Seven students at Webster’s campus in Geneva spent four days living as refugees to gain insight and awareness of a global crisis.
The refugee experience tested the students both mentally and physically, just like a real refugee scenario.
Sara Banoura, a journalism student and member of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement in St. Louis, said she was skeptical when she first read about the simulation. She said she did not know how close to reality it was.
Banoura said the reflections made by those who participated reassured her that the refugee simulation has the potential to change hearts on and off campus.
“The Syrian situation is eye-opening to every other refugee situation,” Banoura said. “It’s not just about politics, it’s about humanity.”
By the end of 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated there was around 19.5 million refugees around the world. This year, millions of Syrians have fled their homes to migrate into Europe.
“Many of the U.S. taxes go to warfare,” Banoura said. “I think it’s really important that our local campus experiences some of the realities that our taxes create.”
*Miranda Kenny, President of Amnesty at Webster University, said she believes many people do not understand what it is like to be a refugee in transition.
“It’s important that we step back and understand what they really go through,” Kenny said. “Refugees are given a certain portion of food and water every month and they have to make it last. It’s really challenging, especially when you have children to feed.”
According to Webster’s Geneva website, the students prepared their own food over a campfire using firewood they gathered themselves. They collected water for washing, cooking and drinking from a village half a mile away.
“Students are going to be in power one day,” Banoura said. “We need to spread knowledge and awareness and recognize our fellow human beings.”
Editor’s Note: Miranda Kenny is also a photographer for The Journal