UWS Exhibit Aims to Teach About the Refugee Experience

Taylor Holt
Updated: March 28, 2018 07:10 PM

For some, it may be hard to imagine being forced out of the place you call home, but it's a reality millions of refugees face worldwide. An exhibit at UWS is hoping to give people a better understanding of their journey..

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"There are 65 million refugees today so clearly there is a crisis," said Haji Dokhanchi, UWS Professor of Political Science, who helps put on the student-run exhibit, that's been going on for almost 10 years. "This is a very lively and relevant issue in today's world." 

Wednesday, students took part in the interactive exhibit, which included a made-up minefield - where students had to try and avoid popping balloons that simulated mines. 

The display looks at the refugee experience from Syria to Europe, and even in the U.S, and aims to give an idea of what it's like to be a refugee and the challenges refugees face.

"This is my third time doing it, so thankfully I have had the opportunity to learn," said UWS Senior Sophia Johnson. Now, she is on the other side teaching people what she's learned. 

"Going through all the stations is actually very interesting to see how other people reflect and how they see it," she said. She also helped research one of the new stations this year on federal budgeting and how much money is spent on foreign assistance. 

At each station in the exhibit, the students role these dice and that determines their next step as a refugee, but it also symbolizes how out of control a refugee is of their own fate.

"There's all sorts of unseen situations and scenarios so the idea is to take these individuals through the entire experience," said Dokhanchi.

"A lot of people die coming over, they drown in the sea or get sent back and forth and so I think that stuck out to me the most in the exhibit," said Bobbi Jean Miller, a UWS Sophomore. "A lot of this stuff, I don't think I would ever know. I don't think its something we talk about enough."

The exhibit also touched on challenges in healthcare, and the legal system. Dokhanchi says he hopes leaving an exhibit like this can change the many misperceptions when it comes to refugees, like the difference between Migrants and Refugees.

"The major misperception is people tend to confuse the populations of migrants with refugees. Those are two very distinct populations," he said.

He says he always hopes for good feedback from the people who experience the exhibit.

"From my perspective, it's very good because most people seem to have a better understanding of this after," said Dokhanchi.





Taylor Holt

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