Can young people change the national conversation about refugees?

By Ash Kosiewicz
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Learn more about a new educational curriculum that explores the voices and experiences of refugees.

When Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old girl from Sweden, stood up to speak at a UN conference in Poland last December, she called for action on an urgent, global issue that is often mischaracterized and de-personalized: climate change.

No jargon. No misinformation. Instead, hers was a call to action from one generation to another about a worsening problem with real human consequences.

“The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday,” she said. “If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.”

Greta has inspired millions of people to take action. Now, thanks to a new curriculum developed in collaboration with Oxfam, students in the US will be able to add their voices like Greta to a national conversation about another highly politicized issue of global concern.

How we see and treat refugees.

What’s in the curriculum?

As part of the We The Future campaign, Oxfam has teamed up with youth leaders across the country to launch the Education Amplifier program.

Every month, campaign youth leaders like Oxfam’s Isra Chaker, a Syrian-American woman, share lesson plans to provide students a chance to discuss youth leadership, identity, and social issues in classrooms alongside everyday subjects.

Chaker’s lesson plan explores the refugee experience, the US travel ban, and some ways that activists and artists, including herself, are using their voices to advocate for refugees. The information—shared through art created by refugees, the written word, and other interactive elements—is being shared with the hopes that young people across the US will be inspired to take action in support of justice and equality.

“This is a fight, not just for today or tomorrow, or even this year,” Chaker says. “It’s about a fight to reclaim the vision of the Statue of Liberty, of welcoming people no matter where they come from.”

Who is Isra?

Isra Chaker is the Migration and Protection Campaign Lead at Oxfam America. A social justice activist and public speaker, Isra advocates with and for vulnerable people such as refugees, people seeking asylum, and holders of temporary protected immigration status.

Being personally impacted by the travel ban—and not being able to reunite with her extended family in Syria—Isra is passionate in her work for reuniting families and advocating for vulnerable people.

How can I learn more?

The lesson plan culminates with students using their own voices to create art or letters to send to Isra at Oxfam to express what they know about refugees and what they would like her to say when she advocates for them.

Visit our website over the next few months as we document how students and educators are engaging with these new tools and ideas. In the meantime, check out our social media toolkit and curriculum that we’re providing educators across the US and share these messages about refugees with your own community.


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