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Courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk
Liberia: A Brief History Founding: Liberia was founded in 1822 as a place where freed slaves were returned from America. It gained independence in 1847. It should be noted most of the freed slaves were born in America and their heritage came from other parts of Africa. They became known as Americo-Liberians. • First Civil War: From 1989, Liberia began a civil war between government forces and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, headed by Charles Taylor. The war killed nearly 200,000 people and caused millions of refugees to flee. This continued until 1996, when Taylor was elected president. • Second Civil War: Taylor won the presidential campaign largely due to terrorizing people. He committed many human rights crimes against his people. And, he is said to have supported forces in Sierra Leone, trading weapons for diamonds, and have used child soldiers. Opposition to Taylor started almost immediately. The war restarted in 1997, lasting until 2003. • Present: In 2003, Charles Taylor resigned his presidency, ending the war and fleeing into Nigeria. He was eventually turned over to the International Criminal Court and is currently being tried for war crimes. In 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia. She is the first elected female head of state for Africa. Key Terms • altruistic – unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others • civil war – a war between parties, factions or groups within the same country • opportunism – taking advantage of opportunities and circumstances • patriotic – a person who vigorously supports his or her country and its way of life • telecommunications – the science of technology and communications For more information on the history of Liberia view the interactive history at http://www.guardian.co.uk/flash/0,5860,988886,00.html If students are interested learning more about the rebuilding of Liberia, encourage them to read, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. •
Global Voices Youth Story
This youth story is intended to help younger students understand the issues and general themes presented in the Global Voices column. Educators are encouraged to choose between the column and story, and use the accompanying resources and questions that best suit their classrooms and teaching goals. Returning Home
Imagine you left your home and lived for 11 years in a wealthy place where life was easy? Then, imagine that you returned to your old home to find it broken down, bare and empty. Would you stay and rebuild? Or, would you run back to the better place? Henry Benson was born in Liberia, a country in West Africa. He grew up there and went to university there. Then, he saw the opportunity for a better job in the United States. After Benson graduated, he moved to California in 1998. Benson made a good life for himself in California with a career in the telecommunications field. He started a computer education program, got married and had two children. He had a life that most people dream of when they move to the U.S. When Benson moved to California, his home country of Liberia was facing a terrible civil war. A man named Charles Taylor ruled the country. He has been accused of war crimes. Many people opposed his rule. This caused a civil war that killed more than 200,000 people. On top of that, the war destroyed many homes and properties. In 2009, Henry Benson returned to Liberia and found it very different from when he left. Even though Charles Taylor had finally been thrown in jail, Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, had been destroyed. It looked more like a small town than a big city. Its phone lines were destroyed, which meant only rich people who could afford cellular phones could use a telephone. None of the fax machines worked. It is very difficult to rebuild a city when the builders cannot communicate by telephone or fax. Because of all this, Benson had lots to share with the people of Liberia. He could help rebuild their telephone wires and systems. So, he moved back to Liberia. Benson knew this would be a big change, but he grew up in Liberia. He had some idea of what to expect. For Benson’s wife and children, it would be much harder. They were born in the United States. They were used to watching television after work or school, shopping in a nearby grocery store and going to the movies on the weekend. They were used to seeing billboards advertising iPods. The only billboards in Liberia advertised people turning in guns. The lives of Benson’s wife and children would change forever. Benson says about his wife, “I’m hoping she gets more comfortable. It seems like she is going to be okay.” It is important for Benson to help his home country. The question is whether he and his family can be happy together in Liberia.
Global Voices Elementary Educator Resources
Note to Educators:
The following activities are designed to stimulate a current events discussion. Generative in nature, these questions can be a launching point for additional assignments or research projects. Teachers are encouraged to adapt these activities to meet the contextual needs of their classroom. In some cases, reading the article with students may be appropriate, coupled with reviewing the information sheet to further explore the concepts and contexts being discussed. From here, teachers can select from the questions provided below. Activities are structured to introduce students to the issues, then allow them to explore and apply their learnings. Extension and conclusion activities are included to challenge students and finally, encourage them to reflect on the issues at hand. Since these activities are designed as discussions rather than formal lessons, assessment strategies are not included.
