Life: Immigration Game


The inspiration for the project came from my personal experience as an immigrant to the United States. We moved to the Boston area in 1984 with my father, who worked for a French High Tech company, in what was then the Silicon Valley of the East, the 128 belt. We stayed mostly because my mother, who could not work as a teacher in France because she did not have the required diplomas, was able to have a very fulfilling career as a pre-K teacher in a French American school. My siblings and I also enjoyed having a much more flexible education system here, which allowed us to explore who we were more deeply. My father was also making more money then he could have in France, and was able to work well beyond the required retirement age in France (where he would have been forced to retire).

The advantages offered to us here came at a cost, of course. Depending on the political or cultural climate, being an immigrant can be tough: cultural references are different, there can be language barriers, and we are here "alone", meaning my extended family to whom I was very close growing up, has now drifted out of my life. I have suffered through World War II jokes on a regular basis when I worked in corporate settings, I regularly get interrogated as to my national origins, and I have to listen to numerous ways people know about French culture.

In late 2015, when candidates for the presidency were starting to talk about their platforms, I wanted to have a way for native born Americans to experience the other side of immigration: the good, the bad, and the ugly! I wanted a project where people could walk in my shoes, and learn to be a little kinder to folks who have a different background and experience from them. All the tiles in the game are based on true facts, meaning the action in the tile actually happened to an immigrant. Some are based on my own experience, some on interviews I conducted with friends, family and acquaintances. Others are based on research I conducted in the last two years. Below are the books and websites that I used for the project. I encourage anyone interested in the subject to read Crossing the Boulevard, The Death of Josseline, and Immigration Stories: Geo Detention Center as a good starting point.

- Crossing the Boulevard, by Lehrer & Sloan
- A Nation of Nations, by Tom Gjelten
- The Death of Josseline, by Margaret Regan
- Stories of Diversity, by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher
- Immigration Stories: Geo Detention Center, by Loretta Perry-Wilborne
- Through their Eyes: Experiences of Mexican Immigrants in Green Bay, Wisconsin, by Kathryn Ebben
- discussion/forum on culture shock