Create Empathy and Understanding for Refugees by Using Student Videos
When used in classrooms, workshops and other educational settings, videos are a great tool to spark discussions and raise awareness about important issues. In this edition of Connect magazine, we bring you suggestions for discussions and activities to improve students’ intercultural competences. In addition to those activities presented in the article Bringing Refugees and Their Adopted Communities Together Through Intercultural Learning, teachers and educators can use this easy-to-do yet very effective activity based on a video submitted to the Plural+ Youth Video Contest, which explores young people’s creative views on migration, diversity and social inclusion.
Integration and acceptance of new members takes some work and effort from both the host communities and the new members. This activity will help students over the age of 13 understand basic notions related to education for peace, through the lens of migrants and refugees: their position around the world, reasons to migrate and the key formative role schools play. As a result, the participants in the activity will develop more empathy and improve their critical thinking skills.
As the topics discussed in this activity can be sensitive and very personal, please be sure to conduct the activity in an inclusive and mindful manner. Following the general structure and adjusting the debriefing questions facilitators can easily create variations and focus on similar issues.
Group size: 15 to 25
Time: 60 to 90 minutes
Materials: Internet connection, computer and video projection, papers, pens
Objectives: After this activity, the participants will:
- Understand and be able to explain who migrants and refugees are
- Have a better understanding of the different reasons why people migrate
- Have an improved understanding of the consequences of migrations
- Develop empathy and appreciation for the displaced people
- Understand the value of education
Notes for the facilitator:
Before conducting this activity, the facilitator should be familiar with the background information related to the video material used and be able to explain the basic concepts used in it to the participants. Review the glossary and resources presented at the end of this learning session outline for more information.
The activity is triggered by a short video produced by the students of Marefat School in Afghanistan. In it, a group of actively engaged middle school girls explore the impact of war on Afghan youth. In Afghanistan, 70% of girls and 50% of boys do not have the privilege of going to school, which makes the position of the girls narrating the video unusual. The news of war in their country is shown on television programs that the girls can watch and discuss among themselves.
The refugee boys shown in the video are displaced by conflict within Afghanistan, coming from Helmand to Kabul. They have to work to help support their struggling families who may live far away or in a refugee camp, which leaves little time to attend school and obtain a proper education. The video discusses ways to build a peaceful country and the power of education to create a safer future.
PART ONE: WATCH AND ANALYSE THE VIDEO
1.The facilitator introduces the activity by saying that the students will first watch a short video and then discuss some questions related to it. Invite students to watch the video carefully and ask the facilitator for any clarifications.
2. The facilitator plays the video “The Children of My Land and I” by students of Marefat School in Afghanistan.
3. Facilitate the discussion about the video using the questions below.
- How do the girls in the video feel about going to school? Why are they so energized about school? What impressions did you have of their school from the video?
- In Afghanistan, 70% of girls and 50% of boys do not attend school. How does that impact their country? What are the consequences for the country’s future development?
- Who are refugees and migrants? What are their different reasons to migrate? Describe life in the refugee camp that is shown in the video. Though there are only short scenes from the camp, what stood out for you?
- The girls speak of the refugee boys as exhibiting strength and self-sufficiency. What do those words mean to you? What is the source of this in the boys we see in the video? Can you describe ways where you and your friends exhibit strength and self-sufficiency in your daily lives?
- The girls speak about creating a country where the future is bright for the children and where nothing could harm them. They say this is what the refugee boys want as well. What do you think is needed to make that happen there? In your community?
PART TWO: CHOOSE ONE THING
1.After watching and discussing the video, move on to the second part of the activity which invites students to do some personal reflections. The facilitator should ask the students to think individually about the following question:
- If you had to leave home due to a war or a disaster and could only take one thing with you, what would it be?
2. Give the students a couple of minutes to reflect about the questions, then invite them to write down their answers. Once everyone is done, the students should form groups of 3 or 4 and talk with each other about their choices.
3. After the small group discussions, everyone comes back to the plenary group. Each small group should choose a representative who shares the main outcomes of their discussions.
4. In the end, the facilitator asks the following questions to debrief the activity:
- How did you feel when you had to choose only one thing to take with you?
- What were the items you chose to take with you if you had to escape from danger?
- Was it difficult to choose only one item? Why?
- Why did you choose these items?
- Was what you chose sentimental (emotional such as a photograph), practical (such as blankets), financially valuable (as jewellery, example), intellectual (as a book) or spiritual (something connected to your faith)?
- What did you learn from this activity about the experiences of refugees? How do they feel when leaving their homes?
PART THREE: TAKE ACTION
1.Invite the students to apply what they learned from watching the video and in the Choose One Thing activity in their everyday lives and in their communities. Use the following questions to guide the discussions:
- Do you know anyone who was forced to migrate?
- What types of assistance do they need now they are in our community? Do they have shelter, are they safe, able to stay healthy?
- How can we help migrant children in our school feel welcome and supported? In groups of three or four, choose one action you will focus on to help your migrant peers.
2. Encourage the students to explore what organizations in your community help refugee children and their families. Provide more information about them and ways to get involved.
This learning session outline was adapted from the Plural+ Discussion Guide developed by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migrations (IOM). Plural+ is a youth video contest that takes submissions from young people up to the age of 25 about their creative views on migration, diversity and social inclusion. AFS is among the partners supporting this initiative, awarding a prize for the video best representing the AFS educational values. See more here.
The facilitator should be familiar with and ready to share explanations for the following concepts during the activity:
- Refugee — According the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is a person who seeks asylum and safety in another part of their own country (internally displaced person) or in another country (stateless person). Because of poverty, violence, fear of retaliation, and lack of equal rights, refugees (who can include people of all ages) need shelter and are often in situations of acute danger. There are millions of vulnerable people who are refugees throughout the world.
- Migrant — According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there is no universally accepted definition for migrant. The term was usually understood to cover all cases where the decision to migrate was taken freely by the individual concerned without the intervention of external compelling factors. People who leave their habitual place of residence to settle outside their country of origin in order to improve the quality of life are seen as migrants. The term is loosely used to distinguish from refugees fleeing persecution.
- Refugee Camp — Refugee camps are places for children and families who need basic services after war or upheaval. Some refugee camps offer classes for students and aim to educate them so they will be able to enter the established national school system once their situation is stabilized.
- Helmand — A province in southern Afghanistan where a series of military operations were conducted disrupting daily life and leading to in-country migration to escape danger.
- Kabul — The capital and largest city located in the north-eastern part of Afghanistan. It has also suffered the ravages of war but there have been major efforts to rebuild it. Kabul is an economic center and a center for universities.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
UNHCR is a United Nations program mandated to protect and support refugees in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, in 1954 and 1981.
International Organization for Migration
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the principal intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering.
Plural+ Youth Video Festival
Plural+ is a joint initiative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which collects, screens and awards youth produced videos on migration, diversity and social Inclusion.
by Milena Miladinovic, Senior Writer & Social Marketing Specialist, AFS Intercultural Programs