Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2005

Refugee camp’ gives students an experience

April 28, 2005

By Alicia Henrikson

Most of their fellow students have never been in a refugee camp and probably never will be.

So a group of students at Baker University decided to create one on the campus of the liberal arts college.

"In the middle of campus, you never really think about refugees, and you never think about all the hardships they go through and the reasons why there are refugees," Baker sophomore Megan Brokaw said. "We're just trying to give people a feel for what a basic camp would be like."

The mock refugee camp erected Monday by members of a class titled Global Problems is designed to make the life of a refugee more understandable to people whose understanding of refugee life probably comes from television or movies.

The Global Problems class is taught by Ryan Beasley, an associate professor of political science.

The course will be taught yearly, Beasley said, and students will be expected to find some way to communicate to others a global issue.

"The topics will change, but the idea will remain the same -- to educate people about global issues," Beasley said.

The mock camp stuck out like a sore thumb on the small campus with historical buildings and well-manicured lawns.

Baker's refugee camp includes a registration area, hospital, school, cemetery, food distribution center and latrine. A couple of makeshift tents were erected to represent housing.

Students in the class attempted to provide an accurate portrayal of a refugee camp, including the types and amount of food refugees would be served. Baker sophomore Jaclyn Kettler and Brokaw noted that a true refugee might not have a tent and some of the other luxuries -- such as blankets -- that are in the mock camp.

Few people knew the mock refugee camp would be created on campus. Kettler and Brokaw said it was interesting to see how people reacted to it.

"I think the response has been good," Kettler said. "People have stopped and filled out information and gone through the different parts of the camp. They also asked good questions. So we feel pretty good about it."

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