Who are boat people?


People packed tightly onto a boat with no room to move

Search and discover…

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

There are asylum seekers and refugees in almost every country of the world. People become refugees or asylum seekers when they are forced to leave their countries because their human rights are being threatened or violated. Nobody chooses to become a refugee.

Copyright [DOC]

View and discuss

  1. Look at the image below.
    People packed tightly onto a boat with no room to move
  2. Open a new word document in your computer and, without trying to structure or plan your thoughts, list words that describe your immediate reactions and emotions in response to seeing this photo.
  3. Using Word Cloud, create a word cloud of the descriptive words in your list.
  4. Combine your finished word cloud with all the other word clouds in your class, to make one, big class word cloud of reactions and emotions from the photo.
  5. Which words/emotions were the most common among your classmates (these will be the largest words in the class word cloud)? Did you have the same or similar words/reactions?
  6. Write a short description of the situation of one of the children in the photo. Try to imagine where he/she has come from, what is their relationship to other people in the photo, what they have been through to get to this point, and why they might have left their home countries.
  7. Share your story with your neighbour, as well as the words from your word cloud. Discuss how difficult or easy you each found the task of putting yourself in the shoes of the children on the boat.


Refugee council of Australia logo
  1. Investigate the Refugee Council of Australia website.
  2. Navigate your way through the site to find information on asylum seekers.
  3. View the Mythbusters page. Before you read it in full, open a new word document and copy the “myths” that the fact sheet mentions. Write “Agree” or “Disagree” underneath each of the myths, according to your opinions.
  4. Now read the information under each of the myths in the fact sheet:
    • Has your opinion about any of the myths changed? If so, explain why in your word document.
    • Share your thoughts and opinions with your neighbour, and ask them what they think about the myths.

Play and experience

  1. The “Against All Odds” interactive game was created by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). It is a game designed to help you experience what it is like to be a refugee or asylum seeker.
  2. In this game you can choose 3 kinds of refugee ‘experience’
    • War & Conflict: Running from Persecution;
    • Border Country: Can I Stay Here?
    • A New Life: Loss & Challenge.
    • for this activity you should choose to play
    • Border Country. You can always come back and revisit the site to complete the other scenarios.
  3. Go to the “Against All Odds” interactive site and play the game.

Read and learn

  1. Youth for Human Rights InternationalVisit the “Youth for Human Rights” website and navigate your way to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (abridged version):
  2. You might also watch the videos on the website that represent the 30 articles of the Declaration of Human Rights.
  3. Which human rights do you think are being abused for the people in the photo that you viewed and discussed in Challenge #1?


Draw from the discussions you had about the photo with your classmates, your webquest and discussion about myths surrounding refugees and asylum seekers.

Create a poster campaign

For your final task, use the information you have gathered from the first 4 challenges to create posters to display in your classroom and/or around your school.

  1. Form teams in your class of 2-3 people. Each team should choose 1 article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the whole class has agreed applies to refugees or asylum seekers in situations of transition and displacement.
  2. Once you know which article of the UDHR you will be representing on a poster, get some ideas by watching (as a group!) the related video on the Youth for Human Rights website.You may also get some ideas from the children’s rights posters at the Big Banter [PDF]
  3. Brainstorm ideas within your group for how you’d like to represent your particular human right/UDHR article. Think about what it is that’s being protected by that human right, as well as what happens when it is not protected. Which side is easiest to represent in a simple way on a poster?
  4. Create your poster and present it to the class!