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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: A Refugee Journal

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Social Studies, English Language Arts
Grades: Grades 9-10
Duration: 1 to 2 lessons
Purpose: To examine the challenges and changes faced by refugees immigrating to a new country
Summary: Students will write a journal entry in role as a refugee from Vietnam.

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.