Ellis Island. Immigration. What’s a refugee? (2º Bach)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 14)
“Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”

After reading about New York and Ellis Island, students from 2º Bachillerato were asked to reflect on how people might feel when they have to leave their countries, families and friends behind in search of a better future. First, they were asked to discuss the following questions in pairs:

  • What is a refugee?
  • What reasons might people have to become refugees?
  • What is the right to asylum?
  • What difficulties might refugees encounter? Think about children, women and old people.
  • How would you feel if you were forced to abandon your country?
  • How do you think stereotypes and prejudices can have a negative effect on refugees?

We talked about Syria, a nation devastated by war where more than half of the country’s population has been forced to leave their homes since the conflict began. After that, we concentrated on immigration in the USA in the 19th and 20th centuries. They learnt about Ellis Island and how New York became the gateway to a new life, although this wasn’t always an easy decision to make.

Students were asked to put themselves in the shoes of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island and to write a comment with their first impressions on arriving in New York in a collaborative virtual wall. Click on the photo to see the result:

First impressions on arriving at Ellis Island



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