Raising Awareness about the Situation of Newly Arrived Migrants Teacher Academy



Course Introduction

about me

My name Ekaterini Papas-Rotko suggests mixed nationalities (Polish and Greek) followed- believe me - by mixed personalities .I have been teaching English for thirty five years, which again the data, will tell you much about my age. Well, not extremely young any more, but still young in spirit :-). For three years I have been this lucky teacher who was given special hours to introduce PBL on separate lessons with each class. I give the examples on methodology of this approach, show students group dynamics and what wonders this knowledge does when it comes to planning, conducting and presenting the project. All this I am honored to introduce in The Wańkowicz Private High School in Katowice, Poland,Complex of Silesian International Schools in Katowice, Poland which host students from all over the world making me encounter multicultural issues every day. Together with my teen-students we teach each other multi-culture, tolerance and respect to the different. Currently I coordinate two Erasmus+ project of KA-1 and KA-2 actions. One of them treats about migrants and raising awareness of the people who are supposed to help them when they find peace in our countries. As we all know, this is a challenge for every person, institutions and governments.

test completed


  • What the history and tradition of migration in your country can teach us today?
  • Poland has had a very painful experience of human rights violation in Auschwitz during the Second World War, which triggered massive migrations of the Jews and other nations fleeing our country because of waiting death for not fitting the Nazi's pattern. And this in an unexpected and negatively surprising that although we were welcomed to the other countries after the war because all seemed to understand the situation, we Poles also appear no to have learned our lesson by refusing now opening the door for people who just like us 70 years ago, are forced by the falling bombs to escape their countries leaving behind all they have. I am a patriot, however I must admit that although we have also good examples in our country of ethnic and national groups coexisting together, we completely fail when it comes to the current exodus of people fearing islamisation for no reason at all. It is a shame to even mention that my country did not agree to admit the quotes of migrants agreed upon with the EU not even thinking and reflecting why the immigrants do not really want to stay and settle down in Poland. It is hard for me to confess that Polish teachers must learn a lot to provide bona fide knowledge about other, different but not hostile cultures and try to change the limitations in the way of thinking which heads for intolerance and xenophobia.
  • What local organisations exist that accompany newly arrived migrants?
  • http://fundacjaestera.pl/en
  • http://www.pah.org.pl/nasze-dzialania/218/5555/syria_konflikt_wciaz_trwa
  • http://www.interkulturalni.pl/strona-glowna-2.html
  • http://emigrant.net.pl/
  • What living conditions do newly arrived migrants have and under which legal guidelines must they live (personal stories)?
  • The most touching stories have been the ones detailing the arduous journeys that refugees have undertaken to escape the situation in their home country. One, particularly touching is the story of Hashem Alsouki (9 June 2015). His story across Europe in trains, is compelling for many reasons. It reveals many truths about the human aspect to the refugee crisis of 2015.
  • https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015/jun/09/a-migrants-journey-from-syria-to-sweden-interactive
Who are asylum seekers? Are they all refugees? Not really

How is an asylum seeker defined in the EU? Asylum seekers are people who leave their own country for reasons such as persecution or torture on account of their race, religion or nationality. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights obliges the states to protect people in need. It is also an international obligation, first recognised in the 1951 Geneva Convention. What is the process for seeking asylum? There is a uniform EU system of minimal standards ensuring freedom, security and justice. For example, the initial procedure should not exceed six months. Which country has decision-making authority? To avoid sending asylum seekers from country to country, just one Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. The country is designated according to the presence of relatives, the point of entry to the EU, the place an asylum application is first made, or where a visa was granted. Who verifies the asylum seekers' identity? This is the task of national authorities in charge of security and the asylum process, with the support of European agencies where necessary. What are their rights? In Europe, asylum seekers benefit from basic living conditions, such as clothing, housing and food, medical and psychological care, education for children, full respect of fundamental rights. They're obliged to have their fingerprints taken. These are stored on a database called Eurodac. How is the application processed? The key part is a one-to-one interview between the asylum seeker and his or her case manager. The presence of an interpreter and legal assistance can be requested without charge. If the request is rejected, there is the possibility of an appeal. But if the decision is upheld, the applicant may be required to return to their country of origin or transit. If their request is accepted, refugee status is granted. They receive a residence permit and access to the labour market and healthcare services. ( the text coming from the film transcript )

watch the video

What I really liked about the video, is making me aware how important it is to use an appropriate term while describing any newcomer to any country. It is so little, which can make a big difference in building a common platform for all people who will face a new situation, speaking about both the hosts and the guests.

Below another short movie that attracts our attention to some statistics and The Declaration of Human Rights which is so often forgotten when it comes to some conformist decisions

What if that happens to us?

Which specific aspects of this topic do you feel less confident about?

The problem that I face is this uncertainty if I do enough to integrate different cultures in my school. We do not face the situation of having the refugees among us, however we admit students from all over the world to provide them with education, in the majority of cases, temporarily, as their parents are usually contract workers, diplomats or others who just reunite with families. So having over 30 nationalities at school, instead of great mixed family, we have got a lot of "national subgroups" which do not integrate if not at school.

What are your goals for this course?

I expect to find here among all of us and from you some advice on how to make them act together and unite not only when they stand against another newcomer or a refugee-to-come, who evokes fear and rebellion. This is one of few contexts when even different nationalities come together, which is really sad.


