Students turn Dal SUB into mock refugee camp

Society hopes to educate students through real-life experiences of others

A student society that sponsors refugees to come to Dalhousie turned the Student Union Building into a refugee camp today.

The group, which aims to educate the student body about the World University Service of Canada, transformed a lobby usually filled with couches and students enjoying a midday snack or study session into a cardboard-lined camp. The lobby displayed tents, laundry and a campsite for cooking.

“The idea came back in September,” said Marissa Ley, a Dalhousie psychology student who was part of the planning committee for today’s event. “We knew we wanted to do something big, and thought of doing an event where you had to bail a professor out of jail.”

She said the idea quickly turned into an awareness campaign.

“It’s great that we have students walking into the SUB and wondering what’s going on – what this stuff is for.”

The Dal WUSC chapter sponsors two students each year to come from refugee camps to study and complete a degree at Dalhousie. This year, they sponsored two students from Somalia, who spent time in camps in Kenya.

Dal has been sponsoring student refugees for 31 years. A $1.50 levy is included with Dal students’ tuition to help support the refugee program.

Ley says the society worked closely with students who have first-hand experience with camps.

“We wanted this to be as authentic as possible,” she said. “But obviously, it’s a little cheery in the SUB and hard to replicate the atmosphere.”


Take a look at the refugee camp WUSC set up in the Dal SUB:

The Dalhousie chapter of WUSC replicated a refugee camp at the SUB today, to educate students on living conditions around the world.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are 33.9 million displaced persons in the world.
The Canadian Red Cross donated supplies and beds to the Dal WUSC society for the event. Seen here are medical supplies that may be found in African refugee camps.
The number of displaced people has increased from 20 million in 2005.
Simple means of cooking in a camp: one student refugee told organizer Marissa Ley rocks are heated and added to pots of water to keep it warm.
44% of refugees are children, who may live in simple tents like the one seen here.




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