We decided to investigate a topic that touches us directly and personally both as Italians and Europeans. Every day we hear of the arrival of people who escape from their own countries, embark on makeshift vessels to reach the shorelines of Italy, Spain and Greece to find a better future in Europe. What do we really know of these people? Are we growing accostumed to their arrival? Are we bombarded with misinformation and negative propaganda? As you already know, the only answer to these question is that of finding as much information as possible and compare and contrast your sources. Then you can grow independent in your thinking process and make your own opinions about any topic. For this very reason we looked into this sad reality and we studied the differences betweeen asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrant. We looked at different websites, we read different articles and we read Beverley Naidoo’s novel “The Other Side of Truth”.
Which cover do you like best? Why?
The novel “The Other Side of Truth” by Beverley Naidoo represents our springboard into a harrowing issue, so close to all of us. Human beings deprived of the chance to live in a free democratic country, of leading a dignified existence, risk their lives to reach the shores of Italy and find their way in Europe. We will look into the lives of some teenage refugees or asylum seekers who will cast some light into an aspect of our century that is so distant fromt the lives we take for granted.
Look at the following cartoons, what common message do they have?
Social advertising is used by non-governmental organizations to raise people’s awareness to social ills and discrimination, to problems that plague and affect mankind, among which there is the dreadful and appalling reality of people forced to leave their countries to survive. Look at the following ads and mention which makes you reflect the most and why.
We tried to dispel misconceptions and myths about refugees, yet there are still some resistances aren’t there? There are still lots of people, in our families too, that may think that refugees represent a threat to our society.
Reading “The Other Side of Truth” certainly helped us experience what some young people have to go through when their families try to “smuggle them” into another country to safe their children’s life, to give them a future they as adults are perhaps deprived of. We asked ourselves “What does it mean to be a refugee?” “How does that feel?”
There is also an application called “My Life as a Refugee” that you can download. What do you think of it? Do you think it proper or improper? Why?
This poem inspired some of your older school mates to do the following project.
The following are some of your digital products prompted and sparked by the reading of the novel. I am very proud of you.
I would like you now to focus on the possible activities you can create on “The Other Side of Truth”. You can work individually or in pairs. You need to get organized because you are recommended to diversify the activities so that all of them are covered.
- Create a Book Trailer (You may want to write a script that somehow encapsulates the core theme of the book and act it out. You can use different applications: Screencast-O-Matic, Adobe Spark, Animoto, VoiceThread) or a Book Review (You write a review and then you shoot a video showing the book and urging other adolescents to read the book. You could read an important short passage and mention why the book, in your opinion, should be read).
This is what a student wrote for the School Library Journal:
With political insight, sensitivity, and passion, Naidoo presents the harrowing story of two Nigerian children caught in the civil strife of their beloved homeland in the mid-1990s. Eighth-grader Sade Solaja and her fifth-grade brother, Femi, are hastily stowed out of Nigeria after their mother is shot and killed by assassins’ bullets meant for their outspoken journalist father. The children are abandoned in London and are unable to locate their uncle, a university professor who has been threatened and has gone into hiding. Picked up first by the police and then by immigration authorities, the youngsters remain silent, afraid to reveal their true names and background. They are placed in a foster home where kindness does not relieve their loneliness and alienation. School is a frightening plunge into Western culture, relaxed discipline, ethnic harassment, and peer intimidation. When their father, who has illegally entered the country, contacts them from a detention center, the children are jubilant. However, their excitement is overshadowed by his imprisonment and subsequent hunger strike. Sade enacts a plan to tell “Mr. Seven O’Clock News” her father’s story. Public attention and support follow, prompting his release. Tension and hope alternately drive the story as Sade and Femi grapple with an avalanche of decisions, disappointments, and discoveries. Traditions temper Sade’s despair as she remembers times at Family House in Ibadan, and her mother’s quiet admonition to be true to yourself. Through these compelling characters, Naidoo has captured and revealed the personal anguish and universality of the refugee experience.
Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
- You are a journalist and you interview Femi and Sade: What is it like to be a refugee? What are the main differences between their life back home and her life in London? What are the things that baffle them about living in the UK?, etc. (This activity is meant for three students. Use the application Spreaker)
- You are a Journalist and you interview the writer Beverley Naidoo. Ask her questions about her novel “The Other Side of Truth” and about her writing and life in general.
- You are a Journalist and you interview Sade and Femi’s father, who is a journalist himself. You visit him in the detention centre. Ask him questions about Nigeria, about his wife’s murder, about the future of his children, about his hope for the future, etc.
- Write one page of the diary either of Sade’s or of Femi’s. You choose the event you want to write about. This is about self-reflective writing, so the way you respond to important life’s experiences and challenges, your response to thoughts and feelings, a way of making meaning out of what happened to you, an opportunity to gain self-knowledge, a way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what your life is.
- Write a poem about the difficulties of being accepted in a foreign country and of being an asylum seeker.
- Create a video to sensitize people to the issue of escaping from a country to seek help and refuge in another country. This video should promote awareness of the difficulties faced by children who are sent or taken to another country to see their lives spared, it should also have some of the effective features of social advertising.