The following 90 minute lessons are a culminating project for a novel unit on Children of the River by Linda Crew. The book shares the struggles of Sundara, a Cambodian teenager who escapes from the Khmer Rouge and ends up in an American high school in Oregon. Once in the USA, Sundara faces new struggles of trying to fit in with her classmates while honoring her family’s Cambodian traditions. Before reading this novel, students read and discuss conflicts/genocides around the world that took place prior to the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia. The conflicts discussed were: the Colonists and the Native Americans, the Armenian Genocide, and the Holocaust. After reading the novel, a survivor of the Cambodian Genocide spoke with the students. Classes also watched the movie "New Year Baby."
In these culminating lessons, students take a wider look at social conflicts, genocide, Upstanders and the Traits that Transcend (from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, www.jfr.org) and reflect on the relevance of these issues and ideas to their own lives.