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Reluctant Immigrants Lesson Plan PDF

Subject: Social Studies ( U.S. History, Civics, World History, Global Connections)

Overview: Sometimes, immigration results from conditions in other countries that could force people to leave, perhaps unwillingly or reluctantly. Political tension, war, and/or mistreatment of certain groups of people are among the circumstances that propel emigration. The refugee, a different type of immigrant, is the end product of this journey.

Standards >
Procedure >
Extensions and Assessment >
Related Resources >

Standards: This lesson addresses the following national content standards established at http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/

Objectives:

Students will:

  • Examine the conditions in Nigeria that have led to forced immigration and large numbers of refugees
  • Define the terms reluctant immigrant and refugee
  • Describe the refugee experience based on an actual story of one Nigerian's exodus from her country
  • Review and assess

Materials Needed

  • Copy of The New Americans (To purchase: Home Vision Entertainment: 888 - 572-8918)
  • VCR and television
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Chalkboard and chalk
  • Print and online materials about Nigeria's political history and its impact on citizens (those who have become refugees)

Procedure:

1. Ask students to complete this sentence: The number of people around the world who are considered refugees is.… Ask students to share their estimates, noting those who are closest to the correct number, which is, according to the United Nations Council on Human Rights, 15 million.

2. Probe student knowledge about refugees, posing the following questions:

  • What is the legal definition of "refugee"?
  • Why do people become refugees?
  • How do refugees gain admission to the United States?

3. Instruct students to research more about refugees using online and print materials. Questions students can consider as they research are:

  • Which countries send the most refugees to the United States?
  • How did the Refugee Act of 1980 change U.S. policies towards refugees and rates of refugee resettlement in the U.S.?
  • What is the difference between refugee resettlement and asylum?
  • Is it difficult for people to obtain refugee status in the U.S.? Explain.

4. Provide background on the political situation in Nigeria to preface The New Americans story on Barine Wiwa-Lawani. Have students view the introduction to her story (and episodes Two and Three) and also the Web site.

5. Ask them to consider the following questions (written on the chalkboard or distributed as a handout) as they watch the episode and/or review the relevant online sections. What was occurring in Nigeria that forced Barine and her family to flee Nigeria? What allowed her to be granted refugee status?

6. If students have computer and Internet access, have them log onto the UNCHR Web site to access statistics about Nigerian refugees in 1998, the year Barine emigrated to the U.S. How many other Nigerian refugees were there that year? (If there is no computer access, provide this information to students in a print format.)

7. Ask students to identify the other types of immigrants coming to the United States (an overview may be found in the left-hand navigation of the INS site. How would a refugee's immigration experience differ from that of these other groups? Would a refugee feel or experience any of the same things? Explain. What kind of special services, if any, should refugees receive when they arrive in the U.S.?

8. Based on what they have learned about Barine and other refugees who come to the Untied States, what conclusions can students draw about refugees in the United States? How different are their lives from those of other immigrants? What policies and laws exist that assist and protect them and/or what barriers make their transition challenging?

7. Ask students to select one of the following activities to do (students can work on different projects), making sure to incorporate their knowledge of refugees.

  • Create a survey which tests public understanding of refugee policies, statistics, etc. in your community.
  • Write your elected representative with proposed changes to the Refugee Act of 1980, if you think changes need to be made.
  • Identify a group in your community that aids refugees, and volunteer.
  • Create a handbook about refugee resettlement; translate this into another language and post it online.

Assessment

Students may be assessed on the quality of their writing, their synthesis of information from various sources, and their contributions to class discussion.  

Extensions

Students can:

  • Select and compare and contrast stories, poems, and/or memoirs written by refugees to the U.S.
  • Compare United States policies about refugee resettlement to the policies of another industrialized country. How do they differ? How are they similar?

Related Resources

Meet the New Americans: The Ogoni Story >

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services: Refugees >

United Nations Council on Human Rights >

Amnesty International >

To Be a Teen Refugee >

Refugee Crisis in Central Nigeria >

Up to 50,000 displaced in Nigeria >

Thousands Flee Nigeria Clashes >

Fact and Stats about Nigeria >

Nigeria: Chronology Of The Struggle For Stability And Democracy >

Correlation to National Standards
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)

History

  • Understands political conditions in Africa after World War II (e.g., the moral, social, political, and economic implications of apartheid; the diverse leadership and governing styles of African regimes through the second half of the 20th century)
  • Understands reasons for the shift in government in Africa and how Africans responded (e.g., reasons for the replacement of parliamentary-style governments with military regimes and one-party states in much of Africa, how Africans survived and resisted apartheid)
  • Understands how recent immigration and migration patterns impacted social and political issues (e.g., major issues that affect immigrants and resulting conflicts; changes in the size and composition of the traditional American family; demographic and residential mobility since 1970)
  • Understands major contemporary social issues and the groups involved (e.g., continuing debates over multiculturalism, bilingual education)

Civics

  • Understands the role of the United States in establishing and maintaining principal international organizations (e.g., UN, UNICEF, GATT, NATO, OAS, World Bank, International Monetary Fund)
  • Understands the current role of the United States in peacemaking and peacekeeping
  • Understands the influence of American constitutional values and principles on American foreign policy (e.g., a commitment to the self-determination of nations), and understands the tensions that might arise among American values, principles, and interests as the nation deals with the practical requirements of international politics (e.g., a commitment to human rights and the requirements of national security)
  • Understands historical and contemporary responses of the American government to demographic and environmental changes that affect the United States
  • Understands the effects that significant American political developments have on other nations (e.g., immigration policies; opposition to communism; promotion of human rights; foreign trade; economic, military, and humanitarian aid)
  • Understands the importance to individuals and to society of personal rights such as freedom of thought and conscience, privacy and personal autonomy, and the right to due process of law and equal protection of the law

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