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Source Reviewed:

www.respectrefugees.org

Audience:

ESL/ELD teachers

Topic:

Diversity Issues

Description:

Respect International
www.respectrefugees.org

I came across an interesting website, Respect International, dealing with refugees that I thought would help to discern the issues affecting refugees verses those that affect immigrants who are newcomers within our schools. While refugees share many of same needs as immigrants who join the school system within Canada, they also often have a different set of needs based on their unique set of circumstances surrounding their flight from their country of origin.

Respect International is a Canadian organization that is committed to raising awareness among youth around the world about refugees and refugee issues, encouraging activism among youth and further empowering refugee children and communities through letter writing and cultural exchange, and fundraising for education-related material aid.

While this resource does not directly deal with ESL education, I thought to include a review of this website because I feel that Respect International’s programs have interesting possibilities in creating a positive, respectful, and inclusive classroom. The sponsorship program is particularly interesting in that it connects students in Canada with students from other countries, and promotes intercultural exchange, and develops awareness and acceptance for those who are different from ourselves. As a future teacher, I hope to not only support my ESL students by addressing their language and broader academic issues, but I wish to foster a culture in the classroom where students whole heartedly accept one another, and work together to achieve their social and academic goals.

The sponsorship program is one where students in Canada are introduced to a class of refugee students of similar age and academic level through on-going pen pal letter exchange. The program involves introducing the students in Canada to refugee issues so that they have an understanding of what it means to be a refugee and some knowledge of the social, political, and economic issues that give rise to social and physical displacement. The other component to this program is fundraising for the refugee schools abroad, whereby students in Canada plan and implement fundraising activities to help purchase and deliver educational materials for the beneficiarcies.



Strengths:

I think activities such as the kind organized by Respect International, help to raise awareness among your students and it is this awareness and understanding that becomes internalized and propagated in your own classroom to help all students from all walks of life feel welcome and appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the classroom.

Respect International is also useful for teachers who are seeking resources on refugees and refugee issues. There are many interesting resources available on-line, and teachers can learn about presentations and workshops available to schools for both students and teachers. Unfortunately, the presentations and workshops may only be available in Manitoba where Respect International is based, however, they may have liasons in other parts of Canada.


Weaknesses:

The website is not as well organized as I think it could be, however, the content is what really matters and I think Respect International has done a very good job at presenting really useful information.

Comments:

Check it out!

Your Recommendations:

None

Submitted by: Erika Carlson

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