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What Should I Take With me as I Leave

A book by two authors, kindergarten teachers, Niki Kantzou and Filio Nikoloudi who have written many books on the acceptance of diversity.

 

The aim of this book is to raise awareness among teachers and students about the timeless issue of refugees.

 

According to Article 1 of the Refugee Convention of 1951, a refugee “is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion and who, owing to such fear of persecution, is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country or to return to it” (UNCR, 2008).

 

At the end of 2015, the number of people forced to flee their homes exceeded 65 million – half of them children (UNCR, 2015).

 

These figures show how important it is to inform and raise public awareness of the refugee issue in order to create a culture of tolerance and respect for the rights of refugees (UNCR, 2008). In particular, through interactive activities, games, and appropriately selected children’s books of intercultural content, the education community can help children explore the ideas of tolerance, justice, peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding.

 

An educational programme for kindergarten and primary school children has been created, as well as workshops and seminars for teachers, based on this book.

 

The aim of the educational programme is to encourage children

  • to put themselves in the shoes of refugees who are forced to flee their homes and homeland and have to choose a few objects to take with them (empathy).

  • to realize that there are also journeys that are different, not pleasant, but necessary.

 

It is a story that sensitively invites young and old to become aware of the contemporary social issue of refugees, to gain empathy towards the difficulties faced by millions of our fellow human beings and to understand the right of everyone to a better life regardless of their place of origin or residence.

 

War, Uprooting, Refugee, Nostalgia, Hope, New Homeland…

 

A suitcase lives the refugee life, fills with memories, travels across seas and mountains in the hands of a child, meets other suitcases and finally arrives in a place to make a new beginning. But wherever it is, it carries the soul, memories and aspirations of its owner. The narrative of the suitcase begins as follows:

 

I am a suitcase, like so many others. I lived in a house with other suitcases. 

With joy, with sorrows, with laughter, with little disappointments.  

Sometimes I travelled for business, sometimes for holidays.                                                                                                                                       I loved the holiday trips the most because they were always putting optimism inside me. 

Suddenly something changed…

 

The book is complemented by educational activities that help children, together with their friends, their parents, and their teachers, to learn, reflect, feel and not remain uninvolved. 

 

The foreword for the book is provided by UNHCR.

AUTHOR

Evangelia Kantartzi

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