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Volume 63, Number 6November/December 2012

In This Issue

Classroom Guide

For students: We hope this guide will help sharpen your reading skills and deepen your understanding of this issue's articles.

For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without further permission from Saudi Aramco World, by teachers at any level, whether working in a classroom or through home study.


Jump to McRel Standards


Usually in the Classroom Guide, we identify themes that draw the articles together. This time is different. Three articles in this issue lend themselves to different kinds of opportunities, and together they offer three case studies.

“Little Syria, NY”: Case Study 1 — Immigration

If you’ve studied even a little history, you probably already know that waves of immigrants arrived throughout North and South America over several centuries. And if you follow the news these days, you know that millions of people all over the world continue to immigrate—to move from one country to another, to build new lives someplace else. When you study immigration, there are some questions that you’ll see over and over again. “Little Syria, NY” gives you a chance to address them.

Why do people immigrate?

The first big question to ask when you think about immigration is: Why? Why do people decide to uproot themselves, leave everything and everyone they know, and move to another country? Working in small groups (to make it easier to have a conversation), discuss the question. If you’re an immigrant yourself, or your parents are, share with your group why you moved. If an earlier generation of your family immigrated, talk about why they moved or share what questions you might have about why they did. Draw on your knowledge of current and past immigration, and include “Little Syria, NY” in your discussion. Why did the more than 40,000 people the article describes decide to leave their homelands and come to the United States?

As you talk, write down the reasons you’re hearing why people immigrate. Which of the reasons involved people leaving a place because living there was such a negative experience, such as fleeing religious persecution? Which of the reasons have more to do with the promise of what might await them in a new country, from practicalities such as jobs to such wishful thinking as finding streets paved with gold? People who study immigration call these reasons for moving “push factors” and “pull factors.” Negative conditions in the land of origin push people to leave, while hopes of a better life pull people to the new country. Sort your group’s list into push factors and pull factors. Where do most of the immigrants discussed in “Little Syria” belong? Do some people experience both?

What do immigrants find when they arrive?

Another question that inevitably comes up when thinking about immigration is what it was like in the new country. As you might imagine, many immigrants find both positive and negative aspects to their new lives. Make a T chart with “Positives” heading one column and “Negatives” heading the other. Read through “Little Syria, NY” and find examples of the immigrants’ experiences that belong in each column. Look at the finished T chart and imagine that you were one of the people who had immigrated to Little Syria. Think about what your experience might have been like. Make a few notes if you want; you’ll have a chance to write about it shortly.

How much do immigrants maintain their home cultures and how much do they assimilate to new ones?

A third question in exploring immigration is the question of adapting to the new country. Do immigrants continue to speak their home language, learn the language of their new homeland or a combination of both? Do they dress like they did at home or like their new neighbors? Do they change a name that their new neighbors find difficult to pronounce or do they help their neighbors learn to pronounce it? Every immigrant has faced these questions, as have their children. In “Little Syria, NY,” what evidence do you see that people maintained elements of their original cultures? What evidence do you see of their assimilating into American cultures?

Now put it all together. Imagine that you immigrated to New York’s Little Syria in the late 19th century. Write a letter to a friend who is still (“back home”) in Syria or Lebanon, explaining why you think your decision to come to New York was or was not a good one. Include in your letter all the elements you have discussed here: reasons for moving, experiences upon arriving, and questions of assimilating.

“The Happy Ones?”: Case Study 2 — Unintended Consequences

“The Happy Ones?” is about hamadryas baboons that live in Saudi Arabia. In particular, the article discusses how human beings—just by going about their business—have inadvertently changed nearly every aspect of the baboons’ lives, from their social organization down to their very biology. That makes this article about hamadryas baboons a great example of unintended consequences.

What does the phrase “unintended consequences” mean?

Before you can begin to think about the unintended consequences of human behaviors on baboons, you need to be clear about what exactly the phrase unintended consequences means. Write a definition of consequences. Compare it with the definition that the person sitting next to you has written. Are you both more or less in agreement? If so, do the same with the word unintended. When you’re done, with your neighbor write a definition of unintended consequences, and have pairs share their definitions with the class. Then see if you can come up with examples of unintended consequences, either from your own life, or from a current situation you’re aware of or from something you’ve learned about history. Have volunteers share their examples.

What have people done that has affected the baboons of Saudi Arabia? What unintended consequences have their actions created?

Go through “The Happy Ones?” with two highlighters of different colors. With one color, mark the passages that describe what human beings have done that has affected the baboons. With the other color, mark the passages that describe what those effects have been—in other words, how the baboons have been affected. When you’re done, make a cause-and-effect diagram that shows the human actions as the causes and their impact on the baboons as the effects. Then think about which effects were in fact intended and which ones were the unintended ones.

