SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Union Catholic's Students for Human Dignity began its Refugee Simulation Camp presentations to the junior Religion classes on Wednesday.
The camp, called "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," was created by Jesuit Refugee Services to promote the education of the refugee experience.
There are seven different stations set up throughout the gym at Union Catholic for students to visit, a Border Station, Shelter Station, Food Station, Water Station, Education Station, Mental Health Station, and an Advocacy Station.
The stations provide students with the opportunity to experience the daily struggles and limitations of a refugee resettlement camp. Students are able identify the challenges and struggles faced by refugees in the resettlement camp, examine the toll of being displaced from home by war, genocide, or natural disasters. And they can evaluate how the simulation camp relates to the Catholic Social Teaching principle of Solidarity and to the Union Catholic mission to Social Justice.
Following the simulations on Wednesday and Thursday, students will see a presentation from Deacon Peter Barcellona from the Diocese of Metuchen, who works with refugees and migrants.
The camp was attended on Wednesday by UC Principal Sister Percylee Hart and special guest Reverend Tim Graff, a 1977 graduate of Union Catholic and the Director of the Office of Human Concerns for the Archdiocese of Newark.
Sister Percylee and Rev. Graff visited the stations together.
“I was very impressed,’’ said Rev. Graff. “The students showed a good awareness of the issue and empathy and compassion for people’s situations. They were very well informed and did a great job.’’
Mr. Elito Tanyag, the Co-Moderator along with Mrs. Katie Schmidt for Students for Human Dignity, said the project is all about creating awareness.
“Students for Human Dignity's "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" Refugee Simulation Project hopes to raise UC students' awareness of the plight of millions of refugees and migrants displaced by wars, famine, and poverty in many parts of the world,’’ said Mr. Tanyag. “Our students are given the opportunity to learn about this situation of injustice in a very tangible way, and to realize the need for concrete action. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were themselves refugees when they journeyed to Egypt to escape persecution. In the Gospel, Jesus asks us to look out for the least of our brothers and sisters. Welcoming the stranger is an integral part of our Christian faith.’’
Senior Gabe Abood, the President of UC’s Students For Human Dignity, hopes the Refugee Simulation Camp educates students about the suffering many people endure around the world.
“Being that we are a Catholic school and the Students For Human Dignity is a Catholic initiative, we are trying to implement a way for students to see what it’s like to empathize will people that are suffering around the world, and that includes refugees,’’ said Abood, one of more than 50 students in Students For Human Dignity. “We are striving to recognize people’s human dignity.’’