If you were to put the word “migrant” on the board, what kind of reaction would students have? What would they think about?
Migrant farm workers?
Migrants making their way towards Europe?
Typically people associate the word migrant with hardship and tragedy. Students tend to categorize migrants into a monolithic group with a single story, forgetting that each migrant story is unique and many include triumph over tragedy.
The website from the UN Migration Agency called i am a migrant seeks to start a conversation about what it means to be a migrant by letting migrants share their own stories. As it states on the website, they “seek to combat xenophobia and discrimination at a time when so many are exposed to negative stories about migration…”
Each story of migration includes pictures, the distance traveled from home, and a poster. To add a cherry on top, each story also includes sustainable development goals that relate to the story of the migrant such as #10 Reduced Inequalities.
For me the most eye opening part of the website is that so many of the stories defy stereotypes about migration. Migration is truly a global topic not limited to certain areas of the world. For example, Kevin migrated to Cambodia from the United States to work as a psychologist and a priest.
Alejandro moved from Mexico to Costa Rica as a child when his father had a better job opportunity. He eventually created a YouTube channel to show others the importance of welcoming people all over the world.
For some, migration is not permanent like for Rene who returned to Rwanda after being adopted by Belgians.
These are not the migrant stories we see on the news. They are varied and unique in their own way. You can easily get lost on i am a migrant with the variety of stories from people around the world. Instead of treating migration as a topic, focus on migrants as individuals.
*Do you have students who are migrants? Encourage them to write their own stories and submit them to the website.
- Have students create a migration map with the story of their own family’s migration. Even if students do not think migration relates to them, they may discover that the movement of people around the world including in their own family is not new.
- Students can answer the questions under “How to Participate” as if they are a migrant to understand how a migrant might feel. Some of the questions include:
What was your first impression?
What do you miss from your country?
What do you think you bring to the country you’re living in?
- Ask students to find three stories that were surprising or unexpected.