"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Friday, July 15, 2011

Continuing with race

So what did we learn about our borders from the last lesson?

There are some thoughtful replies and a significant amount of grimacing as the kids try to access information from three days ago: the cogs are definately whirring.

I display the following - my list from last lesson:
* It is hard to get into Britain.
* British staff work in our embassies abroad to check for fraudulent visa applications.
* People try to smuggle themselves into the backs of lorries at European ferry ports.
* A lorry driver can be fined £2,000 for every illegal he brings into the country.
* If an illegal has no identification he can’t be deported.
Asylum seekers should claim asylum at the first free country they arrive in.
* People who employ illegals can be fined £10,000 a person.
* The U.K Border Force exists just to track down illegals.
* All countries have a legal obligation to house genuine asylum seekers and refugees.

"It's hard to get into Britain? But they all come here."

As I said before, prejudices are being challenged but they aren't being given up easily.

I'm sorry. Weren't you here last lesson? Didn't you watch the film of the work of the Border Agency?

There is a brief conversation about the use of the words "they" and "all" in terms of stereotyping. The young man concerned decides that now would be a very good time to shut up.

"Sir, this thing about claiming asylum in the first free country. How is it that we have all the asylum seekers then?"

Which country in the world has the largest number of asylum seekers or refugees?




Yes. Pakistan. What's happening around Pakistan?

It's at this point that their lamentable grasp of geo-politics kicks in. Eventually someone suggests Afghanistan and they begin to grasp why large numbers of people have crossed the border from one country into another. We talk about immediate safety but also about a shared language and a shared culture - although on reflection I'm not so sure about language. They seem to get it.

"Why are so many here then?"

Which European country has most refugees and asylum seekers?


Austria. The list actually goes Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg and then the U.K.

"Austria takes more than us?"

Not in numbers, but in proportion to the size of their population. The statistics are per 1000 of the population.

"Where did you get those figures?"

The UNHCR website.

"The what?"

The United Nations Refugee Agency.

This takes some digesting as it is off-message as far as the tabloids are concerned. In the end, the learning point of the lesson might well be "You can't trust the tabloids." That seems to be a good outcome and we've not even started on race yet.

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