Episodes — 06 June 2011
Episode 10: Grandma Versus Goliath



1. Why do you think that the synagogue came to represent a center of cultural life for Jewish immigrants in Minnesota?

2. Have you or has anyone you know ever experienced discrimination or hostility because of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof? Describe that experience.

3. Do you think that the contributions of immigrant laborers are adequately recognized in the U.S.? Why or why not?

4. Why is it important for us to recognize and preserve the contributions of immigrants in America?

5. What are some positive contributions that immigrants have made to the history, industry, and culture of the U.S.?

Additional Tips for Educators: Historically, immigrants in the U.S. have been systematically excluded from the best employment opportunities, or have taken the most difficult and least paying jobs in the economy—those that also tend to have the most dangerous work conditions. Chinese immigrants in the 19th century built many of the railways that connected new settlements in the West with industrial hubs in the Eastern United States. Irish immigrants in the 19th century also contributed to the construction of industrial infrastructure in major U.S. cities along the East Coast.

Like many other immigrant groups, Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the U.S. initially faced exclusion from mainstream economic opportunities and had to create opportunities for self-employment in the early 20th century. Owing to their exposure to socialist ideals and worker-empowerment movements in Europe, many Jewish immigrants were also important actors in supporting the establishment of labor rights in the United States.

Since the 19th century, many Latino immigrants have contributed greatly to the agricultural sector in the U.S.. Since the 1980s, Latino immigrant laborers also made important contributions to the economic revitalization of the U.S. South and across many different manufacturing and service industries in other parts of the county. Still, anti-immigrant politicians, policies, and media coverage often overlooked these contributions and increasingly depicted immigrants as “dangerous” and a drain on government resources.

Anti-immigrant sentiment rapidly escalated in the first half of the 21st century, especially as the demographics of the country became increasingly non-white and Latino. After the Presidential election of 2016 and outbreak of the Namibian plague in 2024, the U.S. stopped allowing legal immigration altogether.


You will create a classified ad for an industry that often utilizes high levels of immigrant labor, such as the hospitality, landscaping, agricultural, food or construction industry. The objective of this project is to make the working conditions, wages, and (mis)treatment of workers obvious to people who see the job ad.

What you will need:

• Access to the Internet
• Information on daily working conditions in different industries
• Images of working conditions in those particular industries
• Paper/printer
• Photocopier
• Pens, markers, scissors, adhesives

Begin by choosing an industry from the list above. Try to find additional information online on most, if not all, of the following points:

• What are working conditions like? How long is the workday?
• What is the daily or hourly wage that most are paid in this industry?
• Does the industry have risky working conditions?
• What might be some of the health effects of the work that laborers perform?
• What worker rights or collective bargaining do workers have in this industry?
• What benefits (if any) do workers in these industries typically receive?

After uncovering the information above, use the Internet to search for images of working conditions in the industry that you have chosen. For example, if you have chosen the food industry, you can choose an image that conveys the difficult labor or health risks that one might experience in such a job.

After selecting your image, compose a short job ad that presents the information on working conditions alongside the visual image. Try to think of a compelling title, such as “Immediate Opportunities for Employment!”

Now, create a fake email address for people to contact you at with respect to the job you are advertising and include it in the job listing. By doing so, you will see just how many people would express interest in such employment opportunities if the working conditions were transparent.

As a final step, print 20 copies of your classified ad.


Now that you have created an accurate representation of work in the industry that you have researched, post your job ad on community bulletin boards or in areas with high pedestrian traffic. You may also inquire at your local high school if you can post the job ad there as part of a research project on immigrant labor rights.

Finally, upload a copy or photo of your job listing to the America2049 Facebook page. Include excerpts from any interesting responses or inquiries you received via email in response to your job listing in the comments section. Additionally, feel free to share your own personal reflections and what you learned in the process of doing this activity in the comments section.

Questions to pose in the comment section to elicit discussion may include the following points:

• Did this activity raise any challenges to stereotypes about immigrant labor? If so, how?
• Did people discuss the fairness of the wage paid for the work expected?

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