UWS Exhibit Hopes To Educate, Create Empathy for Refugees Worldwide

The exhibit became even more poignant with the millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- Twice a year over at UWS, students and professors put together an interactive exhibit where people can walk in the shoes of refugees escaping war-torn countries.

At it’s showing Tuesday, it became more poignant for many, with the millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion and bombardment of their country.

The exhibit, called “From Afghanistan to Germany,” is a walk-through where visitors as refugees roll dice at each station to go through a hardship or scenario while learning about what refugees from Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine go through.

Scenarios include navigating landmines just to leave their borders, the small refugee rations of food and resources, and the hurdles they face entering a new country — including the United States — which sometimes send them back the way they came.

“We have had years and years of, and I don’t want to call it ignorance, people didn’t know what refugees are,” said Khalil “Haji” Dokhanchi, Political Science Professor. He hopes students understand that the refugee experience cannot be painted with a broad brush.

“I think the politicians also somehow polluted the waters by just putting everything together,” he said, “so in a sense hopefully one of the services we provide to the community is to actually teach people what is a proper definition of a refugee.”

One newer section is devoted to how the International Red Cross aids refugees from each of these countries. “We are trying to also use this not just to talk about Ukraine, but also talk about for example other places where the Red Cross is active.”

“One of the things that is interesting is how the times have changed and the situation has changed so for example with reference to Ukraine many people have now jumped into support of Ukraine, which is I think wonderful,” he said. “This is what should have happened in the other crises, for example, Afghanistan and Syria as well as Ethiopia nowadays and Yemen.”

Since the crisis began in Ukraine, organizers have seen more people wanting to support those refugees.

According to Prof. Dokhanchi, what helps the most is donating to the International Red Cross, and calling congress asking them to support funding for refugees from all countries to receive higher education.

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