With candidates like Marine Le Pen and policies like Brexit cropping up internationally, and much national focus on immigration and border control, immigration and the human rights issues that surround it are topical and relevant issues for all groups of students. I’m a big proponent of using my platform as a teacher to promote social awareness (regardless of personal opinion), and English/Language arts is particularly well suited to helping students build this kind of empathy. Reading, absorbing, and analyzing literature is as close as one can get to living through the experiences of the author and the situations they are writing about.
One particularly excellent text about immigration, that I hope to teach in my classroom wherever I land, is a wordless graphic novel called The Arrival, by Australian artist Shaun Tan. Despite being wordless, it manages to convey incredibly sophisticated themes that are politically neutral, since the story is visual fantasy and is not set in any particularly identifiable time or place. Because of its neutrality, it allows readers to connect with the characters without necessarily conveying blame, or causing the reader to become defensive. Students experience along with the characters the displacement and loss of leaving a homeland, the adaptation to new customs and places, and eventual reunion with family. It’s fabulous.
An excellent tech tool to go along with this text is the Metrocosm World Immigration Map. In much the same way that The Arrival removes the otherness of immigration through the sympathetic characters, this tech tool normalizes immigration by showing that people are coming and going from nearly every country, and that immigration is a global process rather than an isolated perceived annoyance.
Featured Image: Graphic Novel illustration by Laurence Hyde retrieved from Flickr