The simulation took place outdoors near the KFC Patio on Creighton University’s campus. (Erin Stabile — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
(Omaha, Nebraska) May 5, 2014 —The Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Refugee Camp Simulation is an interactive experience designed to raise awareness of the realities of life for people in refugee camps. By providing insights into the often harsh conditions of camp life, the Refugee Camp Simulation allows students to grow in solidarity with the millions of refugees living in camps worldwide.
On April 22, 2014, JRS/USA representatives traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to facilitate the walk-thru simulation at Creighton University.
The simulation took place outdoors near the KFC Patio on Creighton University’s campus. Students who elected to participate were first given an identity card that provides basic information about a refugee. The card also contains the refugees’ story, which serves as a lens through which students can view the experience.
The simulation continued with stations providing information about food, water, and shelter in a refugee camp; each station included statistics, pictures, and visual or interactive tools. The water station, for instance, displayed one gallon of water to represent the amount of water allotted to one refugee per day in a camp.
Students also found a five gallon bucket of water, symbolizing only two minutes of an average American shower, and were asked to carry that bucket for 10 steps. Most refugees in camps access water through communal wells, which means they have to carry the water back to their tent, often far from the water source. This activity is meant to give the students an idea of just how difficult that might be.
"Personally, I was impressed by the setup of the simulation. Participants were not merely given statistics about refugees. They also used props, to aid in further grounding what was learned with the realities refugees face," said Justin Sears, a Creighton University student and the event organizer.
At the conclusion of the simulation, an information and advocacy table provided students with literature and other information about the work of JRS/USA, as well as an opportunity to sign-up for Action Alerts. JRS/USA Outreach Coordinator Erin Stabile, and JRS/USA Mission & Identity Coordinator Fr. Kevin White, S.J, also invited students to an evening presentation to learn more about the work of JRS worldwide.
"The simulation helped put a face on the lives of refugees which are so abstract to us in the United States," Sears said. "Of course, JRS has many similar Jesuit values to Creighton. One of the pillars of the Creighton education is to promote justice. The events facilitated on campus provided vital information for the appropriate promotion of justice. Our actions must be informed and grounded with the people in need in order to affect positive and effective change in their lives. The work of JRS/USA on our campus helped to provide this leap of awareness."To request a refugee camp simulation at your school, please email the JRS/USA Outreach Coordinator.