Getting students to understand the real-life experiences of refugees and asylum seekers can develop their critical thinking and open-mindedness.
This project takes the form of workshops that were delivered by Red Cross volunteers within secondary schools in Glasgow. These workshops endeavour firstly to encourage pupils to become aware of the realities and truths behind the reason that people seek refuge, and secondly to encourage pupils to think for themselves and refrain from stereotyping and narrow-mindedness.
The workshops don’t take the structure of a normal taught class; instead they are delivered using a variety of games, videos, and quizzes. In simple terms, these are ‘fun activities’ and not lectures.
The aim is for these activities to persuade pupils to think for themselves regarding the issues of asylum, asylum seekers and refugees. Moreover, it provides the class with the opportunity of tackling and questioning any prejudices that they may have as a direct consequence of lack of knowledge.
“In part of the classroom session we use the surprise factor,” explains Tanya Gedik, the co-ordinator of the project, “and it’s remarkably effective. We show them how the percentage of asylum seekers in Britain compared to those in developing countries is the exact opposite to what they think. We also discuss a newspaper article that slanders the local immigrant population and then explain it was written in a country where the British are those immigrants. We want the pupils to think in a different way and challenge their opinions.”
In the two years that the project has been running, the response from the pupils has been fantastic to say the least. There can be no doubt that those who have taken part in the sessions have taken away a more positive and more informed view of this important issue.
Here are some comments from the pupils involved:
“The project made me think about the real situations that people face when seeking asylum, to be honest I didn’t even know actual number of refugees in Scotland was so low.”
“It made think about how wrongly people view refugees and asylum seekers and that definitely not everything you read is true.”
“I didn’t know there was so few refugees coming to Britain. It made you look at it in a different light.”
“The session made me think about how life would be if I had to leave home and made me think about what that type of life would be like.”
“It made me think about how refugees are treated.”
“It made me think how hard it must be for some people. I never knew how horrible it could be in some countries until after I had watched the video.”
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