Raising Awareness about the Situation of Newly Arrived Migrants

Angeliki's Kougiourouki Learning diary

Hello, I am Angeliki from Greece and I am a primary school teacher. I teach in an Experimental Primary School in Alexandroupolis, a city in NorthEast Greece. I am a lifelong learner and you can often meet me in MOOCs and eTwining Leaarning Events, Webinars, online and onsite seminars where I'm trying to learn new things to refresh my teaching methods. I am also an eTwinning ambassador in my region and an addicted eTwinner!!

..this is my school!!

I teach in 1rst Exmerimental Primary school for about 12 years now. It is the school that I started years ago...as a pupil....

My school's building is one of the greatest and oldest classical buildings of Alexandroupolis. It is the building of the Academy of Pedagogical Studies which took the name from the donor George Zarifis.

My school's main purpose is to become a vibrant learning organization, a creative community of students, teachers, parents, and knowledge.

In this school attend pupils aged 7-12 years old and from 1rst till 6th grade. During the day pupils learn about Greek language, grammar and literature, math's, history, science, geography and they are doing religious lessons. Pupils are also learning English, German and French. They learn simple things about computers and web tools in the school computer lab. During the week they have the chance to come in contact with arts: they attend music course and they have the opportunity to express ourselves through theater and painting. They are also doing gym. After the formal program pupils have also the chance to attend courses in learning clubs.

Module 1: The situation of newly arrived migrants

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the backgrounds, journeys, reasons for leaving and current legal and living conditions of newly arrived migrants in Europe
  • Identify and get in contact with an organisation or informal group working with newly arrived migrants in your locality, region, or country
  • Investigate the background and current situation of newly arrived migrants in your locality, region, or country

Useful advices to teachers

  1. Avoid talking about the "refugees"
  2. Describe the diversity of reasons that people leave their countries
  3. Talk about the situation in their countries of origin
  4. Examine the journeys that refugees take to Europe

Newly arrived "migrants": the multitude of people arriving recently in Europe

Getting started: my contribution

I am a primary school teacher in an Experimental primary school in Alexandroupolis, a city located in NorthEast Greece, near the Greek and Turkish borders. In our school we don't have yet newly arrived kids. Refugees coming from Syria with boats, stay in our city for a short time and then move to hosting centers in other Greek cities. But I still remember the 2 girls who came 3 years ago in our school's gym club. They were from Avganistan and they stayed here for a couple of months waiting to travel to German to meet their parents. I remember myself being uncofident to handle the emotional part of the topic. This school year I started an eTwinning project about the origins of the Mediterranean Sea and the emotions we feel seeing all this bad situation, trying to discuss the topic with the pupils. This is the reason I joined this course hoping to be able to get more knowledge and handle the topic in the best way.

1.2 Why do people migrate?

Migration journeys

Why people leave their country?

1.3 Who are newly arrived migrants?

We and our students shoud not think about "migrants" or "refugees" as an anonymous and homogenous mass of people, but rather connect these terms to individuals and their stories.

Background of migrants

Individual stories: a range of different examples and diversity of backgrounds of the newly arrived migrants

Who are newly arrived migrants?

My contribution: In my city there is one of the hospitality centres of ARSIS, an NGO, for young people for Youth Support. Since September 2016 ARSIS operates a new Transitional hosting structure for unaccompanied minors in Alexandroupolis, for boys from 5-12 years and girls from 5 to 18 years. The hostel has a total capacity of 25 children. The children are given shelter, food and all the necessary: (clothing, footwear, hygiene, calling cards / phone cards, bus tickets etc.), while their medical needs are covered. Qualified staff provide psychosocial support, legal counseling and representation and pedagogical supervision. Children have the opportunity to attend school, participate in educational and creative activities inside and within the hostel and also to move to the center of my city to achieve their social inclusion. Young people who live in ARSIS are form Syria and Avganistan.

1.4 Journeys to Europe

This is the story of Malak, a 7 year old Syrian refugee arriving in Europe by boat. This is the first video I show my pupils when uintroducing them them the topic of our eTwinning project.

...and here is one more video with positive images of migration journeys

Journeys to Europe: true stories

My contribution: Some months ago I introduced some the firts video with Malak to my pupils and also the partner school pupils of our eTwinning project which has similar topic. I still remember my pupils reaction and how emotioned they got!! Then, we made some boats with paper handicrafts, wrote on them words that kids like Malak want and need to continue their lives and put them into our school's corridor to show their migration jurney. This reminds me the story of two young girs at the age of 13 and 14 who came to my school to attend the rythm gym clab. They were from Avganistan and they came to my city after a long journey, waiting from an NGO to find their parents and move on....They were very well educated, they new the English language and they were very kind. After staying here for about 5 months the NGO found their parents in Germany, prepared their papers and they left to meet them.

1.5 Arriving in Europe

What is the situation in shelters?

Rights and responsibilities

Which is the situation in my city?

My contribution: Unaccompanied minors who live in the Transitional hosting structure in my city stay here for a couple of months waiting from the NGO to find their parents or other relatives, prepare their papers and then go and meet them. They stay here for ten months maximum.

