When it comes to hearing stories that are simultaneously harrowing as they are inspiring, I find myself lost for words – rare for an English teacher, I know!
I’m going to be honest – I don’t love watching films. I’d much rather binge-watch multiple episodes of a true-crime documentary than commit to watching a movie. It’s partly my tendency towards restlessness as well as my love of an early bedtime that deters me from making a 2+ hour commitment. But the holidays are an exception!
I sat down to watch ‘The Swimmers’ on Netflix. I had read some of the sensational reviews about the movie that came from the Toronto International Film Festival and, given my interest in literature concerning the immigrant experience, a few students had recommended it to me.
On 28th December I sat down to watch the movie. I can’t remember the last time I was so captivated by a film. The film is based on two real-life sisters from Syria – Yusra and Sara Mardini – who fled their war-torn home in Damascus, swam for hours in choppy Mediterranean seas to reach Greece as asylum seekers before going on to compete at the Rio Olympic Games.
I should have something more poignant or intellectual to say about the film. But sometimes when it comes to hearing stories that are simultaneously harrowing as they are inspiring, I find myself lost for words – rare for an English teacher, I know! So instead of finding something salient to say, I’ve put together a free resource on an extract from Yusra Mardini’s autobiography for teachers to use in class. You can use this source material as a springboard into some really important conversations alongside practising language analysis skills.
You can download the lesson for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.
And if you aren’t a teacher, then I implore you to watch the movie. You won’t regret it.
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(Photo description: two sisters in the ocean smiling and laughing. One sister is on the other sister's back.)