Setting the Stage
Introduce the story by telling students they will be watching a film titled, Making it in America, about a woman from El Salvador who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager to escape the violence of the civil war. The central character in Making it in America, Alma Velasco, works at a clothing factory, American Apparel, in Los Angeles, and is striving to build a future for her three children. Ask students if they know someone (either a friend, family member, or a person in their community) who has migrated to the United States. What country are they from and how did they arrive in the U.S.?
Explain to students that the U.S. is one of the top destinations for immigration worldwide. The phrases "the American Dream" and "the land of opportunity" are attributed to the possibilities available in the United States. Ask students if they have heard these phrases and what they might know about them.
Share with students the following definition of "the American Dream," by The American Academy of Achievement: "In this land of opportunity, it means something different for everyone. But no matter what the definition, each achiever's dream is the key to his or her vitality. It nurtures the excitement of limitless possibility, urging us to plan, to work, and ultimately to believe in ourselves."
Ask students what they think of this quote. Do they have a dream or goal that they would like to live in their lifetime? If so, what? What qualities do they think are needed to be able to attain one's goals and dreams?