Refugee Stories from Two Different Times and Places

9, 10, 11, 12

The students compare and contrast the stories of refugees from different conflicts and times. They identify features and events in the refugees' lives, and form questions to guide discussion. 

Photo Credit: Refugees by Global Panorama is licensed under CC by 4.0 

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 50-Minute Class Period

The learners will:

  • read accounts of refugees from WWII, Sudan, and the Syrian conflict. 
  • analyze conditions that impacted the refugees' lives and identify what their needs may be. 
  • form questions that arise from reflection on the readings. Discuss.

Student copies of the refugee stories (see handout below)


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Ask the students, "What do you think are the factors in a conflict that result in refugees needing to flee?" Discuss their ideas based on the readings and discussions in the past lessons. 

  2. Each student reads about two different refugees and completes the chart in the Refugee Stories handout. Students read to learn about the person's life before leaving their country, what caused the person to leave, details about the trip, two needs the person had, and who might have helped with these needs. Then, they form questions that arise from reflections on the readings and comparisons.

    Note: The teacher can assign the refugee stories based on reading level or topic, or allow students to pick. Two of the stories are about WWII refugees, two are Syrian refugees, and one was a refugee from Sudan. 

  3. Debrief and Sharing – Match students with other students to share brief details about the people they read about. Tell them to give a brief summary and share and discuss some of their observations.

    Then, in the whole group, have the students share their key observations about the similarities and differences in the different scenarios. The teacher draws out thoughts about the needs people had, who might have helped, and how. 

  4. Allow time for sharing questions and classmates' responses. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
      3. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.