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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Leaving Vietnam

Type: Introductory
Subjects: History, Social Studies, Geography, Business Studies
Duration: 1 lesson
Purpose: To identify the causes and events leading to Vietnamese refugees fleeing their home country
Summary: In this introductory activity, students explore the topic to learn more about the boat people and why they fled from their homeland.

Before Exploring

Have students work in groups of three to brainstorm and record what they already know about the Boat People, Vietnamese refugees who left Vietnam in small boats to find a new life in countries around the world. Each group should post its ideas and share them with the class.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students watch and listen to the clip 'Why they fled: The fall of Saigon,' including the "Did You Know?" section, on the topic Boat People: A Refugee Crisis on the CBC Digital Archives website. In their original groups of three, students will outline the reasons and events that led to the Vietnamese leaving their country. Students can also browse the topic for about 20 minutes to find other information about why the refugees fled.

Revisit and Reflect

Gather as a class and create a class list of all the details students found.

Invite students to discuss their opinions about the Vietnam War. Have them reflect on what happened to refugees in Vietnam and compare the situation to that of refugees in other conflicts such as Desert Storm, the 2003 war in Iraq, or the War on Terrorism. Encourage students to think critically about what factors led to the similarities and differences in refugee experiences.


Have students listen to Human Rights Committee President Joan Baez in the clip 'Re-education camps...or death camps?' on the topic "Boat People: A Refugee Crisis" on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students can discuss with a partner, or reflect in their journal, the role of leaders in bringing world attention to the plight of those left in Vietnam. Students should further discuss whether other countries should have become involved in the internal politics of Vietnam.