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A model for exchanging thoughts between asylum seekers and students


Marker Helsinki, Finland
During Encounters students will get to know the stories of asylum seekers as told by the asylum seekers themselves. The goal is to increase dialogue in society. The lesson also teaches students the importance and value of volunteering to help the refugee situation.

What is it all about?

“The best way to remove fear and prejudice is for people from different backgrounds to meet each other face to face.”

A teacher who tried out the innovation

There are more refugees around the world than ever before, which has caused the numbers of asylum seekers around the world to grow. This understandably raises questions and suspicion, which schools need to be able to address in a way that promotes dialogue. Encounters is a method that has proven effective.

Encounters is a three lesson unit designed for secondary schools. Its long-term goal is to promote dialogue in society by introducing young people to the stories of refugees.

The students get to know the story of an asylum seeker as told by the asylum seeker themselves, learn about the value of volunteer work, and the ways one person can make a difference. Additionally, the encounters between youth and asylum seekers create discussion about attitudes in society and how everyone can affect them with their own actions.

Encounters helps both students and teachers see human life from a new perspective. Surveys of participants reveal that Encounters has changed student perceptions about asylum seekers and motivates students to find a way they can volunteer to help.

Encounters was created by the Refuhome organisation, which was founded in September 2015 when the parish of Lauttasaari gave emergency accommodation to 120 asylum seekers. The first Encounter was held in Spring 2016, when a teacher felt that racist ideas were gaining a foothold at their school. The teacher asked a volunteer and an asylum seeker to visit the school to talk about their experiences. The word about the impact of the event spread to other schools and they tried it out as well.

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Intended Outcomes
13 - 18
Age Group
Resources Needed
Time for preparation.
HundrED Criteria
Students get to know a difficult topic in a safe environment, that is relevant to today’s world.
Understanding refugees and the causes and people behind the phenomenon.
The current refugee situation affects several countries and is a recurring issue throughout history, so will affect all nations at different points. Hearing the stories of asylum seekers is eye-opening for many students.

See this innovation in action.


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Discussing the refugee phenomenon beforehand
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Inviting an asylum seeker and a volunteer
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Collecting questions from the class
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Setting the date and time for the Encounter
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Student exercise
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