The Importance of Refugee Recognition


Amy Yip

Refugee, the book

Amy Yip, Editor in Chief

Before Thanksgiving break, the 8th grade students had a day filled with activities regarding a book they read in class, Refugee by Alan Gratz. They called this their “Refugee Day.” Activities they participated in ranged from building boats, reading poems, doing a lab report, and a Blooket. But with refugees being commonly taught around schools, what is it about them that makes them so important?

Ms. Gallagher, middle school English teacher and Refugee Day organizer, states that the importance of the activities were mainly to tie with events within the book, but also to correlate with the four core subjects. Regarding the importance of refugees, Gallagher says, “Students learning about refugees and immigrants gives them more of a global perspective and understands things people have gone through and continue to go through.” 

State Senator, John F. Keenan was invited to speak at Holbrook Middle-High School to speak about his experiences with refugees and their camps in the island of Lesbos, Greece. When asked about his experiences with the refugees, he stated it was “life changing”. He quotes, “It just taught me so much about the resiliency of people, how they can get through very difficult days.” What he found remarkable was that the people there are able to treat each other with dignity and respect, and their hopes were so high for their current situation. He stated that a main takeaway from his experience was, “They [refugees] just want to work and have an opportunity for a better tomorrow.” To him, it’s important for the younger generation to learn more about these people because if you venture out into the world and experience other’s lives, you’re more willing to help and step up to make the world a better place. 

Michael Schaar, 8th grader and participant of Refugee Day, stated that a main takeaway from the book was learning the struggle of people who try to escape to seek refuge. When asked about the importance of refugee recognition, he states, “I think it’s important because people take what they have for granted and they need to see, like, what people go through to get to safety.” 

Amanda Yanez, 8th grader and another participant of Refugee Day, says that an important message Refugee left on her was the refugees’ lifestyle, their experiences, and how we can inflict on their lives. Yanez states, “It’s really important to know what refugees have been through and that we should not deny them because it’s important to aid them and be able to accept them for what they’ve been through.”