Setting the Stage
Tell students that Syria, a country in the Middle East, has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011, when the government responded violently to citizens who had taken to the streets to oppose the oppressive Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad. To date, refugees have been fleeing Syria in unprecedented numbers. Images and stories of refugees have flooded the media, which has helped to inform the world about the struggles taking place both within Syria and during refugees' search for freedom and safety outside the country.
Explain to students that an individual's story, told visually either through a photo or a film, can help to comprehend a larger issue, like war, by making it more accessible. Ask students if they have heard or seen any images about the Syrian conflict in the news. One well-known image has been widely circulated throughout the media—a 5-year-old boy in an ambulance after an airstrike in Aleppo. Ask students to view this photo in this article on NPR.
The photo's powerful impact has helped people around the world empathize with the plight of refugees. Ask students to consider why a personal story through an image like that of the Syrian boy, might be more powerful than facts or statistics? How does an image like this impact you as a viewer?