The recent call for hunkering down, closing borders, keeping out the other is contrary to the global citizen’s position on collaboration, understanding the other and how to disagree with another person’s view. In a world of over 7 billion people the requirement to establish a harmonious and workable relationship with the other at a time of extreme stress on world resources is paramount to well being, productivity, and even survival. From a global perspective this is about interconnection, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, empathy, the value of diversity and peaceful outcomes to conflicting ideas.
World Refugee week takes place from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June. Many students and teachers find the terms ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ confusing. I encourage schools to acknowledge the week and teach their students at least these definitions:
Who is a refugee? Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.
Who is an asylum seeker? A person who has applied for protection as a refugee, but whose claims have not yet been recognised by a government. However, since recognition by a government is not required to meet the definition of a refugee, an asylum seeker may also be at the same time a refugee.
Who is a migrant? A migrant is a person who makes a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere. Before they decided to leave their country, migrants can seek information about their new home, study the language and explore employment opportunities. They can plan their travel, take their belongings with them and say goodbye to the important people in their lives. They are free to return home at any time if things don’t work out as they had hoped, if they get homesick or if they wish to visit family members and friends left behind.
You can also find definitions of who is ‘climate refugee‘ and who is an internally displaced person?
If you are interested in participating in a collaborative global project researching the topic of refugees, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org