We Were Strangers Too: Learning about Refugees through Art

Social Justice
We Were Strangers Too by Karl Tani

Artist: Karl Tani

Grade Level:
Middle School,
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language
Social Justice

In what has been named the largest refugee crisis since World War II, more than 65 million people have been forced from their homes. Around the world, one in every 122 people is currently a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.

Roughly 11 million people from Syria have left their homes in search of safety and assistance since the country’s civil war began in 2011. The refugees have been fleeing civil war, persecution and terror—traveling at great lengths and great risk to survive. Instead of being met with compassion and open arms, many of today’s refugees have encountered closed doors and hateful rhetoric.

Understanding the important role of imagery in influencing hearts and minds, ADL has partnered with the Creative Action Network, a network of over 10,000 artists worldwide, to launch a new campaign called We Were Strangers Too. Artists are using their talents to tell stories of refugees from around the world and across time by submitting artwork to this project.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the current refugee crisis, view and analyze related artwork produced by artists all over the world, and reflect on the refugee crisis through reading, writing, art, social media and other activities to deepen their understanding of the refugee crisis and promote empathy for what it means to be a “stranger.”

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