On October 10th, Wilmington College held their annual Westheimer Peace Symposium with the theme “Welcoming the Other.” The idea for the Symposium was to bring knowledge to students about all aspects of refugees and immigrants in hopes of making students more accepting.
Classes were cancelled throughout the whole day and instead there were events around campus that students could attend. One of these events was called “Passages”, a game simulation in which students became refugees for three hours. Over the course of these three hours, students were placed into families, torn from their families, and crammed into small spaces all while trying to escape war in their ‘home country’.
Participating in this event granted students a chance to participate in something that would broaden their horizons in the long run. Although the students received only a fraction of what refugees experience over the course of their journey to safety, the simulation put into perspective how difficult the fight is for immigrants and refugees who are seeking a better life.
“It really is a big issue that we should all be paying attention to. Before the simulation, I didn’t think about it as much as I should’ve.” – Mariah Monday, Freshman
“I thought it was really eye opening. I feel like we don’t hear about it as much as we should,” says Mariah Monday, a Wilmington Freshman and Passages participant. “It really is a big issue that we should all be paying attention to. Before the simulation, I didn’t think about it as much as I should’ve.”
After the simulation was completed, students were able to listen to Jim Keady, an advocate for refugees and a 2018 Democratic candidate seeking election to the U.S. House to represent the 4th Congressional District of New Jersey. He has taken trips to Lesbos while trying to help the refugee process. During this time, students were able to reflect on how they felt during the simulation and ask Keady questions in hopes of better understanding what they just experienced.
He made everything more concrete and brought everything together with his personal experiences,” says Ipsi Castillo, a member of the planning committee for Passages. “He definitely made the whole simulation stronger and left us with more information.”
Though this was the first time Wilmington College has put on a game simulation such as this one, the volunteers believe they got the message across. However, in the future they would like to train the actors more and have the scenarios be more realistic.
All-in-all, Wilmington College was able to bring to light the real challenges that many refugees and immigrants face. With activities like this, it becomes easier for students to comprehend global situations and with that information, change the world.