International Migrants Day Lesson Plan

Teacher resources and discussion guide

Credit: UN Photo / Used with permission


On December 18, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

On December 4, 2000, the General Assembly established December 18 as International Migrants Day.

On September 19, 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (NY Declaration), committing to strengthen and enhance ways to protect migrants and refugees.



Students watch one or all of the following films on the issues of immigration and migration, then consider the discussion questions and activities.


Gray Areas

Produced by:Cheri Gaulke, Jackson Kroopf, and Alethea Paradis

Two U.S. teens travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to explore the gray areas of governmental policies and human experience in this contested region.

The Fabric of America

Produced by:Gandhi Brigade Youth Media

This film explores the many sides and issues of the immigration system, a complex and controversial topic, and shows how these issues manifest locally, in Montgomery County, Maryland.

HIAS - For the Refugee


This film was produced for World Refugee Day, to publicise and spread awareness on HIAS' mission and values for the last 130 years.

Discussion Questions and Activities

1. Why is it important that groups such as HIAS exist to help refugees globally? Research other organizations that help refugees and share their stories with MY HERO. 

2. Gray Areas explored the issue of the deportation of undocumented people to Mexico. What are the consequences of this policy? Do you know anyone who has been affected by deportation? Share their story with MY HERO. Consider filming an interview.                                  

3. Madres y Familias and Veterans for Peace, two organizations in Mexico working to assist people affected by deportation, were featured in the film Gray Areas. Identify organizations in the United States assisting those individuals and families who have been affected by immigration policies.     

4. Research the immigration policies today in the United States. Discuss the pros and cons of these policies. Do you feel strongly about this issue? How can you get involved? 

5. When did your family immigrate to the United States? Interview relatives to learn about the members of your family who immigrated to the United States. What challenges did they face and how did they overcome them? Share their story with MY HERO. Consider filming interviews to create a video of your family's story to submit.  


Students read the story and watch the film about Right to Play, an organization started by Norwegian Olympic Gold medalist speed-skater Johann Olav Koss that brings games and joy to refugee children in Africa. Then students consider the discussion questions and activities. 

 This story is in text with audio allowing students to listen as they read along - Great for ESL/EFL Students


Johann Olav Koss: Right To Play

By: Wendy Jewell from The My Hero Project

Johann Olav Koss is a Norwegian Olympian who founded Right to Play.

Right To Play [Excerpt]

Produced by:Frank Marshall

Olympian Johann Olav Koss embarked on a remarkable journey to use sports to improve the lives of African children.


Students read the story and watch the film to learn about Chukou Thoa. He started the National Hmong American Farmers to assist a community of farmers, originally made up of refugees from Laos after the Vietnam War, who were being discriminated against. Students then consider the discussion questions and activities. 


Chukou Thao: National Hmong American Farmers

By: Wendy Jewell from The My Hero Project

The short film "CHUKOU THAO" is a finalist in the "Professional Portraits of Organizations" category in the 8th annual MY HERO Film Festival.

Chukou Thao

Produced by:The Working Group
Chukou Thao, executive director of National Hmong American Farmers, organizes Hmong farmers in his community to fight injustice.


Students read the following stories about refugee and migrant heroes, and those who have helped people in these situations, before considering the discussion questions and activities.

Two stories are available in text and audio allowing students the opportunity to listen as they read along. 

Great for ESL and EFL Students


Budi and Peggy Soehardi Roslin Orphanage

By: Wendy Jewell and David Kemker

Budi and Peggy Soehardi Roslin Orphanage provides a loving home to care for displaced and orphaned children in East Timor.

Dorothea Lange

By: Amanda from San Diego

"To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable... But I have only touched it, just touched it." -Dorothea Lange

Great for ESL/EFL Students

These two stories are available in text with audio so students can listen as they read along. 

Judith Ann Mayotte

By: Monica Olson

Judith Ann Mayotte is a former Catholic nun, television producer and humanitarian who wrote "Disposable People? The Plight of Refugees" in 1992.

Cesar Chavez

By: Annie from San Diego

Cesar Chavez was a tireless advocate for migrant farm workers.

Discussion Questions and Activities

1. The Soehardis Roslin Orphanage and the Right to Play organization help refugee children. What other organizations or people work to help refugee children around the world? Share their story with MY HERO.

2. Dorothea Lange is a photojournalist who documented the lives of sharecroppers, displaced farm families and migrant workers in the United States during the Depression. Research her photographs. Which ones do you feel a reaction to? Discuss the story Lange was telling by these photographs. 

3. Chukou Thao created the National Hmong American Farmers organization to assist farmers who originally came from Laos after the Vietnam War as refugees and were being discriminated against. What other organizations work to help refugees in the United States? Share their story with MY HERO.

4. Cesar Chavez fought for the rights of migrant farm workers. Who today is working to improve and protect migrant workers. Share his or her story with MY HERO.

5.  Judith Ann Mayotte overcame adversity and devoted her life to shining a light on the global refugee crisis. Do you know anyone who has overcome adversity and made a positive difference in the world? Share his or her story with MY HERO.


Mural art, created as a cross-cultural activity, reveals the beauty in diversity and the stories that immigration brings to a community. 

Students analyze the murals below and are encouraged to work together to create a mural that showcases the heritage of where they live or their families to submit to the MY HERO Gallery. 


Our Dreams and Treasures

By: Okazakijosei High School in Japan and Iraqi/Palestinian Refugee Team in Jord...

High School students from different backgrounds illustrate their hopes and their origins in this mural achieved in Jordan as part of a cross cultural activity.

The Global Refugee Mural

By: Joel Bergner

The Global Refugee Mural created by Joel Bergner with Action Ashe! Global Mural Project is in Maryland to illustrate the different cultures found in this vibrant community.

Across The Waves

By: Joel Bergner

This mural created by Joel Bergner with Action Ashe! Global Mural Project is located in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, celebrating the history and culture of the immigrants of the community.


Laura Nietzer

The International Migrant Day lesson plan was curated by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

MY HERO Related Links

International Migrants Day Curated Showcase
World Refugee Lesson Plan
Credit: MY HERO

MY HERO Calendars for use in the Classroom

MY HERO's Teachers Calendar Features Lesson Plans and Multimedia Resources

Teachers Calendar
Credit: MY HERO

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom

External Links

What would a day without migrants look like? Contrary to popular belief, migrants play an important part of the economy. Check out these stories from migrants on I Am a Migrant.

I am a Migrant Stories
Credit: x

Students can share their Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

How to use MY HERO's Create Program to Publish Stories, Art, Film and Audio for Students

Tutorial for students: Publish written stories, film, original artwork and audio in MY HERO's multimedia library.

Create Program
Credit: MY HERO

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

Organizer created on 10/28/2019 5:51:52 PM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 1/8/2024 12:14:49 PM by Laura Nietzer