A key goal of the External Relations team is to increase public knowledge and engagement with the work of the UN Refugee Agency.
School visits offer a unique opportunity for UNHCR to raise awareness about refugees and displaced people worldwide. In addition, the External Relations team can explain what the Agency is doing to help these vulnerable people.
The presentations are designed to be interactive and students are encouraged to participate. To spark an interest in the topic, a short video is often shown. The documentary acts as a catalyst for questions, and gives students significant insight into what life is like for the 45.2 million people who are in situations of displacement internationally.
Image: Students in Carrickmacross primary school, County Monaghan.
Two of the schools visited by UNHCR in 2013 were Bracken Educate Together in Balbriggen and Saint Joseph's primary school in Carrickmacross.
On arrival at Bracken Educate Together, UNHCR was greeted with excited clamour which emanated from the sixth form classroom where fifty-odd students were seated. Such was the students’ enthusiasm that a sea of hands was raised in response to our first question: ‘Who is a refugee?’ Thankfully the children continued to channel their frantic energy towards the topic in hand which ensured that the twenty minute presentation, including a picture exercise taken from the Not Just Numbers manual, was a considerable success.
Similarly, our visit to St. Joseph’s primary school in Carrickmacross received positive feedback from the teachers and students alike. The 6th class students displayed a keen interest in the work of the organisation with questions ranging from ‘where do you get your funding?’ to ‘do refugees ever return home when the war is over?’
Image: Students from Bracken Educate Together hold up UNHCR posters
If you would like UNHCR to visit your school, please just email External Relations Associate, Jody Clarke