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Students 'Walk a Mile' through Refugee Experience

This week, freshman world history classes participated in Jesuit's fourth annual "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" simulation. This program was created by Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) to help educate students on some of the realities facing the 70+ million displaced people around the world.

"While it is impossible to fully comprehend what it is like to be forced from your home and live as a refugee, this event provides students with an opportunity to pause and experience, if only vicariously and for a few moments, the frustrations, disappointments and hopes that refugees around the world face," states JRS.

As they entered the simulation, each freshman received an identity card with the name, country of origin and background of a typical refugee. Throughout the event, they assumed the role of that person, moving between activities that demonstrate various aspects of a refugee's daily life. Upperclassmen guided the freshman through interactive stations where students learned about access to basic resources in a camp environment, including shelter, medical care, food, and water.

At the end of the experience, students were given the opportunity to write a postcard with a message of hope, which JRS will distribute to refugee camps around the world. The final stage of the simulation also included a powerful exhibit created by Jesuit's Art II class. In partnership with The Memory Project, JHS student-artists created original portraits of young refugee children in a Malaysian school. Each portrait incorporates the child's favorite colors and unique personality.

After the exhibit, the portraits will be sent to Malaysia for each child to keep along with a photo of their JHS student-artist. These portraits, and the care and creativity that went into them, send a message of kindness, respect, and encouragement from a distant place.