1.2 Why do people migrate?

These films below give the exact answers and list the reasons why people decide to migrate.

1.3 Who are newly arrived migrants?

There are as many stories as many there are people who for some reason decided to abandon their birthplace and migrate int the unknown. All of them are touch, interesting, sometimes terrifying, particularly the ones from refugees, no matter what country they are forced to flee. One of them is Chechnya, and mainly women and kids who either escape from their country because of political persecutions of their husbands having been fighting against the regime during Donbas conflict, or the ones trying to say "NO" to the violence and "slavery" they live in under the regime they experience at homes.

They pack and escape under cover of the night and with small kids the travel hundreds kilometres to Poland to seek asylum there. Unfortunately my country is not the best example of respecting human rights of migrants especially the ones who have not been granted the refugee status. So people are trying forty, fifty times to cross the border wasting sometimes all their savings for buying documents, visas and paying for the procedures necessary to be taken in order step onto the Polish territory.

It takes time of spending months at the railway station in conditions easily imaginable as being inappropriate for anybody to live in. Mothers do not work, children do not take any formal education, they lead the life of vegetation waiting for the wonder to happen. to all the world the kids are known under the name "The Brest Train Station Kids" https://www.facebook.com/Dzieci-z-Dworca-Brześć-307063089678726/

In Brest, Belarus Ms. Marina Hulia for more than half a year has been trying to help all those families showing them joy and giving hope. She managed to shake all Poland and apart from sending kids supplies including clothes, cosmetics, stationery, money, blankets, food, some cities organise Days of Joy for these lucky kids who finally after dozens of attempt managed to get the permission to enter Poland.

Our school also invited 30 Chechen families to such Days of Joy. The report you will find under the link below.

OTHER immigrants'stories


1.4 Journeys to Europe

Here Is The Long Route Many Refugees Take To Travel From Syria To Germany.One of the most common routes for those fleeing the war-torn nation involves moving across seven countries by foot, boat, and train.

Below the terrifying story by a little refugee girl about hardships of her life journey to freedom.



Passages is a game simulation and education tool developed by UNCHR to create a better understanding of the problems of refugees.

At our school the students organised the UNHCR game PASSAGES which was supposed to place them int simulation situations of migrants trying to cross the border.

Below please find the simulation which was organised by the American International School Johannesburg as part of the 2016 Classroom Without Walls Service Learning programme.

1.5 Arriving in Europe


I must admit that I am really ashamed of how the problem of refugees from Syria or other war zones is handled in my country. There is only one Found in Poland called ESTERA with Mrs. Miriam Shaded as its president (http://fundacjaestera.pl/en/), which deals with official and legal proces of bringing the Syrians here. The shameful number 158 is the amount of people who were admitted in Poland and within this number there were 12 children. They didn't have to travel in inhuman conditions, cover 2 billion miles and all seemed ok at the very beginning, however the scandals started to affect the good image of the foundation and it has been accused of providing refugees with two little money to survive - e.g. 700 euros per month for a six member famly.

What is more, honesty in classifying Syrians with respect to the principal of equallity has ben questioned by some human rights activists, as it turned out that the Foundation did not accept any Syrians of Muslim religious beackground, justifying this decision by the social fear of islamisation of our country.

The Syrians did not feel well in my country, and out of 158 newcomers only 5 families stayed in here. The rest have continued to Germany.

The situation in Poland is getting worse. On the one hand more and more teachers undertake an effort to open minds, fight down intolerance and xenophobia, organize charities and help in any way, but on the other hand, it is still being criticised by the central government to allow migrants in our country. People get desoriented instead of beng truly informed. In order to stop this ignorance I wrote the MIGRANT Erasmus+ project in which together with 5 other countries we will try to raise the level of knowledge and inflict more tolerance in young people. (https://www.facebook.com/migrantemergency/).

As I said in the previous course, I am a daughter of a Greek refugee fleeing his country in 1949 due to the Civil War in Greece. My dad and now the next and next generations have been building this country and are grateful for all we got giving in return our work, paying taxex and helping. We are not shooting and killing people and we are just like millions living around us. Although it wasn't always easy, we were accepted by the society and live in peace with everybody.

The Syrians and other people especially forced to abandon their homes because of war conflicts should be treated with special care and delicasy.



Slide collage - great webinar .

2.1 General Strategies & Activities

How to get students engaged to make the process of migrant integration easier?
Is every refugee a terrorist? How to deal with this question ?

2.2 Finding External Partners

It is better to use the experience of the others. Find the partner to work together on the migrant problem

2.3 Activities - Countries of Origin & Reasons for Leaving

My idea is to make use of technology and for example prepare the comic book about a chosen migrant story, or even create one on the basis of the previous research study on the Syrian conflict for example.

Look at the comic strip my students prepared in the frame of MIGRANT Erasmus+ project, which in printed version, was then taken to schools in 6 countries and offered as a students' gift to the libraries. At the end you will find suggestions of some activities for different students levels.

2.4 Activities - Experiences of Fleeing

Further ideas of the class activities

2.5 Activities - Arriving in a New Country

What are pillars of identity? How to defeat xenophobia among students?

2.6 The Role of Social Media

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