Youth For Refugees’ refugee simulation educates students on crises

Students walked through an interactive display on Wednesday, March 27


By Sam Hanson

Hoping that the five items they chose at the beginning would help them survive, junior Braeden Wiltse and senior Tyler Jeanneret read information at the Western Balkans exhibit during the Youth for Refugees Simulation on Wednesday, March 27.

John Lehan, JagWire reporter/photographer

During Youth For Refugees’ refugee simulation on Wednesday, March 27, students stepped into the shoes of a refugee by walking through an interactive display.

Students grabbed a sheet of paper representing backpacks of different color, then walked between displays representing different countries. Each display had facts about refugees and a scenario for students to follow based on their backpack color.

The simulation engaged students in a refugee’s journey, according to Youth For Refugees member Zach Bossert.

“It is really to bring the people of Mill Valley to realize all [refugees] go through because most people won’t sit down and read [about refugees] themselves,” Bossert said. “[The simulation] gives them the opportunity to come and experience … what [refugees] have to go through each step of the way.”

The scenarios could tell students they had died at sea, got caught in camps or border crossings or successfully made it to the next country. Sophomore Adam White better connected with refugees after going through the simulation.

“[The simulation] really expanded upon my experience of how these refugees feel and how they go through their journey,” White said.

At the end of the simulation, participants were encouraged to help support refugees by spreading the word and donating time and money. Bossert went into the simulation without high expectations, but felt the simulation succeeded because students took time to learn from the displays.

“I expected some people just to run through the entire [simulation] not really reading anything,” Bossert said. “A lot of people stopped and read all the details, so I think [it] worked pretty well.”

Many students traveled through the simulation in groups and watched as their friends’ journeys split from their own. White and sophomore John Fraka traveled to the simulation in a group after hearing about it in class.

“We heard about it in our AP Euro class and thought it would be an interesting experience,” Fraka said.

The simulation was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 27, but a snow day postponed the event. Bossert said finding a new date was difficult.

“Seminar here is always packed; there is always something going on,” Bossert said. “It is hard to find a date that is free and open.”

For Bossert, the best part of the simulation was seeing fellow students care about international issues.

“It put a smile in my heart, that there were people who would care about this, who are interested in the world outside of Shawnee,” Bossert said.

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