Monday 26 October 2020

Imperial War Museums tells the stories of ordinary people whose lives have been affected by war and conflict. This resource introduces students to Gulwali who talks about his memories of home in Afghanistan before the war forced his family to pay people smugglers to get him and his brother out of the country to, hoped for, safety in Europe.

This resource primarily supports the Well-being and Health/PSHE curriculum areas for students working at KS3/ 3rd/4th levels. However by following Gulwali’s journey, and the journey’s taken by many refugees fleeing war in Afghanistan and Syria, it would also support the teaching of History and Geography.

A filmed interview with a refugee is provided alongside Teacher Notes and Suggested Activities supported by items from IWM’s Collections with links to follow-up resources.

Content Warning: Before you watch or use this resource, we advise you that the content aims to help students explore challenging emotions around child smuggling and the experiences of refugees and features real stories from IWM’s collections of people who have experienced these emotions first hand. This resource includes an interview with a person who describes the dangers and circumstances of being a child refugee.

Content Advice: The film contains descriptions of the impact of war in Afghanistan in 2001 and references to human trafficking,

The story of Gulwali

The story of Gulwali

One refugee fleeing war in search of a home. 

Teacher Notes

Gulwali was born in Afghanistan and in this extract from a longer interview he describes how the rich agricultural land of his family became a battleground. With the dangers increasing his grandparents and parents took the difficult decision to pay smugglers to take Gulwali and his brother out of Afghanistan. Gulwali endured a ‘hellish, difficult journey’ before finally arriving in the UK.

Download the Teacher Notes for background information to his story and guidance on how to help support students respond to the film and its themes through the suggested activities below.


Curriculum Links

Find out more about how this resource is mapped against some of the themes and content topics found in the curricula for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Suggested Activities
What is home? A Discussion

Discuss Gulwali’s film and his description of what made Afghanistan home and what has helped to make Britain feel like home; Students could have two different coloured pens or post-it notes to differentiate both locations. What do students think are the most important features that makes a place feel like home? Which of these features relates to their own sense of what makes a home? Are there any other features or qualities that they would need to make a place feel like it was home?

To explore this third question students should pair up with each one taking it in turns to describe their home as if they are leading their partner on a virtual tour. They should ‘walk’ them into each room using as much description as they feel comfortable with and which conveys a sense of ‘home’, pointing out key details within the rooms that they feel their partner should take note of as they tour. The person being toured should be actively listening for what is highlighted as this would suggest what is important to their partner’s sense of what makes this place feel like home to them. When each partner has completed their ‘tour’ they each note down the five or six key features that they heard mentioned that seem to them to be the key factors that make the place they toured home for their partner. Looking back at their notes on Gulwali, are there any commonalities between their and his sense of ‘what makes a home’? As a class is it possible to summarise what collectively they feel are the most important factors in what makes a home?

Gulwali mentions feeling himself to be a Global Citizen, this could be used as a starting point for discussing what the students thinks this means. Part of being a Global Citizen is to develop critical thinking skills and engage with real world issues and the two activities below take Gulwali’s film as a case study for ways of teaching students to do this.

Exchanging views

Each student has an index card. Read the following statement to the class:

Refugees come to Britain seeking safety and refuge from violence, they should be given support.’

Ask students to think about their position on the statement, they should write down their view on their card and put a number between one and five alongside it. A one would be written if their viewpoint is in ‘strong disagreement with the statement’ and a five if their position is in ‘strong agreement with the statement’. Moving around the room, students should now find someone who shares their viewpoint and discuss the statement for three minutes. The card could be used to note down if their view changes during this discussion.

Students then move on to find someone whose position is one step removed from their original position and discuss the statement for a further three minutes, and finally someone who has a very different view from them.

Finally, come together as a class and discuss the process. Ask how many pupils have found that they changed their position? If they did change their position, what led them to change their mind?  Discuss too what they think are the benefits of this process.

Community of enquiry

Watch the film of Gulwali and sitting as a group in a circle, ask the students to think about the film individually before sharing anything they found interesting. With the person beside them or in a small group, ask them to come up with a question based on what they have heard in the film; they should negotiate with their partner or small group as to which question they choose.

Once the choice is agreed each group explains why they think that this is the key question to ask and tries to encourage the rest of the class to select their question as the focus for the ‘Community of Enquiry’. Ask the students if any questions are linked by similar themes and allow plenty of time for the process of decision-making so that a communal decision is made.

The group whose question has been chosen share their thoughts on answering it before the discussion is widened to the whole class.

If students are less confident, the first step could be missed out and pre-prepared questions could be distributed to each partnership or small group, or the class could collaborate on suggesting questions which are taken down before each group is given one to complete step two. Questions could focus on reactions to asylum seekers, such as: ‘Why do some people have negative views of asylum seekers?’ to addressing the point of view of the asylum seekers: ‘Why do people work illegally?’ or ‘What challenges does an asylum seeker face in another country?’

The activity ends with a final debrief where the students are asked for a final statement in relation to the question. This is followed by a chance to discuss the process and what went well, what other issues were raised, what was fun and what was annoying. What factual errors or misconceptions emerged? These could be the focus for further enquiry.

Explore More

These IWM resources support further exploration into the role of British troops in Afghanistan and give an insight into the effects of the war on some of the people involved.

What Was the British Role in Afghanistan?
In 2014, British combat troops left Afghanistan. British forces had been in the country since 2001 when they were sent as part of a coalition tasked with intervening in Afghanistan to find the leaders of al-Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
John Lorimer
Contemporary conflict
Afghanistan and the British Military
In spring 2014, IWM staff visited Afghanistan as part of IWM's Contemporary Conflicts Programme. In the individual accounts presented here, senior Army officers reflect on how the war in Afghanistan has affected the British military.
IWM (LAND-02-012-0452)
11 Photos from the Day International Football Returned to Afghanistan
On 15 February 2002, a landmark football match took place at the Olympic Stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan. A local team, Kabul United, played members of the International Security Assistance Force in front of more than 30,000 spectators.