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The Refugee Crisis

2/05/2018 - Breaking News: Shelling continues on British cities as Prime Minister Theresa May calls for international aid.

British streets are in chaos as artillery and tank fire levels homes and landmarks. British citizens are being forced to leave in their thousands, heading to ports for boats to the US as Europe falls. Leaders in Africa and the Middle East are being urged to open borders to help the flow of refugees leaving Europe. Iceland, Canada and parts of Scandinavia are already witnessing overcrowding in border camps while the American Navy guides British refugee boats into 'Safe Harbours' and 'Counting Camps' in neighboring Caribbean islands.

5/05/2018 - Breaking News: Reports are coming in of minefields laid on routes to UK ports.

Minefields are causing massive civilian casualties and the congestion of refugee groups seeking escape as these routes are permanently closed across the UK. Other routes through forests and mountains have been blocked by the destruction of bridges and sniper fire with many Brits choosing to hide in their homes rather than leave. Reports from London, Edinburgh and Birmingham are that food and medical supplies are at an all time low due to aid blockades and looting. UNICEF UK, the British Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontiers have declared a humanitarian crisis.

8/05/2018 - Breaking News: UK refugee camps are reporting high levels of disease, malnutrition and crime As world leaders debate their border policies, Theresa May has urged her European counterparts to allow open borders for UK families but so far neighboring countries seem reticent to take action. Aid organisations report hundreds dead and thousands dying from diseases in what they call some of the worst conditions they have worked in.

15/05/2018 - Breaking News: 407 British refugees drown in sinking boat off the coast of the US.

The US navy have reported that a boat carrying some 600 British refugees, fleeing the war in the UK and bound for New Jersey has capsized, killing hundreds. The boat, designed to hold no more than 200 people is said to have run out of fuel and may have been drifting for up to 6 days. Bodies are being recovered but marine organisations on the US East coast have been warned to expect bodies to wash up on the shores.

See this happening? No, neither do I. But we're watching it happen every day for other people. Shelling, snipers and minefields, long and dangerous migration routes, closed borders, overcrowded refugee camps, sickness and death, hunger malnutrition and fear. Followed by a political beard scratch over their rights.

Opening dialogue on subjects like this, particularly in schools, is often difficult. People are divided by opinion. In schools, I hear children repeat the rhetoric of the news or their parents, largely unaware of the real situation. Otherwise, we are distracted quickly by another story...Syria today, the Royal Wedding tomorrow. I don't know what the right answer is, and I don't expect the children I teach to either. But discussion and debate are healthy. Open dialogue allows us to engage the subject with facts, research and our emotions. So in this #MinecraftHumanities project I've created a situation designed to incite emotional dialogue. Empathy, confusion, anger...even fear. What if this was really you? What if we were the ones in this situation.

Lesson One - I've created a Minecraft world in which learners start in a British town, looking largely as they know their surroundings to be. As the students carry out another, curriculum relevant, though unrelated task, the town is shelled (I drop TNT) and they are forced to leave. Before doing so, I or the non-player characters (NPCs) instruct them to grab just three items from a chest in their homes, including food, water, documentation, clothes, shelter building materials and more. They must prioritize these items and then leave for the coast.

Lesson Two - Upon leaving, the map is designed to offer only one way out, via a minefield. All other routes are blocked by debris or an enemy arm. This facilitates teamwork and the importance of planning and patience, while opening dialogue about this horrific practice, some players don't make it through the minefield and of a class of thirty students, only around 20 might make it to the coast. Those who don't make it cannot just 'respawn'. This is vital to the story. They become observers and journalists and take up a pen and paper journal to report on the plight of their surviving peers.

Lesson Three - Players that do reach a port find there are not enough boats for everyone, facilitating discussion on choices about human life and value. Children, women, the sick, the able...who goes and who stays and why? This has led to some genuinely worrying conversations with students about the value of groups of people. Gender, age and race have been the topic of difficult debate. Lesson Four - Next, learners visit a boat overloaded with people. Stranded and desperate, they must explore all of the options available to them, while meeting refugees (NPCs) and traffickers who talk about their place in the narrative.

Lesson Five - In this lesson, students become refugee, held in a refugee camp. They meet other refugees and talk with guards, exploring the difference between refugees and migrants as well as legal and illegal entry to another country. Once they have entered the new city, they learn about access to education, healthcare, law enforcement, public services, housing and more, as a refugee.

Lesson Six - Students then design and create temporary housing for refugees. Adopting STEM learning throughout, students solve the solution of housing design and engineering, social integration, aesthetics, access to public services and more.

Lesson Seven - Finally, students visit a 'safe space', in line with the work of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation's work. A large area in Minecraft that they can use to study the third Human Right, the right to safety and security. Students consider their own safe spaces, their right to feel and be safe and so too the same rights for everyone.

Learners must decide where to go and provide the appropriate documentation where necessary.

Refusal into either area will mean death from exposure. Entering into a given area, students must study and then propose their plan for survival. Short and long term.

It's been fascinating watching and listening to learners of all ages debate each stage of the journey. Comments and questions raised include:

'Where is the UN?, Don't they stop this?'

'I'd just run through the borders, they're not exactly going to kill me are they?'

'I think the boys should get the boats, the women need to stay and protect the children

'British people should get to go first, other people already have other countries to return to' 'Why wouldn't they let us in? We come from Britain'. Eye opening stuff.

This world and all accompanying lessons will be available to download for Minecraft Java and Education Edition in early January 2019.

In the meantime, if you would like to help us support children who are refugees, please consider donating to this incredible charity:

If you would like more information on this lesson, the worlds we create to facilitate it or would like us to run this with your teaching staff, please contact us directly.

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