CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: A Refugee Journal

History, Social Studies, English Language Arts
1 to 2 lessons
To examine the challenges and changes faced by refugees immigrating to a new country
Students will write a journal entry in role as a refugee from Vietnam.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Have a class discussion about how humans react to change. Encourage students to consider how they felt about changes in their lives and what caused the change. Record their responses as a class web.

Outline the Opportunity

Divide the class into four groups. Assign each group two of the following clips in the topic  Boat People: A Refugee Crisis on the CBC Digital Archives website: Why they fled: The fall of Saigon; Re-education camps...or death camps?; Pirates and sinking ships: One refugee's story; Refuge for the unwanted; The one-man board of immigration; Sponsoring refugees: Canadians reach out; Welcome to Canada; ...But some say 'Go home.'; 'They take the jobs Canadians don't want...'; Adjusting to Canada: From ABCs to -40 degrees.  As they view, students will list the issues (for example, language barrier, financial issues, ill health, victimization) faced by the refugees, and describe the responses of the people profiled in their clips.

Have each group share its notes with the class. Then ask each student to write several journal entries, in role as a refugee, describing his or her experience.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students read their journal entries aloud to the class. As a group, discuss the range of difficult experiences encountered by the refugees. Ask students what they consider to be the most difficult challenge and why.


Students can dramatize one of the audio or video clips to further depict the struggle of the refugees.

Related Content

1986: Sri Lankan migrants rescued off Newfoun...

Fishing boats come to the aid of more than 150 people adrift in two crowded lifeboats in the A...

Their Christian Duty: Canadian Missionaries A...

The risks are great, but so are the rewards. For over 100 years Canadian Christians have been ...

A Passion for Paddling: Canoeing in Canada

The need to navigate the waters prompted native North Americans to invent the canoe. Hundreds ...

1968: Sammy Davis Jr. talks to draft dodgers ...

During the Vietnam War, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. speaks to U.S. draft dodgers about their e...

Seeking Sanctuary: Draft Dodgers

No one expected the Vietnam War to play out as it did. With thousands of young men fighting to...

Draft Dodgers: 'Statute of Limitations'

Controversy erupts in Nelson, B.C., over a proposed draft dodger statute.