Once an action has caused an unintended consequence, what, if anything, should people do?

Once actions have led to unintended consequences, what do you do? Would it be better to do nothing, figuring you’d already caused enough trouble? What if that just makes it worse? Or would it be better to try to correct or improve the situation somehow? (And what if that creates new unintended consequences?) Now that you’ve read about how humans have affected the hamadryas baboons, what would you do? Would you intervene again or not? How? Working with your group, make lists of the benefits and drawbacks of taking action and of not taking action. When you step back and look at your lists, what decision do you come to? Have each group share its analysis of the situation.

Now turn your attention again to the article, which reports that the Saudi Arabian National Wildlife Research Center has already made one decision. It believes people must stop feeding the baboons and that the way to get them to stop is through “public awareness campaigns.” What might such a campaign look like? Working on your own or with your group, create a piece to contribute to such a campaign. Your piece can take whatever form you think will be effective. Here are a few ideas: an audio or video public service announcement; a Web site that informs people about the ill effects of feeding baboons and persuades them to stop; a lesson for students in a classroom (you can use the Classroom Guide as your model!); a newspaper ad; a legislative proposal. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Share your final product with the class.

“Free Running Gaza”: Case Study 3 — Dignity in Confinement

If you have ever studied slavery, you probably know that, amid the terrible conditions in which enslaved people were forced to live, they sometimes found ways to maintain their families and retain cultural traditions. In other words, they found ways to hang onto their humanity and dignity in oppressive situations.

The third article, “Free Running Gaza,” provides a case study in how people live in confining circumstances. The article describes a place where 1.7 million people live in a tiny area with very limited access to the world beyond its borders. Yet, as you will see, the people profiled in the article have found ways to live with dignity.

Start with the idea of “obstacles.” Read the article, and make a list of all the obstacles it identifies. Then think about what it must be like to live in the Gaza Strip. What would you do if you faced such obstacles every day? Either write your answer or discuss the question with a partner. Then go through the article and circle the parts that describe free running and what Mohammed Al-Jakhbeer and Abdullah Enshasi say that it means to them. How does free running relate to the obstacles they face? Does their way of making sense of their situation make sense to you? Write your thoughts about it in a journal entry as a way to help you think. Don’t worry about turning it in or getting a grade. Here are a few thoughts to prompt you.

The obstacles that Al-Jakhbeer and Enshasi face are literal, physical obstacles. How does free running relate to those physical obstacles? How does it help overcome them? Although free running might not literally free them from obstacles, how does it free them? What kind of obstacles does free running dismantle? What value do you see in dismantling such obstacles?

Think about an obstacle that you have faced. It can be simple, such as taking a class in a subject you don’t like and find difficult. How have you dealt with it? Consider what Al-Jakhbeer says about facing obstacles as a free runner: “We approach each obstacle in a different way. We improvise as we move. We look at our object, figure out ... how to overcome it and develop a strategy, then and there.” He emphasizes the need for “agility, strength and flexibility.” Try applying this approach to your own obstacle. What would that look like? How might it help?

Analyzing Visual Images

Now that you’ve had a chance to work with three case studies, think about how to illustrate them. Start by looking closely at the images that accompany the articles. Then choose one from each article that best exemplifies your case study. Don’t read the captions in the magazine. Instead, write your own. In each caption, describe how the image represents the theme you have studied: immigration, unintended consequences or dignity in confinement. Your captions can be up to a paragraph long, so don’t be shy about what you include in yours.

JA12 Standards Alignment
McRel Standards

Little Syria

United States History

Standard 17. Understands massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity

Historical Understanding

Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective


Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

Happy Ones?


Standard 14. Understands how human actions modify the physical environment

Standard 15. Understands how physical systems affect human systems

Standard 18. Understands global development and environmental issues


Standard 6. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment

Standard 7. Understands biological evolution and the diversity of life

Free Running Gaza


Standard 4. Understands the physical and human characteristics of place

Standard 13. Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface

Physical Education

Standard 3. Understands the benefits and costs associated with participation in physical activity

New Flavors for the Oldest Recipes

World History

Standard 3. Understands the major characteristics of civilization and the development of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley

Historical Understanding

Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective


Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

Standard 15. Understands how physical systems affect human systems

Julie Weiss ([email protected]) is an education consultant based in Eliot, Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies. Her company, Unlimited Horizons, develops social studies, media literacy, and English as a Second Language curricula, and produces textbook materials.