Implementation of ‘Writing home: coping with migration’ (SOI-GR-227)

Young Europeans are familiar with migration and immigrants- but let’ s try to walk in their shoes for a while.

When and Where

The LS “Writing home: coping with migration” was implemented in a Literature Course with 14 yo students. Three sessions, each lasting 80 min, were held online (due to covid-related lockdown) during February 2020. Students did their tasks from home, alone or working in groups, using their own devices. This implementation was the last part of a wider project dealing with literary representations of migration and immigrants. Therefore, issues such as the presence of Greeks in other countries and the reasons that led them to expatriate had already been answered. Thus, the first part of the project, researching the terms of immigration and Greek diaspora, was omitted.

Session #1: Emotions, difficulties and letters in the life of immigrants

We read the literary text by Valtinos and discussed the heroes’ emotions and difficulties. Students created wordclouds on Mentimeter answering the questions: ‘What are the heroes’ emotions?” and “What difficulties do they face?”.

Cultural alienation and disruption of their daily life were the main difficulties Hara and her family faced.
Loneliness and longing for home came out as the chief emotions of Hara, Valtinos’ heroine.

We then discussed the importance letters had in the life of immigrants in the past and tried to empathize with Hara and her loved ones answering on the Webex e-board the question “How would you feel if you could not communicate with family and friends?”

 “…I would feel as if there was a wall between us”

Students went through the Europeana collection of digitized immigrant letters and discussed the role letters had in the past. They noted that the nature of communication is radically different today, therefore we cannot begin to understand the huge impact that correspondence had on them.

Session #2: Objects evoking emotions

We began our second session pinpointing the objects charged with emotion in Valtinos’ text. Students discussed the meaning these objects assume for their owner and the emotions they evoke. They visited the “Everyday treasures” Europeana collection and wrote an immigration story using first-person narrative and adopting the voice of a cherished object. They posted their stories on padlet and received feedback from teacher and classmates both.

“…I am a token of love and feel proud of myself, out here, away from home”

As homework, students were asked to post their own short video answering the question “What would I take with me if I were to leave home?”

“…I think I would leave a part of me behind forever- nevertheless the rest of me would go forth and the object I would take with me as a token of home would be a…”

Session #3: Curating an immigration museum

In our concluding session, students created an immigration museum using photos and objects from various Europeana collections proposed by the original LS. Students were asked to choose the photos that depict more vividly –according to their opinion- the different aspects of migration and to justify their opinions. In this sense, creating the museum was the ideal closure for this journey through time and space in order to better understand the immigration phenomenon during the 20th and the 21st c.

Students chose photos that depict various aspects of European immigration all through the 20th century and up to the first decades of the 21st centuries.

Outcomes and evaluation

Students said that this LS helped them empathize with immigrants and better understand the problems they face and the challenges they have to address. They particularly enjoyed the digital museum task, since it combined creativity and ICT skills. They engaged in a heated discussion over what photo they would choose in the digital museum. Overall, students showed a genuine interest in studying the material provided and great engagement in the tasks assigned to them. They enhanced their communication and collaboration skills working in teams throughout the implementation.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario?

Writing Home: Coping with Migration by Andreas Galanos

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CC BY-SA 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on
Europeana and has been provided by the Europeana Foundation.

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