Amnesty International hosts Syrian refugee simulation

The Amnesty International Club hosted a simulation of what it is like to be a Syrian refugee during lunch on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Students and faculty walked around the first floor of the main building with possession cards that represented the items that they could fit into a backpack. Members of Amnesty International took possessions away from the “refugees” and gave out disqualification cards which meant that they had been killed. The goal of the activity was to show the participants how dangerous it is to try to escape from Syria.

An Amnesty International member talks to the group at one of the first checkpoints.

An Amnesty International member talks to the group at one of the first checkpoints.

The refugees who were participating stopped at multiple checkpoints, including the World Languages hallway (Turkish border) and the Drama room (Mediterranean sea). They were stopped by Todd Van Peursem, a “border guard,” at the Turkish border. There, the “refugees” had to turn in papers and possessions in order for them to cross the border.

Once they crossed the border, the “refugees” made it to the Mediterranean Sea, where they were put in a circle and enclosed with a tube to represent the raft. Refugees who fell out of the tube were disqualified.

Mary Beth Leland, the advisor for the Amnesty International Club, decided to do the simulation rather than a lecture because she felt it was more interesting and interactive.

A member of Amnesty International talks to the club during their meeting on Thursday.

A member of Amnesty International talks to the club during their meeting on Thursday.

Leland said that the club’s main goal was to raise awareness. She also wanted to make sure that people knew that there would be opportunities in the future for the students and faculty to help support refugees.

Junior Ashley Lamar participated in the event and said she was inspired to join the club.

“I think I will join the club to see how much we can help because I did not know that it was such a problem. I don’t think we learn about it enough during school, but we should,” Lamar said.

Lamar said that she enjoyed the fact that it was more of a visual presentation because it helped her understand the problem better.

Mr. Van Peursem pretends to be a Turkish border patrol guard during the Amnesty International event.

Mr. Van Peursem pretends to be a Turkish border patrol guard during the Amnesty International event.

Junior Natalia Dixon also participated in the event and said that she hoped that the event will spark a discussion about the refugees.

“It was a good activity to raise awareness in the school and get more people hearing about it. Even though I have been seeing the posters, I wasn’t really sure what it was,” Dixon said. “I hope that people saw everyone walking around and that people get more interested in Syrian refugees so that it opens up a discussion at Redwood about them.”

The Amnesty International Club will be hosting a follow-up event in Room 185 on Friday, Feb. 17.

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