Perspectives of a Refugee
Students reflect on how it must feel to quickly pack up and leave home with little warning and few possessions and then come to an unfamiliar new community. They read the stories of five refugees from four different countries and gain empathy and an understanding of their needs and struggles. Students assess the needs of refugees through a local nonprofit and plan a service project to address one of those needs.
The learner will:
- analyze his or her feelings about the life of a refugee.
- compare the experiences of five different refugees through their stories and discussion.
- investigate the needs of refugees.
- design and carry out a service plan that addresses the needs of refugees.
- student copies of handout, Just Imagine: Free Write
- student copies of Refugee Stories (virtual is best)
- Additional stories available from the UNHCR website: https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news-and-stories.html
- one copy for each group: Perspective of a Refugee, Group Response
- community: a group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a group having common interests and goals and who work together
- refugee: someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group; a refugee either cannot return home or is afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.
- resettlement: the process of helping a refugee find a new, permanent home when they cannot safely reside in a country of first asylum or return home
As a reflection ask students to write about one thing they learned about refugees after reading/hearing the stories of their lives (at the bottom of Handout Three).
After the service project, have students stand in a circle. Toss a beach ball from student to student. As a student catches the ball, he or she expresses one reflection about the service: how it went, what could be changed, what impact they had, how they feel about refugees, how they feel about service, etc.
UNHCR website: Refugee Stories
Giving students a short timed period (2-4 minutes), have them respond to the writing prompt on the handout below: "Just Imagine: Free Write" The key to a free write is students are recording their thoughts and feelings without stopping the writing process until the teacher calls "pencils down."
Free Write Prompt: Just imagine if today you and your family were forced from your home with only the clothes on your back. You had to run for your lives not knowing where to find help or safety. Once you found a place to stay you might have to start life all over again in a new country. How do you feel?
Read the essays from refugees from two different countries (attached Refugee Stories handout). Students work in groups of three to read and discuss the perspective of a refugee. Each group reads one essay and answers the questions on Handout One: Perspective of a Refugee, Group Response. The group members share three roles: reader, recorder, reporter. When the groups have completed the group response, they share their response with the rest of the class. All students take notes about the individuals. More than one group may read about the same refugee.
Student groups work for approximately 20-30 minutes to read the refugee's story and to discuss and answer the questions. Each group member should remember his/her role, but all students contribute to the small-group discussion.
The reporter from each group reads the group's responses to the questions. While each group is sharing, the remainder of the class records one fact about each individual.
Discuss the students' feelings about these stories. How do they feel about the way the refugees were treated in their new communities? Is there anything we can do help refugees feel comfortable in their new community? How can we educate people about how and why to make refugees feel welcome?
Guide the students to organize a service project. Have some students contact local groups that work with refugees to find out what their needs are. These students can report back to the group so they can decide what they can do to help. This may include a fundraiser, a collection drive for needed items (blankets, clothes, toiletries, shoes, boots, etc.), helping a refugee family settle in and learn about the area, or an advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the need for acceptance and empathy for people who have lost their homes and everything familiar.
Assess students on their attention to the refugee stories. Did they capture the big idea and record a response that shows they see the needs of refugees?
Service Preparation and Action: Students may contact local groups that work with refugees to find out what their needs are. These students report back to the group so they have accurate information about the needs to decide what they can do to help. The organization may be a local refugee resettlement organization. Theys may need volunteers to help a refugee family move into a new home, show a refugee how to use the local transit system, write a resume, or to take a group of refugee children to a zoo or museum. The students may choose to organize a fundraiser, a collection drive for needed items (blankets, clothes, toiletries, shoes, boots, etc.), or an advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the need for acceptance and empathy for people who have lost their homes and everything familiar. It is important to find out directly from the organization what the needs are before taking action.
Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
Standard VS 03. Providing Service
Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.
Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.