WUSC sets up mock refugee camp

Contributed image
Contributed image

Wilfrid Laurier University’s chapter of World University Service of Canada (WUSC) held a refugee awareness event in the concourse on Dec. 5.

The event included a “simulated refugee camp,” according to the club’s Facebook event and was inspired by a similar event held at Laurier’s Brantford campus last year.

According to WUSC’s director of events, Jennifer Thompson, the event had a great turnout and went better than planned.

“I was actually really happy with how the tent turned out. I was surprised with how many people actually approached us,” said Thompson.

The initiative was inspired by the UNHCR’s campaign to stand #withrefugees by signing a petition to improve refugee conditions.

The petition included points that encouraged individuals to pledge their support of refugees and various changes such as bringing education to refugee children, ensuring every family has somewhere safe to live and ensuring every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community, according to the campaign website.

Club members made the petition available to students who approached their booth.

The club set up a tent and sleeping bag in the Concourse to signify the struggle that refugees go through on a daily basis.

“Our event is based on the UNCHR’s pledge. Their pledge is stand #withrefugees. So it’s based off of the principle that they did a survey recently seeing all the support of different countries towards refugees and Canada actually had one of the lowest rankings,” said Thompson.

“That’s kind of surprising because you think Canada would be one of the more supporting of Syrian refugees and refugees coming in from different countries. With our event, we want to create more of an awareness of the actual conditions that refugees are living in.”

With recent crises like the Syrian refugee crisis drawing worldwide attention, Thompson pointed out that it is important for Laurier students to become more educated on the matter.

“A lot of people don’t understand what’s happening. With Laurier students, we are the future and we have to become more educated and aware that these events are actually happening and this is the reality of refugee crisis and that refugees aren’t refugees — they’re people,” said Thompson.

“Especially with what’s going on in Syria, a lot of people are only focused mostly on those refugees, but in reality, there’s over 65 million refugees and displaced people in the world.”

WUSC has also played a crucial role in refugee students coming to Laurier.

All Laurier students have a portion of their tuition that goes toward funding refugee students’ education at the university.

The club hopes to host other events in the future, including events where refugee students at Laurier can share their experiences with the community.

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