Themes and Course Connections
• • • • • • Immigration, emigration, refugees, diversity, culture, multiculturalism, citizenship, family heritage, inclusion Course Connections: Social Studies and Language
Chart paper Markers Two bean bags of different colours World map
Specific Expectations and Learning Goals
Students will: • Research their cultural heritage • Communicate “hello” in different languages • Take a critical look at media sources • Participate in active class discussions • Define important terms from the Global Voices column • Learn about diversity • Write a reflection around what they can do to make a new student feel comfortable in their classroom
Knowledge and Understanding
1. Hello (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. The goal of this activity is to heighten cross-cultural awareness, celebrate diversity and say “hello” in many different languages. b. Ask if there is anyone in the class who speaks a different language and ask them to raise their hands. c. Challenge the class to say “hello” in as many different languages as they can. When somebody volunteers (for example, Bonjour!), record it on the board and ask the class to state what language this is in. 3
d. Allow the students who speak another language to become “experts” and explain to the class how they would respond in their own language. e. Encourage the students to stand up and mingle around the classroom, saying “hello” to their classmates in different languages.
1. Read the Global Voices Column as a class (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Discussion i. Ask the class to work together to retell the events of the column in their own words. ii. Ask students to explain how they felt while the column was being read. Did they feel sad? Why? Did they feel angry? Did they feel hopeful? Why? 2. Hot Potato Definitions (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Explain that there are some very important terms found in the Global Voices column that they all must learn. b. Define the following terms with the class: i. Immigrant ii. Immigration iii. Citizenship iv. Refugee v. Culture vi. Diversity vii. Multiculturalism c. Have the students sit in a circle. d. Explain that one coloured bean-bag is for the vocabulary word and the other is for the definition. Give one bean-bag each to two different students. Begin playing music and have each one toss the bean-bags to different classmates. Have the students continue tossing them as long as the music is playing. When the music stops the student who has the word bean-bag must choose one of the above words, while the student who has the other bean-bag must give its definition. e. Continue playing until the students are familiar with the definitions. 3. Media Literacy (estimated time:15 minutes) a. On a piece of paper ask each student to write the heading Global Voices Column at the top of the page. Underneath the heading, have them create a chart with two columns across and five rows down. b. In the first column, have them write the following questions: i. What is the title of this column? ii. Who is the author? iii. What is the purpose of the column? iv. What statistics or facts are listed in the column? v. Are their biases or obvious points of view? c. Have the students revisit the Global Voices column and fill in the chart answering the above questions. d. Discuss the students’ charts as a class. Address the reasons why it is important to understand the source and potential bias of a website or print resource offering news information. Explain that just because a source has a bias doesn’t mean it has no value. One of the traditional purposes of publications is to express opinions and attempt to convince readers of their validity. Explain that this is why it’s important for each of them to form their own opinion while reading publications instead of agreeing with everything.
1. Diversity: Walk Apart – Walk Together (estimated time: 20 minutes) a. Ask two volunteers to come to the front of the room and stand with their backs together. b. The audience is asked to call out things that are different about these two volunteers. Explain that sometimes differences push us apart and as each difference is called out instruct the volunteers to take one step apart. c. When the volunteers reach the end of the available space, have them turn and face each other. Now ask the audience to call out things that are similar/alike about the volunteers. As each similarity is called out, the volunteers take one step toward each other. d. Explain to the students that it is easy to pick out the differences between ourselves and others. That accepting and honouring these differences in others, and looking towards our similarities is what will help us live in a more inclusive, accepting and peaceful world. e. Ask the students to pretend that a new student has just arrived in their classroom from a different country. It is their first time in Canada and they don’t have any friends in the school yet. Ask the students to write a reflection around what they will do to make this new student feel comfortable.
1. Family origins (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Display a world map at the front of the room. b. Ask the students to think about where their family is from and come to the front of the room and label this spot on the map. c. After each student has had a turn, ask the class to look at the map and discuss what they see using the following questions: i. What does this map teach us about the people in our class? ii. What types of things should we be doing in our classroom to honour this diversity? d. Ask the students to go home that night and ask their parents the following questions: i. Where is my family from? ii. When did they first come to Canada? iii. Why did they first come to Canada? iv. Where did they first settle? v. Are there any other interesting facts about my family? vi. Do we practice any traditions from our country of origin? e. Have students report back to the class with the answers to these questions.
In addition to the above lesson plans, you may want to share some additional resources with your students. Listed below are some links to useful online resources: The UN Refugee Agency - http://www.unhcr.ch/ The Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
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