Thinking about how to discuss Syria with your students? Here are 4 key ideas that can help kids go beyond the latest headlines:
1. Syria’s cultural significance. For thousands of years, Syria has been a place where human beings lived, loved — and created art. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, located between Lebanon and Turkey, and a bit bigger than the American state of Pennsylvania, the independent country of Syria was established in late 1945 (after a few decades of French rule, which ended 400 years of Ottoman rule). Syria contains ancient artifacts of global significance, including 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that used to attract tourists from all over the world. In 2011, a series of factors ignited a sprawling civil war in Syria. Watch this video to find out more about Syria and how the war began:
2. What is a refugee? About 60 million people around the globe have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in other countries to escape war, violence, and persecution. Here’s what it means to be a refugee. In the past 6 years, almost 500,000 Syrians have died — and millions more men, women, and children have fled into the unknown because of the ongoing conflict in Syria. In this short film, a young Syrian named Mohammed Alsaleh describes what happened after he fled violence and imprisonment by the Assad regime. Mohammed now lives in Canada, where he counsels newly arrived refugee families. Watch this video to hear his story:
3. How leaders are responding. Countries respond to international crises in different ways, and future history books will record how world leaders responded to this ongoing crisis and other matters of global significance in 2017. Watch this video to see how countries are responding to Syria now:
4. What do you think? As a student, do you feel moved to take action about the news regarding Syria and the global refugee crisis? Why or why not? Here’s one way that an individual responded. As a young leader, do you agree with how your country has responded to the conflict in Syria, and to the needs of refugees? Why or why not? What would you do if you were in charge of your country’s response?