Looking In, Reaching Out

Peering into the grade five classroom at Surrey Christian, you might be surprised to see a hub of students excitedly decorating tables, blowing up balloons, and setting up games and activities they have created. As the Syrian refugee families arrive, the excitement grows and echoes of “marhaba,” which means hello in Arabic, are heard around the room. The students are hosting a lunch, but the food is not what you might expect; to help the refugee families feel welcome, students have decided to try Syrian food as well. Some of the grade five students timidly try this new cuisine, only to discover they love it! After dessert, the families share about their journey to Canada and the hardships they endured along the way.
Joy is evident on the faces of both the refugee children and their parents, as well as the grade five students as they all play games, build with LEGO, make cards, and complete a treasure hunt. When it is time to say goodbye, the process is drawn out as pictures with new friends need to be captured, hugs given, and a few more conversations and activities shared. The families are not far out the door before the grade five students exclaim, “Can we do this again?”

So a second lunch is planned!

Building on the Big Ideas of Our Class Storyline

The inspiration behind these lunches stemmed from the big ideas prescribed in the social studies component of the British Columbia curriculum, where grade five students are asked to understand how immigration and multiculturalism continue to shape Canadian society and identity, as well as how Canada’s policies and treatment of minority peoples have negative and positive legacies. Curricular competencies around inquiry, continuity and change, cause and consequence, perspective, and ethical judgment guide them in their journey.

Knowing the current refugee situation, as well as the close immigration connections within our community, I wanted to invite students into an experience where they could build relationships with recent newcomers to Canada. This was yet another opportunity to weave our class storyline, “Noteworthy to God,” throughout both our curriculum and our social interactions. Max Lucado’s quote “you are valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are” (18) not only helped set the stage for our learning experiences but also reminded us of our value and worth and of God’s love for each of us. The lunches also created opportunities for us to build and reflect on the social responsibility core competency: I can demonstrate respectful and inclusive behavior, valuing and supporting the diversity around me. More importantly, the lunches were opportunities to shine the light of Christ through both our words and actions as we opened our doors and hearts to our new Muslim friends.

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