By Carolina Drake, Truthout
July 28, 2016
On the last day before spring break at Manhattan Country School, a progressive school in New York City, the 7th and 8th graders were busy at work with their activism campaign, "Build Bridges, Not Borders." In one classroom, a group of students gathered near the phone, waiting for their turn to call Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to encourage the resettlement of Syrian refugees in New York. In another room, students practiced their talking points and arguments in anticipation of their lobbying trip to Washington, DC, where they would ask congressional representatives to oppose bills that would block the refugee resettlement process and sign a resolution that would condemn hateful rhetoric against Muslims in the United States.
Groups of students rotated through the various classrooms until they arrived at a mock refugee screening process. Here, teachers pretended to be interrogators and security agents as they took the students through the nine steps asylum seekers have to go through before they even enter the United States, and explaining that there are more steps after that and that it takes an average of 18-24 months to complete the process. The idea was to refute the common argument that a "terrorist" or ISIS member may come into the country disguised as a Syrian refugee, and to help the students understand what refugees who are escaping war and violence have to go through as they attempt to resettle.
This is not a standard curriculum course, but it is part of what 7th and 8th graders learn in a school committed to activism and social justice.[...]
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