June 20th: World Refugee Day

English · 20 June 2021

“We can all be refugees / Nobody is safe, / All it takes is a mad leader /Or no rain to bring forth food,

We can all be refugees / We can all be told to go, / We can be hated by someone / For being someone.” – Benjamin Zephaniah, “We Refugees”, 2003 Since June 20, 2020, UN’s World Refugee Day makes us aware of the fact that every day, people across the globe are forced to leave their home escaping war, conflicts and persecution. 

From our perspective, it might be hard to understand how tough, threatening, and traumatising migration can be and, most of us have probably only a vague idea of what it means to leave everything behind. Literature, however, can provide us, and our students with paradigm shifts. On Lit4School, you will find resources that tackle the topics of immigration, intercultural contact as well as war and trauma. 

The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a graphic novel in pictures, which tells a challenging story about hope, following a refugee leaving his home country, travelling to and finally arriving in an unknown city. 

“We Refugees” by Benjamin Zephaniah reflects that every one of us can become a refugee, and that “we all came here from somewhere”.

 Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse is a novel in letters, written by the Jewish girl Rifka, who documents her escape from Russia to the USA. 

Also, this short animated movie by the BBC tells the story of Iayd and his family escaping from Damascus and can serve as an introduction to a unit on migration. Another animated story by BBC learning following young Ali makes us aware of how utterly important it is to support, protect and include new neighbours.

Finally, this cartoon by Andy Singer can serve as a reason to discuss and rethink US immigration politics in class, as the founding fathers of the United States were European settlers (but not the first people on American ground). 

I hope, you find these suggestions helpful. However, if you know other resources for teaching migration in the EFL classroom, please, make a suggestion.

Kind regards and stay safe everyone,