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Syrian Refugee Simulation

 The Syrian Refugee Simulation is a project in humanities that focused on finding a way to make people more aware about the life of refugees from Syria, and the difficult choices they are forced to make under the harsh conditions they live in. We did this by simulating the acceptance process for different countries or even the process of being let through to other countries in groups of 4. 

Why We Decided to Make a Simulation

     At first we had to decide what the best way to help refugees was. We could either try to raise money and work with a non-profit pro-refugee organization or we could have put 
on a play to show people that a refugees deserves as much opportunities as anyone else and they shouldn't be thought less of  just because of stereotypes. At one point we were having Socratic seminars and deciding the pros and cons of the different options and once we had everyone's input, we were invited to meet during lunch to finalize an idea. About ten people came and I was one of them. After discussing what we wanted people to get out of our exhibition and work we decided a simulation would both make them 
be able to experience how hard it can get being a refugee and learn the facts about refugee laws in countries accepting refugees.  At first our inspiration came from live action role playing games and eventually we began to think of it more as a choose your own adventure type game. Together we 
pitched this to our team by having them do a mini-simulation in which their land is taken over by Isis and they must choose to either try to fight it or join Isis, a choice that many Syrians had to face and choosing to try to escape results in their possible death and maybe even the death of their family.

   Syrian Refugee Character Sheet and Event Sequence

Character Sheet: Ahmad Majid

When beginning we started by looking at the actual journey of refugees with a partner. We created a map and by looking at all of the journeys we found the "Average" journey and decisions a refugee might make in their journey. The refugee who's journey I mapped and made a character sheet for was Ahmad Majid. A refugee from Syria who like many others 
tried to make his way into Europe and become a refugee and then succeeded. Working with my partner I read an article on him filled out the basic information and then mapped his journey step by step as a refugee. The entire class did this and we also physically mapped each refugees journey on a map and together we saw a general flow of where refugees were going and the options they had at different places. Afterwards we all had a much better idea of how limited a refugees options can get and how hard it is to get out of being stateless and find a new country to accept you.

Handout Example

This handout is a good example of handouts that we got every single day. In this particular  one we got to write what we thought about different types of exhibitions for the refugee project and I decided what exactly I wanted people to get out of going through our exhibition. Afterwards I worked with other group members to get the things that I wanted to incorporate into the project into the simulation.                                                                                                                                                                   
Models We Studied
It was a bright and sunny day outside when we walked into the classroom with open walls. We knew this day would come and were hoping that we 
would be able to follow our teacher through a nice story in which we would choose different options which as a refugee would take us to different
possible points in our mental journey. Instead we went on a mental journey that was also physical. We hiked about 1-2 miles through the canyon            behind the school and eventually made it back to the school. On our journey we were informed about the similar journey refugees take with a major 
difference being the distance because they have to hike dozens of times farther than we do and the experiences we read about such as people       becoming injured or having to be carried actually happens in those situations.

Station Research Document
    For this document I researched what it was like as a refugee in Austria, and Austria's general history with refugee primarily in WWII. I also researched accurate statistics for how many refugees get in or are allowed to pass through and created a card system with a standard 52 card deck that reflected these statistics. I remember having to search through multiple sources until I found an article with a good source that had specific information backed by other articles. When researching I used the news filter on google that gave me a lot of relevant articles to choose from.

Group Station Documents

    In my groups station design document I wrote instructions for what my group members to do in their roles for every scenario possible and they mapped it out and made a sketch of what it would look like. I also planned out what the costumes would look like. I am proud of how well all of the character descriptions turned out in the short amount of time we worked on them. Once we began doing play tests we changed all of our roles to have more generalized and simpler roles.

    For the Vision Document I contributed the amount of people we would be letting in and the type of feeling it would create for people. In general we would be letting in about 4 percent which is almost no one so we seemed very unwelcoming towards refugees.

First Play Test
    During our first play test my group got more people than expected and we did not let anyone into our country. This 
reflected the low percentage of people being let into our country. For the second play test we had props and application forms. Again the chances were very low for getting in but most managed to make it through and go to Germany. After this we made a system in which more than one person could fill out the form and still have a good experience. We also worked on adding props to make it seem more like an admissions booth.


Second Play Test

Another play test that we experienced was having a group from our class run us through their play test to learn from their good ideas and to be able to learn from their mistakes or things we didn't like.What I learned was that I did not like going for long walks and that it goes too slowly if we have every small group of people going through to have a mini simulation of walking to another country and instead just have them go to the appropriate station. Afterwards I also decided to have the simulation be concentrated and centralized around a main booth where everything happened. 

Actual Simulation

During the actual simulation we had the safety vests that translators and police wear on the streets on as well as an Austrian flag a refined application form that made the application papers tenacious to fill out and still had low odds for getting in. We also created a good Austrian ambiance by having the Austrian national anthem playing on speakers and by having an Austrian flag. We also saluted to the anthem and would even sing along showing our devotion to Austria. 

At the end of this project we had to write an essay about refugees and choose from a series of topics. I chose to write about the Syrian civil war which caused all of the displacement of the refugees and which country supported which part in the Civil war. The main groups being the rebels, Assad's Regime and Isis. You can read my full essay and see for yourself.