Iranian teachers, Sahand and Leila, are university educated and economically secure. They speak English – not well, but enough to get by. Theirs is not the stereotypical refugee story. Nevertheless, they have been refugees since 2012.
When Mani was born, his parents were both legally married to other people. Mani is evidence of their adultery, a sin which is also a capital crime in Iran. Afraid for their lives, they flee to seek asylum in Turkey, and a more permanent home someplace in the West, beyond the reach of Iranian intelligence.
Because Danish filmmaker, Eva Mulvad, documented their complicated and frustrating journey for six years, Love Child provides a case study that students can examine. In this lesson, students will consider American immigration practices and policies and take on the role of the immigration judge, studying relevant ethics and laws, and then providing a written “verdict” on whether Leila, Sahand, and Mani should be permitted to resettle in the U.S.
A Note from Curriculum Creator, Dr. Faith Rogow
Adolescents commonly experience feelings conjured by stories and these feelings can be difficult to understand; for some, that can lead to feelings of disconnection, isolation, and even alienation. Finding the universal themes in their own life stories can help them understand that they are, indeed, unique, but also connected. At a time when many people are pulling away from those who are different (racially, religiously, ethnically), finding the themes that are common to humanity can provide common ground, helping people better understand those they define as “other.” As an added benefit, recognizing the universal themes in their own stories can help students identify (and perhaps even connect with) themes in the literature they are assigned to read. Pay close attention to the learners in your care as you engage in this lesson – check-in with them, create community rules to ensure that no harm is fostered in your classroom.
- Global Studies
- Research Skills
Grade Levels: [9-10]
In this lesson, students will:
- Learn the definitions of: refugee, asylum, statelessness, well-founded fear
- Use research skills to find current U.S. policy on granting asylum
- Hear and read “testimony” from a family applying for asylum
- Apply what they learn about U.S. policy to the situation of the family in Love Child, taking into account ethical responsibilities, as well as the law
- Issue a written “verdict” based
- Film Clips from Love Child and a way to screen them; also ongoing access to the clips for students to review as needed
- “Testimony” Handout – This is a document compiled from scenes in Love Child that cannot be screened as part of this lesson. It fills in important parts of the story. If you are in a position to screen the entire film with students, you do not need this handout.
- Internet access for research purposes
One 45-minute class period, preceded and followed by homework. Optional follow-up class for students to share and discuss their verdicts.