accessibility & help

Welcome fellow humans

The ban on refugees and people from several countries entering the United States dominated news coverage. In this edition of Newsthink, explore the impact on the people affected and find out about two sisters who waited at an airport while their mother was detained.

Learning objectives

By the end of these activities, young people will be able to:

  • Describe some of the emotions a family experienced during a long and anxious wait for a close relative.
  • Identify the main signs of a diabetic emergency and explain how to give first aid.

Suggested age range


Curriculum links

PSHE, Geography

Fellow feeling

Show the photo. Where do the group think it was taken? Why would someone hold up a sign saying “welcome fellow humans”?

Protestors demonstrate at Los Angeles International Airport on 29 January in response to a US ban on all refugees and people from several countries© Info

Invite the group to identify the news event it relates to.

After discussion, confirm that the photo was taken on 29 January at Los Angeles International Airport in California in the US. Protestors held demonstrations around a number of airports in response to a ban on all refugees and people from several countries entering the US.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that the restrictions on people entering the country could affect 20,000 refugees who might come to the US over the coming months.

The agency refers the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement. According to a UN statement, these are “people needing urgent medical assistance, survivors of torture, and women and girls at risk.”

Refugees are people who are looking for a safe place to live and who cannot remain in their own country because of a genuine fear of persecution. Many are escaping conflict, and getting refugee status is usually a long process (our glossary has more useful information on refugees). The UN Refugee Agency says that those who may not be able to enter the US are “anxious, confused and heartbroken”.

  • What message would young people like to send to those refugees whose hopes for a new life might be disrupted by the ban?
  • Discuss the “welcome fellow humans” photo. What does it tell us about our what we share as human beings? How do labels like citizen, refugee or student shape the way we see or respond to one another?

Emotional rollercoaster

Focus on how the ban affected three members of an Iraqi-American family. These events began within hours of the US introducing the ban on people from Iraq and six other countries. As you go through each stage of the narrative, pause and use the suggestions to encourage young people to reflect and respond to what happened.

On 29 January two young women went to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to greet their mother. She was coming from Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. She’d recently been issued a green card giving her the right to live and work in the US. The sisters had been US citizens for some time, and the family had met just once in the past 21 years.

  • Think about the meeting at the airport. How might the daughters be feeling? What will the atmosphere be like?
  • Together agree on three words that might describe the occasion and the sisters’ emotions.

The two women, Anfal and Elaf, waited for their mother, Iman, in the arrivals area, but she didn’t appear. They discovered that the airport authorities were detaining her. As far as they knew, their mother was being prevented from coming in because of the ban introduced the day before.

By the evening, they had waited 11 hours. “We’ve been here since 8 am. We don’t know anything. We talked to her for just one minute – she was crying, she was scared.”

  • Someone you love is very upset. How do you feel when you can’t be with them? What encouragement can you give in a short phone call? What might be the most helpful and supportive thing to say?

During the night, as they continued their long wait in the arrivals hall, one of the sisters – Anfal – experienced a diabetic emergency.

  • Ask the young people to research the signs of a diabetic emergency, and how to help someone who is experiencing one. Useful information to help learners understand the topic can be found online.
  • Discuss how the situation may have impacted on Anfal in terms of contributing to the diabetic emergency or the sisters' ability to recognise the signs.

Anfal was treated for her diabetic emergency and she got better. And the next day, better news arrived. At about 2.30 pm the airport staff told the sisters that they would release their mother. Ten minutes later they saw her. As they ran to embrace her, the people around applauded. “She’s very happy,” said the sisters to a reporter.

  • Look again at the three words you selected at the beginning of this activity. What words might describe the family’s emotions in the hours following their reunion?
  • People sometimes talk of experiences as an “emotional rollercoaster”. Describe what that means in your own words. How well do you think you would cope personally? Can you be worried but still optimistic?

The source of the story about Iman and her daughters is an account and videos tweeted by a reporter. A video of the reunion can be found here.

Emotional stimulus grid

Use the grid below to explore and develop young people’s thinking about coping in a tense, emotional time. Invite reflection by asking them to make connections between different words and ideas.

Working in pairs, young people throw two dice, one for the column number, the other for the row number. Note the word in the corresponding cell and throw again to find another word. The task is to construct a sentence using the two words that describes the feelings of Anfal and Elaf, or that describes one of their own experiences.

Throw the dice again to create more sentences and afterwards invite young people to share these sentences if they want to.




















































This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in February 2017.


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