World Refugee Day is celebrated on June 20th. This year’s theme is “Together we heal, learn and, shine.” It was first celebrated in 2001 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and brings attention to the ongoing plight of refugees and what can be done to help them. Also known as National Refugee Day and International Refugee Day, this observance is an excellent chance to raise awareness in our own classes.
Teaching about World Refugee Day should begin with some general background information about refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offers some general information and there are a variety of lessons about refugees available from TED-Ed and Human Rights Educators USA. Information about understanding the global refugee crisis is a great place to start. Lessons are available for specific student groups like English Language Learners and middle schoolers. You can create your own lessons using a variety of different media—data, music, photography, video, books, articles, current events, virtual field trips, comics, and timelines. Personal stories are a great way for students to connect with the stories of refugees. Another way for students to make connections is the variety of interactives available about experiences like emigrating to Europe, life in a refugee camp, and seeking asylum in the United States. Once you’ve established a foundation, take advantage of the large variety of lessons and activities based upon World Refugee Day. The Guardian offers specific information on teaching about World Refugee Week. There are also multiple lessons and activities for kids available on some sites, as well as singular lessons and activities available for all age groups solely about World Refugee Day.
As always, TeachersFirst offers a variety of resources to get you started, like our Reading Trek and corresponding teacher guide about Refugee by Alan Gratz, digital resources, and blog posts. Teaching around World Refugee Day can be an engaging and enlightening experience for your classroom!