On March 16, the University of Central Florida’s School of Social work held a heart-wrenching refugee simulation camp on Memory Mall. Students and faculty had an opportunity to experience the life of a refugee.
“I thought it was really interesting, like eye opening to see the differences of what they have to deal with and what we have to deal with,” said Sydney Hill, a freshman biology major. “Seeing that they have to deal with that, it makes you want to do something about it.”
In the simulation, there was a registration area and you were given a back story, then participants got a small taste of what it is like to be in a refugee camp by going through a sheltered tent, food and water tent, a health tent and a stories tent.
Students were amazed of the struggles that refugees experience on a daily basis. The refugees are provided with very little amount of food, minimal health coverage and insufficient space to live.
“I thought it was pretty shocking,” said Michelle Cherubin, a freshman business major. “Just seeing everything and how real it is. They’re given so little, like how much more can we give them.”
In the stories tent, refugees that have experienced the trauma of a refugee camp told their story.
A 20-year-old refugee from the Republic of Tanzania, Heri-Wa Heri told his story through a translator.
“I don’t like telling my story because it makes me sad,” Heri said.
Heri was born in a Tanzania refugee camp and spent 19 years in the camp. He briefly shared a horrific story about getting stabbed multiple times at the camp.
“It is so timely,” said Coleen Cicale, an academic advisor in the school of social work. “We watch these things on the news right now, we hear things, and now we can actually literally put our feet in the shoes of these people.”
This event was created last spring in Mary Mann’s Immigrants and Refugees class, an instructor in the school of social work. The students were supposed to participate in the event this spring along with the new class. Although the class was not offered this spring semester, the student’s passion for immigrant and refugee awareness drove them to continue with the event as planned.
“I want to dispel some of the myths around who is a refugee and what’s the criteria,” Mann said. “I want to educate and create advocacy. We want this to be the beginning of each year talking about refugees and immigrants.”