Module 2. Raising awareness and fostering informed debate

Learning Objectives

  • Develop a range of ideas for activities on how to raise awareness with your students
  • Think about the role of social media in shaping many views and discussions and how to address this with your students
  • Design a number of activities in a lesson plan that raise awareness and highlight the local situation of newly arrived migrants
  • Review the work of three peers, thereby reflecting about your own work and gaining further ideas for your own lesson plan

2.1 General Strategies & Activities

  • Test the students' knowlegde about the situation and highlight common misconceptions (refugee chair activity)
  • Invite refugees or migrants into the classroom
  • Ask students what would make them leave their country
  • Understand where they are coming from
  • Counter with facts
  • Get students to see refugees as individuals
  • Get students to call authorities to get facts
  • Highlight personal stories

"When discussions become heated, for example when talking about terrorist attacks, a topic often associated with refugees, it is essential that we as teachers remain calm and factual but at the same time don't shy away from openly engaging with our students' feelings and beliefs."

Have you previously addressed these topics with your students? What was their reaction?

My contribution: When we first tried to discuss this topic into the classroom while developing our relevant eTwinning project, we started by defining the terms of refugee and a migrant and then I saw them some videos suggested in the "I AM SYRIA" website. Students got confused trying to understand who started this war. We had a long conversation, because they had a lot to tell. It is a topic that they watch at the news or discuss with their parents and of course the sight of little kids trying to survive after a long journey into the boats in the Mediterranean Sea affects them emotionaly.

2.2 Finding External Partners

Finding external partners

My contribution: I haven't yet invite a newlly arrived migrant into my classroom but I remember some a couple of years ago the 2 girls from Avganistan who were attending lessons in another primary school and they were coming to us only to attend the gym rythm club. They were shy at the beginning and we, pupils and I tried to make them feel comfortable among us. We were asking them some questions about their personal story trying not to make them feel uncomfortable. But If I would like to bring a newlly arrived migrant into my classroom I would ask for help the ARSIS, an NGO for young people located in my city, to advice me.

2.3 Activities - Countries of Origin & Reasons for Leaving

  • Let students researchphotos from the regions where migrants are coming from-both past and present
  • Compare photos now and then
  • What would you like to see as a tourist
  • Interview people who have travelled there
  • Discuss about conflicts. How is the world population distributed?

Origins and Reasons for Leaving

My contribution: I visited "I AM SYRIA" website where teachers can find several resources to introduce the topic to pupils. Personaly I used some videos suggested there. We discussed a lot after watching them and then shared our emotions. But I would definitely use some of the ideas suggested by Erica in the video

2.4 Activities - Experiences of Fleeing

Important activities to raise awareness:

  • Storytelling
  • 1. Expose students to personall stories
  • 2. Students ask relatives about experiences of being on the run or leaving their country
  • 3. Use videos of UNICEF (for example)
  • Discussion about migrant routes
  • 1. Students pack an imaginary bag- what would they take on their journey
  • 2. Students discuss where they would flee. What challenges would there be to reach this place
  • 3. Students play the computer game: againstallods

How is to work as a volunteer with newly arrived migrants?

Experiences of Flight: Do you have any other ideas how to address these topics with your students?

My contribution: I think that it is a benefit for my pupils to listen to personal stories. So, an interesting activity could be my narration of my grandmom's migration from Turkey during 1922 and then I could invite a children from the ARSIS NGO to talk about its personal story and what forced him/her to leave its country. Then I could ask my pupils to search and find how people in our community (the church, the municipality, simple people) responded to refugee crisis and maybe interview someone who is part of an active organization

Here is an interesting video to introduce to our pupils the activity that Erica suggested (Students pack an imaginary bag- what would they take on their journey)

2.5 Activities - Arriving in a New Country

Iportant activities:

  • Discuss about challenges of arriving in a new country (brainstorming)
  • Discuss the pilars of identity

Arriving in a new country: Do you have any other ideas how to address these topics with your students? Has Xenophobia already been an issue with your students? If so, how did you react? Whom do you think you could ask for support in such a situation?

My contribution: I could say, according to the short experience that I have, that issues like xenophobia wont be an obstacle for my pupils or my school. We have faced similar circumstances in the past when we had to welcome young children coming along from The Wars of the Former Yugoslavia during the 1990's or families who abandoned Georgia and Armenia after the war in Abkhazia.

2.6 The Role of Social Media

How can we help our students to understand that while social media is a great way to share opinions, not all information posted there is truthful and complete? How can we help our students to understand and shape the experiences happing on social media in a positive way?

What can a teacher do?

  • Be proactive: don't wait for the topic to come up. Create activities
  • Make it topic in the classroom, whether there are newly arrived migrants or not
  • Encourage and continue the conversation online, on social media and promote responsible behaviour

Tips for teachers:

The role of social media: How can we positively shape the use of social media when it comes to the topic of newly arrived migrants. Social media can be a powerful tool for positive and negative use, so how can we help our students understand and shape the exchanges happening on social media in a positive way?

My contribution: I agree with the role of the teacher that Alicia suggested. We should be proactive and discuus the topic in the classroom, whether there are newly arrived migrants or not. Web sites like I AM SYRIA, NGO's or EE facebook official pages could help us to discuss with our pupils how social media handle the topic.

Photos retrieved from Vice staff: http://bit.ly/2l6EMzd and spark adobe


Created with images by vintagedept - "Kos Windsurf Zone landing location" • vintagedept - "Life jackets on the beach" • Alkudaymi - "sunset ruhayba syria" • Arian Zwegers - "Latakia, sunset" • Tim Gillin - "Paddington from Peru, the immigrant"

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