Immigration: Involve your classroom in a global conversation

by Gemma Bradshaw

Still from SUNFLOWER SEEDS

Over the past few years immigration has become a worldwide touchpoint.

Whether it’s the refugee crisis in Europe or the travel ban in the US, immigration has become one of the most urgent social justice issues of our time. Not only in the headlines, but very much in the daily experiences of many students, whatever their nationality.

That said, immigration is a topic full of myths and stereotypes that can feel intimidating to navigate. It has become so politically charged that it can be difficult to know where to start the conversation.

This is exactly why we need to find space to have safe and open discussions about immigration in our classrooms. Conversations that build connection between the global situation and our local, everyday experiences.

My New Neighbor Challenge

This was the motivation for the theme of our 2018 Impact Media Challenge — My New Neighbor.

We wanted to see the bonds we build when classrooms around the world watch one film, take one action and become part of a global conversation for change.

For this Impact Media Challenge, we’ve paired award-winning film SUNFLOWER SEEDS with a classroom activity for students to connect with the current global immigration crises and the diverse communities in their own neighborhood.

In SUNFLOWER SEEDS we meet a group of children surviving on the streets, originally from Afghanistan, they work all day selling sunflower seeds in the city’s suburban parks.

Through the intimate storytelling of this documentary, students will both empathize with the boys’ day to day lives, and at the same time begin to question bigger themes that intersect with immigration such as the financial crisis, unemployment and xenophobia.

This is a springboard for questioning our own assumptions about immigrants closer to home. We challenge students to meet with someone in their neighbourhood from a different country and begin to see what connects us rather that separates us.

As part of this Impact Media Challenge, we’re encouraging educators to share their students experiences with the SIMA Classroom community. We can’t wait to see students’ responses to the Challenge.

Take Part

We hope you’ll join us by signing up for the 2018 Impact Media Challenge. You’ll get free access to the film and resources that will inspire your classroom with new perspectives.

We’re thrilled that SUNFLOWER SEEDS has been selected for this month’s International Film Club (a project of iEarn).

You can connect your classroom with a global partner to watch the documentary together and then engage with students in a different country on collaborative activities.

Find out more about this virtual exchange opportunity here.