed immigration, and industrialization (e.g., the effects on social fabric of cities, wealth and economic opportunity, the conservation movement).
  • 8.12.7 – Identify the new sources of large-scale immigration and the contributions of immigrants to the building of cities and the economy; explain the ways in which new social and economic patterns encouraged assimilation of newcomers into the mainstream amidst growing cultural diversity; and discuss the new wave of nativism.
  • 10.4 – Students analyze patterns of global change in the era of New Imperialism in at least two of the following regions or countries: Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India, Latin America, and the Philippines.
  • 10.4.1 – Describe the rise of industrial economies and their link to imperialism and colonialism (e.g., the role played by national security and strategic advantage; moral issues raised by the search for national hegemony, Social Darwinism, and the missionary impulse; material issues such as land, resources, and technology).
  • 10.4.2 – Discuss the locations of the colonial rule of such nations as England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Portugal, and the United States.
  • 10.4.3 – Explain imperialism from the perspective of the colonizers and the colonized and the varied immediate and long-term responses by the people under colonial rule.
  • 10.4.4 – Describe the independence struggles of the colonized regions of the world, including the roles of leaders, such as Sun Yat-sen in China, and the roles of ideology and religion.
  • 10.10 – Students analyze instances of nation-building in the contemporary world in at least two of the following regions or countries: the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and other parts of Latin America. and China.
  • 10.10.1 – Understand the challenges in the regions, including their geopolitical, cultural, military, and economic significance and the international relationships in which they are involved.
  • 10.10.2 – Describe the recent history of the regions, including political divisions and systems, key leaders, religious issues, natural features, resources, and population patterns.
  • 10.10.3 – Discuss the important trends in the regions today and whether they appear to serve the cause of individual freedom and democracy.
  • 11.7 – Students analyze America’s participation in World War II.
  • 11.7.5 – Discuss the constitutional issues and impact of events on the U.S. home front, including the internment of Japanese Americans (e.g., Fred Korematsu v. United States of America) and the restrictions on German and Italian resident aliens; the response of the administration to Hitler’s atrocities against Jews and other groups; the roles of women in military production; and the roles and growing political demands of African Americans.
  • 11.11 – Students analyze the major social problems and domestic policy issues in contemporary American society.
  • 11.11.1 – Discuss the reasons for the nation’s changing immigration policy, with emphasis on how the Immigration Act of 1965 and successor acts have transformed American society.
  • 11.11.7 – Explain how the federal, state, and local governments have responded to demographic and social changes such as population shifts to the suburbs, racial concentrations in the cities, Frostbelt-to-Sunbelt migration, international migration, decline of family farms, increases in out-of-wedlock births, and drug abuse.