Empathy Based Museum Immigrant Program

In today’s political climate, it is important that we build empathy towards other people who are unlike them. After taking a look at our programs, the Director of Education and I thought that the Immigrant program could use a face lift and that incorporating empathy into that would be a good starting point.

I started this project in the summer of 2019 and wrapped it up in October of that year. This program is the first museum program I created, so I have to say I was a bit lost when I started. It was quite a journey to the programs completion, which involved a lot of researching and meetings with a retired teacher who was also a education volunteer at the museum. I learned a lot from this programs creation both about museum education and immigration programs in museums.

The new Wisconsin Maritime Museum Immigrant Program has yet to be launched as it is still in the early piloting phase. The program starts off with a little background on immigration, immigration specifically during World War II and immigration in Wisconsin. From there the program turns into an immersive experience. Students get a a card which tells them about their immigrant and they become that immigrant for the rest of the program. Topics we talk about and experience during the program include: bartering, medical exams upon arrival and how these experiences make them feel. The program then concludes with a talk about today’s immigrants and refugees.

One thing I love about this program is that there are activities before and after their visit to the museum. Before the visit the teachers is supposed to introduce them to the topic, so that they have an idea of what to expect. For after the visit there are activities which allow the students to reflect on their experiences at the museum and there is also a short survey for the teacher to fill out.

With this program, we hope that the experiences and things learned at the museum stay with them longer than a normal visit and program would.

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