Welcome to the New World Curriculum and Learning Guide

Welcome to the New World Curriculum and Learning Guide” teaches crucial and timely issues through the story of the Aldabaans, a real family of Syrian refugees who arrived in America on Election Day 2016. Journalist Jake Halpern shadowed them for four years and partnered with illustrator Michael Sloan to turn the family’s experiences first into a Pulitzer-winning comic in The New York Times, then into the full length graphic novel Welcome to the New World.

In partnership with Halpern, The Immigrant Learning Center has created a curriculum based on his graphic novel. The series of nine lessons, written for grades seven to 11, teach students about refugees, the migrant experience, the Syrian Civil War, and other topical issues. It also helps students learn how to interpret and analyze a graphic text. The lessons can be used collectively as a curriculum or as individual lesson plans. They can also be adapted for other grades. Worksheets, graphic organizers, resources and rubrics are included. Watch our webinar, “Teaching the Refugee Experience: Welcome to the New World,” featuring author Jake Halpern and other experts, to learn more about the graphic novel, the Aldabaan family and teaching the curriculum to diverse classrooms.

For more tools to teach immigration, explore our Teaching Immigration Lesson Plans and Resources page. For more guidance on immigrant stories and storytelling, check out our Immigrant and Immigration Stories resource page.

Essential questions:

  • Why do people leave their homes?
  • What factors affect their decisions?
  • What supports and challenges do people encounter when immigrating to the United States?
  • How do people respond to newcomers?
  • What is the refugee crisis?
  • What is our responsibility toward refugees?
  • How does a graphic narrative effectively tell a story?


Social Studies, English Language Arts, World History or Current Events classes


Refugees, Syrian Civil War, migration, assimilation/acculturation, graphic novels




Nine lessons, to be used serially or individually

Common Core Standards:

This curriculum fulfills these Common Core standards:



Welcome to the New World Curriculum and Learning Guide cover

DOI: https://doi.org/10.54843/XYBQ9136

Webinar Recording

Our webinar, “Teaching the Refugee Experience: Welcome to the New World,” covers implementing “Welcome to the New World Curriculum and Learning Guide” in the classroom, teaching about refugees and teaching refugee students. Watch a former refugee student outline his perspective on how teachers should work with refugee students above or watch the full webinar here.

Praise for Welcome to the New World

The New York Times says, “Sloan and Halpern deliver a story that fully inhabits its comics form, and breathes with an easy visual elegance.”

Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People’s Poet Laureate and author of Habibi, says “Welcome to the New World is a project of the greatest humanity and care…. Americans need this book to help them understand the sorrow that makes people leave their homeland, the hardships they face, and the resilient dreams they never stop carrying.”

Kirkus Reviews calls the graphic novel “An accessible, informative journey through complex issues during turbulent times.”

Welcome to the New World has a rating of 4.3 out of 5 on Goodreads. One reviewer says, “This story really sang to me because I too am an immigrant to the USA.”

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