‘The struggle for welcome’ : valuing difference through refugee stories in the English Curriculum

Henderson, Deborah & Fitzgerald, Dominique (2014) ‘The struggle for welcome’ : valuing difference through refugee stories in the English Curriculum. English in Australia, 49(3), pp. 67-77.

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Abstract

This paper is concerned with how refugee stories can be used as the means of exploring values and developing intercultural understanding in the English classroom. To illustrate this possibility, André Dao’s (2005) Vuot Bien – The Search for Freedom: Huong Thi Nguen’s Story, about the impact of war and oppression on people’s lives, together with the experience of seeking freedom and acceptance in Australia as a Vietnamese refugee, is selected as the text for a Year 9 English class. In examining the features of this short story, we also consider how recent efforts to foster intercultural understanding in the new national curriculum in Australia might be advanced in the English classroom. We argue that this text and others in the genre of refugee narratives written by young people, provide vicarious opportunities to analyse how valuing freedom and having the courage to seek it can be brought to light when an individual survives one life and begins the challenges of creating a new life among strangers. Examining the values dimensions of such texts also allows young people to unpack and critique the ways in which cultural experiences, including their own, shape and form identities and how engaging with the experiences of others can be the vehicle for valuing difference. We hope our discussion might encourage teachers in other countries undergoing cultural shifts in response to the movements of people will be encouraged to consider this ‘double entendre’ in which the refugee experience is shaped not only by ‘the journey’ and also by ‘the arrival’ and the degree to which newcomers, refugee or asylum seekers, are made welcome by the receiving community.

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ID Code: 81208
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Intercultural understanding, Australian Curriculum, empathy, Asia capability, Asia Literacy, values/valuing
ISSN: 0155-2147
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Secondary Education (130106)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE ESL and TESOL) (130204)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Australian Association for the Teaching of English in Australia (AATE)
Deposited On: 20 Feb 2015 01:04
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2015 07:17

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