I Learn America

I Learn America

USA, 2013, 93 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Coming of Age, Documentary, Social Issues, Teen
Program: Documentary
Language: English, Spanish, Urdu, Polish English Sub-Titles

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This fascinating documentary follows five young immigrants attending New York City’s International High School at Lafayette, a school dedicated to teaching newly arrived teenagers from over 50 countries. For one year, filmmakers Jean-Michel Dissard and Gitte Peng follow the teens and the challenges they face adapting to a new language and culture.

The subjects of the film are shown both in the classroom and at home, where they struggle with the universal woes of adolescence, but also with reuniting with families they haven’t seen in years. Feeling isolated, uncertain about the future, and straddling two cultures, the teens are plunged into the complexities of life in America. The proverbial strangers in a strange land strive to adapt and create a future they can call their own. Part of the weft and weave of immigrant culture in America, these young newcomers will shape the 21st century with their experiences. The five students open their lives to us, sharing their stories and the challenges they face, coming to a new place while preserving ties to their native lands.

With a growing number of young people arriving from around the world knowing little English, being unfamiliar with American culture, and in some cases, having little formal education, I Learn America is a tale of the resilience of the human spirit and a fresh perspective on the immigration debate.

In cooperation with Allstate®, Facing History and Ourselves

DIRECTOR: Jean-Michel Dissard, Gitte Peng
Producer: Jean-Michel Dissard, Gitte Peng
Editor: Alison Shurman
Cinematographer: Jean-Michel Dissard, Andrew Freiband
Principal Cast: Sandra Staniszewska, Jennifer Vasquez, Sing Pau, Brandon Garcia, Itrat Batool

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