RESPECT is growing everyday, everywhere!

Non-refugee School Information

Welcome to RESPECT

The stated goals of RESPECT are:

  1. To increase awareness of refugee issues among non-refugee students in participating countries.
  2. To build bridges between non-refugee students and refugee students through pen-pal letter exchange.
  3. To encourage students to act to raise awareness of refugee issues and to raise some funds for their refugee school.

As a teacher or student leader, your participation in RESPECT can consist of step 1, step 1 & 2, or you can work through all three steps. Perhaps you might decide to work on step one this year, step one and two next and all steps the year after that.

It is entirely up to you.

The following paragraphs will help to facilitate the progression through these steps. PLEASE feel free to ask any questions or make any comments.

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There are a great number of resources available out there to educators and laypeople free of charge for building awareness of refugee issues. We will be making some specific suggestions for you to order so you are able to receive some basic publications in a timely manner. While there are certainly others, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are the two biggest publishers of refugee related material to our knowledge.

A list of resources can be found on our resources page.

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RESPECT is developing an every-growing list of contacts with refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) schools around the world. Countries include Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Guinea, and Uganda.

We would be very happy to introduce your class to a class of refugee students of similar age and academic level by pen pal letter exchange. While we may be able to give you some choice as to country, it would be best if you will accept what letters we have on hand, the refugee students can receive their letters in a timely fashion.

It has been our experience that participating students can be quite excited to initiate a letter correspondence with a boy or girl from exotic countries.

There can be no better way to build awareness & understanding of refugee life than through letter exchange.

Over the last year, we have learned a few things that are stated below:

  1. Before distributing letters it is important to discuss with the students the possibility of disturbing content. The students who wrote these letters may well mention the loss of a parent or parents, they may write about the effects of war in their country of origin and life in the camp.

    It is your prerogative to screen letters before handing them out to ensure that even after preparing students only the most mature students receive the most mature letters.

    Please note that while SOME letters may be quite serious, others will just write about music they like, clothes and whatnot - kids are kids.

  2. Students may well want to include some kind of gift in their reply letters.
    This is not recommended.
    Very simple things like a bookmark, sticker, or whatnot are fine tokens but any more will make other pen pals jealous and very possibly might be stolen from the letter package by postal workers.
  3. Pen pals appreciate receiving photographs, postcards, cute stationary and so on.
  4. Please post your letters within about two weeks of receiving them from us.
  5. The first one or two exchanges should be sent as a group to save on postage and ensure delivery at the same time. Please include 2 or 3 international reply coupons with your package, so the refugee school can reply without incurring costs. (IRCs can be bought for about $3.50 at your local post office.)

To request refugee letters, please fill out the non-Refugee School Registration Form online. Include the number of students, grade level, range of ages you are willing to accept etc.. Please note that we will be sending you ORIGINAL copies of letters. If you do not post replies to those letters, none will be posted and those refugee children will be disappointed. (We recommend the teacher take care that each student receives a reply. This is easy if all students are in one class. If you are just having some interested students write, you can photocopy each letter, distribute the photocopies writing each student's name on their original and then hand-over the original letter after the reply had been handed-in.)

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Building awareness of world issues through videos and discussion and growing a personal connection between students here and refugee students there through letter exchange leads rather naturally to a desire to do something to help.

As stated before, if fundraising is not something you as a teacher or student leader are interested in facilitating this year - that is fine. You can only do what you are comfortable doing.

If you decide fundraising for your refugee school would be a good way for your students to feel like they are doing good for their neighbors far away, we have a few suggestions:

  1. A bake sale - organize a bake sale either at student's home or at school to raise funds.
  2. A talent/variety show - plan a talent/variety show at school to invite everyone to come out to support the cause -large funds can be raised this way.
  3. A garage sale - organize a garage sale either at home or at school - you can ask for donation of items from family and teachers.
  4. A pancake breakfast - organize a pancake breakfast at school.
  5. Collection jars
  6. Raffle Funds can be anywhere from $10 to $1000.

Ten dollars may buy a small gift for your school - a poster for example, or it may pay for the postage for a number of used posters already around your school but not in use. With larger quantities of funds raised, you can send more stuff. We recommend you focus on sending larger quantities of used materials than to send one or two new things.

Recommended items include:
Used microscopes & slides, used school posters, quality student science projects, transistor radio, solar powered calculator, international reply coupons, and so on! Of course, there are many ideas about what kinds of items to send.

We would recommend you send items a whole class or a whole school could share, instead of pencils and whatnot that need to be distributed to specific students.

** RESPECT one day would like to try to send used textbooks and science equipment no longer in use in our schools to refugee schools abroad. Currently, this costs more than we can easily afford. If you have any ideas as to how we might practically accomplish this goal, or your school has a large quantity of items that could be donated in the future, please contact us.

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Contact Information

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