Daily Video

October 13, 2021

Daily News Lesson: How this young Afghan refugee uses poetry to ’empty’ her pain and feel hope


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video produced by Student Reporting Labs and answer the discussion questions. Some students may find it easier to read along with the transcript or turn on closed captions/CC.

Summary: October 11 is the International Day of the Girl. The NewsHour heard from one girl, a young Afghan poet, who left her country a few years ago with her family for security reasons. Aryan Ashory now lives in a refugee settlement in Germany, and shared her thoughts and writing with the NewsHour’s Student Reporting Lab as part of our arts and culture series, CANVAS.

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is this piece about and what is her background?
  • What are some ways art helps “empty” the trauma of being a refugee, according to Ashory?
  • When did Ashory leave Afghanistan, and Where did she go?
  • How does Ashory try to help her readers or audience understand the experience of Afghan refugees?

Focus questions:

  1. What difficulties is Ashory suggesting when she says she hopes to no longer have to “carry our life in our backpack”? What did her poem help you understand about the difficulties of not having a secure place to live?
  2. Do you have a creative outlet to help process difficult feelings in your life? If so, what is it? If not, what could it be?

Media literacy: What aspect of the refugee experience do you think Ashory’s poetry conveys that a news report might not?

Additional resources:

  • For more on the end of the Afghan War and Afghan refugee’s difficulty coming to the United States, see this lesson.
  • How have artists in the U.S. tried to address national traumas, including mourning COVID victims? Check out this lesson on Amanda Gorman, her inaugural poem and her poetry mourning COVID loss.
  • You might also want to check out this short lesson on poet Billy Collins’ and students’ poetry in response to the events of 9/11.

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