Vilma Matos, writer and creator of “My Journey to the United States,” or “Mis Pasos A Los Estados Unidos,” made this board game for people ages eight and older, and it is meant to help the players feel more comfortable talking about their journey out of their home country.
Because this game can lead to the upbringing of many emotions, it is preferred that the game is facilitated by an adult such as a teacher or counselor. The game can be used as an ice breaker to help get the students more comfortable with talking to each other.
Although there are ways to win the game, that isn’t the object of it. Matos’ hope is that the players feel as though they are traveling back to the United States once again and can get reacquainted with feelings they felt during that journey. Matos even made sure to keep some of the game fun and uplifting by adding in cards that ask the players questions about their country and culture.
This board game is a new and innovative way to get children and teens to feel better about their travels to the United States, and to get them to realize they are not alone in their experiences. Each player will have a different story to tell, but everyone should be able to relate to each other in one way or another.
And if someone is playing the game who has never had to leave their home country, this is a good way for them to sit and learn about their fellow players and classmates – if, of course, the people telling their story is comfortable with that person being there, listening in.
The instructions book comes with information for all involved: the objective, the rules, information for facilitators, players, teens, and background information as well. In it, Matos tells anyone reading it about how she came to wanting to create this game. As a social worker, she had the chance to meet with many patients who met the description of people this board game reaches out to. Eventually, she realized there wasn’t a game that targeted this group of people, so she decided to create this game as an “ice breaker” to get people talking.
“I never did find a therapeutic game that would help provide support and break the emotional silence of these children,” Matos said in the instructions book. “I decided it was time to develop the game myself and as the saying goes, ‘The rest is history.’”
The website for the game (ELLgames.com) contains information about Matos’ background, testimonials about the game, and ways to purchase the board game if someone wanted to facilitate it themselves.