Students Build “The Wall,” Bringing Immigrant Stories to Life

Chicago Tech Academy Students will present “Nadie Es Ilegal,” or “Nobody is Illegal,” during Spring Exhibtion 2017 on Thursday, June 1. Exhibition is a bi-annual event hosted by ChiTech. Students, parents, and community partners gather to see what the students have been working on and celebrate innovation and deeper learning.

With the help of Spanish I and II teachers, Marisol Del Rio and Rachel Hollander, students conducted interviews with immigrants from several countries and constructed a large faux-brick wall on which to display their stories.

“Going into this unit and with the current media climate, we wanted the students to understand that documented and undocumented immigrants aren’t just from Latin America or Mexico,” Del Rio said.

Del Rio and Hollander were able to coordinate interviews with community members and even fellow students who told their stories about their experiences with immigration.  

ChiTech Junior, Tino T., interviewed a fellow student who chose to remain anonymous for privacy. When he heard about the project, Tino was excited.

“I thought it sounded fun. We’ll finally get to learn about us!,” he said, but was unsure how the interviews would translate into a final project.

Tino was already friends with the student he interviewed. But after hearing their story, Tino felt more deeply connected.

“You learn about the challenges they faced and what they did to survive,” he said.

Exhibition is a part of the school’s Project Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. Instead of final exams, students and teachers collaborate on cumulative projects that showcase what the students have learned.

Del Rio and Hollander hoped to alter the way students felt about each other and their neighbors, undocumented or not.

“It changed their perspective,” Del Rio said. “In a Spanish class, we have to understand the different perspectives and what people have to go through on their journey coming to another country. It’s about having compassion for other people who are different,” she said.

Tino now has a better understanding of his own family, in which there are a few immigrants. He also hopes that people who view the exhibit will also gain a deeper understanding of human connection.

“We all want to live as human. We just want to have a regular life. That’s what these people want,” he said. “It opens your mind and heart just hearing the stories.”

Spring Exhibition 2017 is open to all, but attendees must RSVP at For more information about Exhibition and Project Based Learning, please visit or contact Kelly Jones, Executive Director of Community Engagement at

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