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"I now see how hard it really is to live in a refugee camp. After being frustrated, overwhelmed, and nervous for about an hour I cannot imagine what it would really be like if it was my real life for years at a time. After the simulation I feel like I have deep respect for the people who are experiencing this or have gone through it before, successful or not."
"I learned how truly difficult it is to be a migrant. I didn't realize until after this simulation, all of the struggles refugees face. Whether it's crossing the border of a country, escaping their own country, being in a refugee camp, malnutrition, being betrayed by coyotes, or not being accepted into resettlement. I am inspired to help refugees, now, as a kid. Maybe even becoming someone who helps refugees resettle as a career when I grow up." --Abby
"The waiting game killed me, when I was in jail, holding cell waiting in those obnoxiously long lines. It really made me think that real refugees are waiting for years at a time. I realized that I was getting pretty pissed off waiting for 15-20 minutes at a time, and I was shocked to think what a mental toll waiting for years trying to get in/out of a refugee camp must have". --Cole
"This changes the way I see migrants in many ways. The first way is that I feel as if I want to adopt every child that has lost their parents in refugee camps and give them everything they want. The second way is that I feel a ton of empathy for the people who have been stuck searching for a place to settle down and start their lives up again. Lastly, I feel like there are more people then I thought stuck in the refugee camps just waiting than I thought before. I think it is important for us to study the topic of human migration because it affects so many people. In our modern day world thousands of people around the world are forced to leave their homes everyday, and I think that if we can study this topic even deeper and find alternative ways to get people to their new homes, then it will make our world a much better place." --Finn
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Reflections From Participants
Walk a Mile in My Shoes: A Refugee Camp Simulation is a unique and dynamic learning experience providing a powerful glimpse into what many refugees endure when fleeing from their homes and living in a refugee camp. The three-hour experience cultivates global awareness and compassion through the practice of empathy and perspective-taking.
During the simulation, participants are divided into small family groups and given a new cultural identity, representing one of the region’s six main resettled refugee populations. These small groups then travel through the simulation where they will encounter the hardships that are common to refugees who live in camps.
The experience begins with participants fleeing their home country and encountering an obstacle course at their “national border." Those who successfully enter the new country will then proceed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees camp, where they will face the following challenges:
• registering their family as refugees at the UNHCR tent
• getting a health examination at a medical tent
• obtaining and purifying water
• securing food at distribution area
• learning a new language
Participants will have to successfully navigate each of these stations (which will be staffed by trained community volunteers), possibly having to barter their few possessions and/or evade security to avoid “jail” or being forced back to their home country.
The camp comes to a close at an interview with a USCIS officer who informs participants the grim facts of resettlement. Because less than 1% of the 16.7 million refugees in the world are chosen for resettlement, almost every family will be informed that they are not eligible to be resettled in a third country and must return the camp. One family will be chosen to represent the 1% who will be resettled in a third country.
A debriefing, facilitated by trained staff from local refugee resettlement agencies, will conclude the Refugee Camp Simulation and allow participants the opportunity to reflect on their experience and share new insights.
"The Mock Refugee Camp was the most profound professional development I've ever participated in. My eyes were opened in a new way to the experiences so many of our kids have had before getting to us. For me, as a teacher, it was life changing." – Virginia Garren, Goldsmith Elem.