Migration and public health are two sides of the same long human story – people migrate to find healthier lives for themselves and their children. Migrants bring new ways of learning and new pools of knowledge, and the energy of the newly arrived along with them, helping to advance economies and cure diseases.
Migrants tend to be healthier, on average, than their new neighbors, according to a 2018 study published in The Lancet. Yet in too many cases they are feared not only as cultural interlopers but as carriers of disease.
A number of new resources for teachers can help make the connections between migration and health, including the impact of COIVD-19 on migrants across the globe.
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Erol Yayboke, a researcher at the Center for Strategic International Studies, recently published a highly readable article, “Five Ways COVID-19 Is Changing Global Migration.” High school students should be able to read and understand Yayboke’s clear and plainly-stated argument. His five key points:
- Migrant labor stops moving during a global health crisis like COVID.
- Global inequity rises when labor stops moving.
- Limits on mobility, like tighter or closed borders, tend to stick even after the health crisis passes.
- Asylum seekers and refugees get even less support in their host nations than before.
- Global migration moves more and more into the shadows, increasing health impacts, in a pandemic.
The group Educators for Social Change offers a nice suite of web resources, knitted together into a lesson plan, on their “Teaching about Pandemics” page, to add context to Yayboke’s more in-the-moment essay.
The E4SC page links to particularly vivid – and off-putting – videos about smallpox and the 1918 flu that most adults might rather skip, but middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who need a gross-out bolt to really appreciate what disease can do might be the ideal viewers.
Educators for Social Change also offers a terrific collection lessons and related materials on their “Teaching about Undocumented Migration” page – highly recommended.
That page includes a link to the Teaching Tolerance resources on “Recognizing the Undocumented,” an effective set of teaching tools that includes first-person testimony from a 33-year-old poultry-plant employee in North Carolina, living the typically strained existence of an undocumented migrant sending most of her pay home to family in Mexico. A section on “Separating Fact from Myth” is especially valuable for middle-school and high-school students.