For Tuppin Hauschild, a Grand Rapids Public Museum field trip was a way to introduce Lee Middle and High School immigrant students to the community. But the recent outing turned into something bigger.
As the 15 English-language-learner students, grades 6 through 11, toured the museum’s permanent “Newcomers: The People of This Place” exhibit on immigration, they could relate in ways many visitors cannot. They are modern-day examples of people who have come to the United States seeking education and opportunities.
“There is a lot of interesting stuff here about my country and people,” said Zainab Ahmed, who came to Grand Rapids eight months ago from Iraq. “It’s similar to me. We faced a lot of issues and problems.”
The Newcomers exhibit documents the history of immigration of 45 ethnic groups to the area, and contains 600 artifacts and images. Like those who came before them, Lee students said their families came seeking opportunities for work and education.
Of the students in Godfrey-Lee Public School’s Middle and High School’s Newcomers Program, many have been in the U.S. for less than a year. They are from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Iraq and other countries.
A Meaningful Gift
Tuppin Hauschild’s presence on the trip also had special meaning. She spent 16 years in the district as a ELL teacher and English-language coordinator and her husband, retired salesman O.D. Hauschild, also worked part time in the district.
Their five children knew what they would cherish: giving back to the school and the ELL program. They funded the field trip for Tuppin and O.D.’s 50th anniversary present. The couple helped lead it, connecting with the students as they examined artifacts and read informational text.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Tuppin said.
“My parents have been an amazing example to all of us in many ways,” said daughter Gretchen Mousel. “They both have a real connection to the school and the program. This was a way we can really honor them… My mother was really great about giving those kids life experiences.”
Tuppin said exposure to language and information about immigrants like themselves and the Grand Rapids community help newcomers develop a sense of belonging.
ELL teacher Brenda Caballero said the trip was inspiring and meaningful.
“It’s cool for the students to see there are people from so many different places, to make connections and understand the history and that they are part of that history too,” she said.
Sophomore Aylin Jose observed the exhibit, noting wooden shoes from The Netherlands and an antique popcorn truck.
“I like to see the flag of my country,” said the Dominican Republic native.