Imagine the sound of a hundreds kids chatting, echoing out of tune. Your sweaty hands clutch onto your lunch box. People's eyes are riveted on you as you try and find a place to have your lunch. You think to yourself, why won't anyone let me sit by them?
New Zealand has a hidden problem. Many immigrants don't feel welcome here. One in ten people in New Zealand feel like they are being treated unfairly. 55 percent of these people feel like this because they are judged on their race, skin colour or the country they come from. Lots of people experience prejudice every day.
Prejudice is judging someone by the way they talk, look or act before you even meet them. This can often happen before you even know anything about them. We learn about this though TV, books or friends and family. For an example, when a girl from Iran went to school here on her first day somebody asked her “Is their bomb in your lunchbox”, just because she was from Iran. And when she went to work at a cafe, someone asked where she was from she said “I am from Iran,” the person looked away and ignored her. This is an example of being prejudice. People said this because they had false ideas about her that were based on from where she came. These type of words can be hurtful and make people feel isolated.
There are many ways to make immigrants feel welcome, for example just smiling or saying hello can make a difference on how they feel and make them feel happy. But we can do more than just saying hello; we can include them in games, or asking if they need any help. This can make them feel more included. If you saw a new kid at school sitting by themselves what would you do? Would you ask if they were ok, or just ignore them?
There are many ways to make immigrants feel unwelcome. It all starts with staring, laughing as they walk pass or whispering about them. Put yourself in their position - you just started school in a different country, and you can't understand anything they say. You try and find a place to sit and have your lunch but you end up sitting down on the cold concrete and somebody comes up and says “do you have a bomb in your lunch box?” how would you feel? You should always think before you speak.
There are many ways we can make immigrants feel welcome here. In order to make immigrants feel like people are not being prejudice to them, we could smile as we walk pass, say hi, start a conversation or ask if they want to play with you. This is a important thing to do so we can make New Zealand a happier place for everyone to feel included.