Interpreting Immigration at the US/Mexico Border

Published: Jul 08 2020

Were you one of the millions of viewers who didn't give away their shot at watching the Hamilton premiere on Disney+ last weekend? Billed as "the ultimate immigrant success story," the blockbuster musical was penned by and starred a man who grew up in an immigrant community playing the only Founding Father not from America. Lin Manuel-Miranda told Oprah that, "As an immigrant, you work three times as hard and are promised maybe a fraction as much." This fact, not the choreographed chronicle of Alexander, more closely reflects the lived experience of Tim Leon-Getten and his "Spanish for Spanish Speakers" students.

Most of Tim’s ancestors settled in Minnesota from Ireland during the Potato Famine. His great-great-grandmother was the first European born along the shores of Lake Minnetonka. His other side of the family came from Sweden in the 1880’s and his great-grandfather Carl Gustav wrote the fight song for the University of Minnesota, where Tim earned his graduate degree. Tim’s path to teaching Spanish began when he loved learning as an exchange student in Chile and later Spain. Twenty-nine years later, we have the privilege of talking with him about immigration and his students at Open World Learning Community in Saint Paul, MN.