Start the Conversation

Immigration and Refuge

Jan 6, 2022

Immigration and Refuge

With increased media attention surrounding immigration, family separations, deportations and asylum seekers, your young ones may have questions regarding this complex topic. Last year, we started the conversation and helped provide your young one with an empathic social-emotional understanding of immigration through story and theatre. This year, we’re going to continue that conversation. This extended video is designed to provide your young ones with information about immigrant and refugee experiences while exploring what it might feel like to arrive and be welcomed to a new place for the first time.

Start the Conversation

In this video, Teaching Artist Sindy Isabel Castro creates a framework for grown-ups to begin, or continue, a conversation about immigration with young people. Sindy begins by defining two key terms: immigrant and immigration and talking about the history of immigration in America. Then, she reads Dreamers by Yuyi Morales and explores a family’s story of immigrating to America.

After our time with Miss Sindy, Miss Caitlyn will share the definition of refugee and discuss some of the reasons people seek refuge in different countries. Then, young people will use their imaginations to explore what it might feel like to be in a new place for the first time and how to make someone feel welcome.

Intended Age Group: Kindergarten – 5th grade

This video may be helpful for…
  • Families & Young people with immigrant or refugee origins looking to begin or continue a conversation about immigration and refugee experiences.
  • Mixed status families living in the US.
  • Families & Young people without immigrant or refugee origins People looking to begin or continue a conversation about immigration and refugees in America.
  • Educators looking to begin or continue a conversation about immigration and refugees.
Questions We Will Explore
  • What is Immigration?
  • Why do people immigrate?
  • Who is an immigrant/ who can be an immigrant?/ What makes someone an immigrant?/ What does an immigrant look like?
  • Who are refugees?
  • Why do people become refugees?
  • What challenges do folks who immigrate or seek refuge in America face?
  • How can we make people feel welcome in new spaces?
Before Watching
  • We encourage adults to watch with their young person. That way you can take in and process information together. Adults can also help by pausing the video and assisting their young person in answering and asking questions.
  • Make sure you are ready to dive into this topic. If you, the adult, or your child are actively experiencing heightened emotions (anxiety, fear, anger, etc.) around immigration or refugee experiences, wait until you are both feeling more relaxed to discuss these topics.
  • If after watching this video or engaging with this topic your child becomes more anxious, overwhelmed or scared than you perceive is typical for them, it may be helpful to reach out to a medical or mental health professional. Resources can be located through your school or local healthcare facility.

Resource Guide

This guide is designed for grown-ups to continue their education and grow their resources

Activity Guide

This guide is designed for grown-ups to share with their young people to continue the conversation and practice tools/themes shared in the video.

Add To Your Library

If you enjoyed the book featured in the video, add it to your family library! By purchasing the book through our affiliate links, you’ll be supporting local bookstores and NYCCT’s work.

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Start More Conversations

NYCCT’s Start the Conversation series has covered topics like race, civic duty, immigration, re-emerging from COVID-19 and more.

Future Conversations

NYCCT wants to hear from you! Is there a topic you’d like to see covered on Start the Conversation? Let us know!


Videos were created by Sindy Isabel Castro and Caitlyn McCain. Immigration lesson plan by Sindy Isabel Castro. Refugee and Welcome lesson plan by Caitlyn McCain.

Co-Produced by Caitlyn McCain and Nicole Hogsett

Resources and activities were created by Caitlyn McCain with inspiration from Sindy Isabel Castro, Helen Wheelock, Nicole Hogsett and the NYCCT Education Department.

Video Edits by Matt Ketai

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Translations of our resource guide and activity guide are courtesy of our friends at provides personalized tutoring in a range of subjects for students in New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, and the surrounding areas of Westchester County, Western Connecticut, Long Island, and Northeastern New Jersey. Find out how can help you achieve your learning goals right now.

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