Humans of Syria

We have just started our Middle East unit. Last year we discussed ISIS a bit, but we ran out of time before we could really focus on the refugee issue. Unfortunately, the crisis is only getting worse, so no matter what cost in time, we will examine it this year. Although this lesson focuses on the Syrian refugees, it is important to remember that there are significant numbers of displaced peoples from other countries as part of the overall “EU refugee crisis”.


Warm Up:

Zaartari refugee camp in Jordan

Population: 80,000




How big is the problem?

This map shows how large Europe’s refugee crisis really is – check out this interactive map on the origin and destinations of refugees moving into Europe compiled from three years of UN data.

 What is the difference between a migrant and a refugee?



Student Reflection:

1. What are three adjectives you could use to describe the scope of the refugee crisis?

2. How has the refugee crisis changed over time? In 2015, which countries have the highest number of refugees leaving? Why do you think that might be true? Which countries are the most popular destinations for refugees?

3. What are some challenges that refugees face?

4. According to the U.N., what is the difference between and refugee and a migrant? Why does it matter?


Who are the Syrian refugees?

In particular, I think is important that my students see the human face of the crisis, and hear the stories of civilians who trying to escape from the violence, chaos and extremism that is consuming so much of Syria.

Fortunately the excellent Humans of New York blog is currently doing a terrific series on that very topic. Here are some of the Syrian families that have been cleared for resettlement in the United States.







For the rest of the stories, please check out @humansofny


Student Reflection:

1. Are there any trends or similarities between these stories?

2. What was the most surprising, interesting or powerful thing you read?



1.  Please share stories and resources!

2. Are you planning on teaching about the refugee crisis in your class? What lessons or activities are you using?