In the aftermath of one of the most divisive elections in our history, and in light of the possible presidential immigration ban barring people from entering the United States, we’re left with trying to explain to our learners what it all means. Their study of human rights along with a diverse classroom population adds further importance to our role as educators in a global world.
Learners need to know that refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants fall under the category of immigration, but there is a difference. They need to understand the enormity of the refugee crisis. This includes not only where they come from but also who makes up the majority of the refugee population.
The following resources proved invaluable in helping our students put the refugee crisis in perspective. It helped them realize the massive humanitarian needs refugees face around the world.
This animation from TED Education helps students understand what the term refugee means and how it is different from asylum seeker and migrant. The video provides the perfect introduction to the topic and can easily be used with elementary students.
This is the story of how the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was established to help those whose lives were uprooted by conflict or natural disaster. The video explains the historic role of the UNHCR from 1950 to the present.
The interactive map plots the migration of refugees around the world along a timeline that begins in the year 1975. The project uses United Nations data to tell the story of the millions of registered refugees under UN protection. The circles around each country adjust in size to show the flow of refugees as they expand and contract from a particular location. The lines that branch out indicate where the refugees sought asylum.
|Source: The Refugee Project|
With the number of displaced people reaching the highest levels since post World War II, these maps and charts provide students with a visual look at the statistical information regarding the spike in the number of refugees around the globe.
Historically, the United States has never shut the door on refugees; yet, the political rhetoric and misinformation over the last several weeks regarding the immigration ban has confused some of our learners. This video from the The International Rescue Committee seeks to present the real facts about refugees seeking asylum in the United States and the vetting process.
The magnitude of the current global refugee crisis is highlighted in this UNHCR video. The forced displacement rose significantly in 2015, and it is the first time in history that the number of displaced persons surpassed 60 million. We believe students need to recognize this crisis beyond media blasts to ban immigration; this is about real people, and sadly many of them are the same ages as those we teach.
One of the projects our students complete each year is the study of immigration from the early nineteenth century to modern day. They learn that people leave their homelands because of political, economic, and social reasons. It’s not unusual for a student to discover or report on how their own ancestors were forced to flee their homelands. They, too, were refugees.