I am teaching a wonderful unit on multiculturalism, refugees, migrations and asylum seekers. Here in Australia, this is a relevant and current issue and there is a lot to discover and explore. What has made the teaching so much richer than I anticipated is the fact that, across the two class groups, I have seven students who have intimate experiences with migration. Several are refugees and a couple have parents who migrated here.
I invited each student to share about their family’s experiences and I could not have planned the results if I had provided them with a script. Completely unprompted, the students spoke about war and displacement, about waiting in a refugee camp for years, about abuse and poor education and family tensions, and about the release and relief that came with resettlement.
For a significant time, the rest of the class sat spellbound as their peers spoke.
There has been a lot said and written about the self-centeredness of adolescence and their inability to engage with non-bells-and-whistles didactic presentations.
I can assure you that engagement can happen in all sorts of ways. The key is the passion of the presenter, especially when it is an adolescent’s peer.
And none of this would have happened without the fact that I am blessed with the richness of a multicultural class.