I think that there might be a couple of approaches to go ahead in teaching this to students. In my mind, I think that the opening discussion needs to center on the immigrant experience. Perhaps, this can take on different forms. There might be a lesson regarding the historical condition of immigration in America, pointing out that groups like the Irish, Eastern Europeans, and the Germans were all recipients of malevolent treatment upon their arrival into American society. Certainly, this is something that the Chang family experiences. The question becomes whether or not their own sense of economic prosperity can transcend such a reality, whether or not such a reality exists, or if there are elements that can never be overcome. It might be a very good discussion to have with students, and perhaps the web could be a good resource to facilitate this discussion.
I think that contrasting Jen's narrative with an author's like Amy Tan's in The Joy Luck Club could be very interesting in terms of how students could perceive what it means to be a so- called "hyphenated" Americans. What it means to be Asian- Americans and how one can understand it could be very interesting to contrast both stories and both ideas. For example, reading Jen's story and then watching the opening of film version of Tan's work could be really interesting to see what will emerges from comparing both. In this, using the idea of compare and contrast could be interesting in terms of a teaching tool.
Thanks Akannan. I think your idea of opening discussion is good and students can then have some background first. (My students are asians as well).
Do you find any good references that analyze the text thoroughly? Sorry for asking for too much as I am a totally green teacher teaching my very first lesson this week.