WHA Refugee Simulation

Have you ever wondered what life is like for the 20 million people living as refugees around the world? Though each refugee’s journey is unique, many face similar challenges along the way. This year seven Webster Geneva students participated in a refugee simulation aimed at giving the student refugees insights and raising awareness of the global crisis among the broader student body. The simulation, organized by the Webster Humanitarian Association (WHA), took place from Tuesday 8th to Friday 12th September on the Webster Geneva campus.

 

"It was worthwhile, challenging and humbling at the same time,” Michael Artigues, a Webster Geneva Study Abroad student, reflected on his time in the camp, “the whole experience was more immersive than I had anticipated and I come out with a greater appreciation of what it would be like to be a refugee.” Throughout the four day simulation, the student refugees prepared all their own food over a campfire with firewood they collected from the nearby forest. They fetched water for cooking, washing and drinking from a village about a kilometre away, simulating what it would be like to have to search for clean drinking water. They heard talks from professionals in the refugee and migration field and participated in simulation activities aimed to get them thinking about what life would really be like for a refugee.

WHA Refugee Simulation

The simulation is designed to challenge the students both mentally and physically, testing them to their limits. “The hardest part was imagining what it would be like if this was a real situation” said Ron Bert Lomada, a Webster Geneva Senior, “if all the activities we took part in were real life and I had to fear for the security of my family members every time they went to collect water or firewood, it would be hard”. For Anaita Azizi, a sophomore student, the most challenging element was dealing with the boredom and uncertainty and it brought home how hard it must be to have to deal with a situation where the average refugee spends 17 years in camps waiting for a durable solution.

WHA Refugee Simulation

Overall all the student refugees agreed that it was a worthwhile experience. “It was really humbling” said Oliva Kavishe, a study abroad student whilst Kiera Drymalski said that although it was “definitely challenging, I’m really glad I went through it and I think it’s something everyone should do”. Nathan Trout summed up his experience saying “it’s really changed our views, beliefs and future goals in life. I could see helping refugees as a career choice”.

This refugee simulation is an annual event and if you have any questions about the simulation or are interested in helping out refugees around the world, get in contact with the Webster Humanitarian Association on Facebook or at wha@webster.ch.

Story, photos and video by Jessica Wright.