Unit plan for ages 15-18 in Language & Literature: The Depiction of Refugee Experience in Literature

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Soviet military retaliation against the uprising in Hungary in 1956 caused 180,000 Hungarians, including this young couple to seek safety in Austria.   © UNHCR/Szabo

UNIT OBJECTIVES

Knowledge

  • To understand refugees' sense of alienation
  • To be briefly informed about refugee situations around the world, with particular reference to Ethiopia
  • To understand the living conditions of African refugees

Skills

Early refugees: Some of the first people helped by UNHCR being processed by Germany in 1953 for resettlement in other countries.  © UNHCR/IRO

  • To practise reading and interpreting a poem
  • To practise sharing one's thoughts and feelings with the class
  • To practise analysing the ways in which a writer conveys strong feelings in prose
  • To analyse:
    a) emotional response
    b) fluency of expression
    c) evocative use of language

To practise effective prose writing

Values

  • To encourage the students to enter into the feelings of exile and alienation which refugees experience
  • To encourage the students to relate to the poet's experience to their own, or to that of someone they know
  • To empathise with refugees' sense of alienation
  • To reflect upon the response of a host community to refugees, particularly their own community response
  • To provide a personal response to literary works on refugee themes

LESSON 1: "Concerning the Label Emigrant" by Bertolt Brecht

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

The Depiction of Refugee Experience in Poetry: Bertolt Brecht, Concerning the Label Emigrant

Preparation

The day before the lesson, ask the students to read about Bertolt Brecht's life and work in an encyclopaedia.

Reading

Seat students in a large circle, if possible. The teacher, or a talented reader among the students, should read aloud the poem.

Comprehension questions

Can be answered verbally or in writing.

Discussion questions

Bring out the poet's sense of alienation. Encourage the students to relate that feeling to their own experience, or to that of someone known to them.

RESOURCES

Kakuma refugee camp.  © UNHCR/A.Webster

BRECHT, Bertolt, "Concerning the Label Emigrant" in Refugees: An Anthology of Poems and Songs. Edited by Brian Coleman. Ottawa, 1988, p. 21. Distributed by the Editor, 44 Caroline Avenue, Ottawa, K1Y OS7, Canada.

LESSON 2: "All tomorrows are the same" by Misganaw Worknehe

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES
The Depiction of Refugee Experience in Prose: Misganaw Worknehe, All tomorrows are the same.

Preparation

  • Library research questions for homework: Give some examples of host countries who have opened their doors to refugees. Where did the refugees come from, and when did this happen?

Follow up of library research

Teacher builds up blackboard summary, with discussion under these headings:

  • HOST COUNTRY
  • REFUGEES' COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
  • DATE OR PERIOD
RESOURCES

WORKNEHE, Misganaw, "All tomorrows are the same" in Tilting Cages: An Anthology of Refugee Writings. Edited by Naomi Flutter and Carl Solomon. Sydney, 1995, pp. 77-81. Distributed by the Editors, PO Box 223, Pyrmont, NSW, 2009, Australia. Also available from Public Information Section, UNHCR, Geneva.

LESSON 3: Critical analysis

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES
Critical analysis of Brecht's poem and Worknehe's short story.

Writing task

Questions requiring the students to analyse the literary qualities of the two works.

RESOURCES

Further readings for the teacher

John Simpson, ed. The Oxford Book of Exile (Oxford, OUP, 1995)