The 13th Young Human Rights Activist Workshop Review
I’ve got the information about the Human Asia Young Human Rights Activists Workshop when I thought that I want to understand refugee rights in a more comprehensive, profound manner. I decided to apply when I heard that I can learn the topic based on perspectives of refugee rights activists on the field, also I can get a chance of practice teaching for teenagers. I studied and discussed with many people who united for the interest of refugee rights for 4 weeks. After that, we made the class proposal based on education from last 4 weeks.
We named our team ‘Learning Together(같이배우조)’. We just started to learn about refugee rights, so we wanted to reflect in our name that our position is not to teach students but to learn together with them. We thought the participation of students is very important thus we constructed the class in which everyone participates, for the change. We didn’t want to just give a lecture, so we planned to make an imaginary character for the students to follow the path of character’s walks, so that students can learn about the typical experience that refugees go through. Hearing that the students are also in a human rights club, I thought it would be fun to provide a chance to talk about refugee rights through a role-play of refugees, pro-refugees and anti-refugees. In short, the goal of my team was to provide students with the time to think about the issue of refugee policies and public opinions, as well as to adjust their perspectives on refugees from someone who should be looked after to the same people just like us.
On June 6th, we gathered together to prepare the class even though it was a holiday. In order to create a story of an imaginary person, we researched existing cases of refugees and discussed which disparities of refugee policies we want to focus on. We made our main character, a teenager so that students can relate more, and the story of “Tatiana & Mashar” was made. After such a long discussion on things like how to run the role play, which roles will be needed, and how to explain the roles to the students, we set the title “The first civil meeting regarding the establishment of general refugee center” and created refugees and civilians to look into this issue with their perspectives. Lastly, we decided to end the day with students sharing their impressions and the changes in their perception regarding refugees. We also planned to introduce ways that students and civilians can contribute to supporting refugees.
After the last reexaminations, including Yesol Lee making a presentation, the day of the class has arrived. The class was held in the Human Asia office on June 9th. Sehwa high school human rights club students visited. We were expecting 10, but we were baffled to see that only 3 had shown up. However, it only created a more intimate atmosphere for us to share our lecture. First Jung sik Choi made it fun and comfortable for the students. After the introductions of the teachers, we talked about how the students think about the refugees. The first words that popped into their heads when they heard the term ‘refugees’ were ‘starvation, disorder, poverty, illegal immigrant, homeless’, and etc. After we briefly explained the condition of refugees in Korea, we moved onto the story of our imaginary character, “The life of Tatiana and Mashar”. Suhyun Lee, a child rights activist, read the story to the students as if she’s reading a fairy tale book. Through the story of ‘Tatiana’ and ‘Mashar’, as a group we thought about many difficulties refugees face through the refugee determination process after they arrive at Korea.
After the short break following the imaginary refugee story, we moved on to the role play. Under the smooth leading of Seung ho Choi, everyone got into their characters and shared their opinions about the ‘Establishment of the first general refugee center’. Despite the lack of information on the role setting we provided, students were very serious about it so that we had a meaningful time. When the role play was over, students shared that they learned grounds of opinions, which the people representing each role made. We worked hard in hopes to let the students in human rights club understand how to communicate with people who have opposite point of views while advocating human rights.
Lastly, we explained the current situation of refugees and what we can do for refugees, also asked students whether perceptions of refugees have been changed after the class. Some aspects were not changed but I could see students’ consciousness had been changed from thinking refugees as someone who are ‘poor and pitiful’ to someone who were persecuted for some reasons and left their lives for survival. One student responded on the survey that ‘It will be a great experience to meet refugees for real.’. Although the time was not that sufficient, it was worthwhile to deliver the story of refugees and to see the positive changing of students’ opinion toward refugees and also we could learn many things from this workshop.