Within the framework of the Migrants Erasmus Program and our effort to make students aware as much as possible of the emigration problem Europe confronts today, with the guidance of our teachers we, the Greek students of Platykampos secondary school, have begun a simulation which I am going to talk about below.
First of all, we were put into groups as Syrian families which each family consisted of 5-6 members. Then we all received folders with different colors so that the families would differ from one another (for example students of family A received green folders, those of family B red ones etc) and each “family” also got a paper in which the members had to write down their new Syrian names and the name of their family. Every family also had its own story which was already written on this paper. For instance family A was named “Tzafar”, it consisted of six members, a father (35 years old), a mother (30 years old), two little kids, a baby and a grandmother (50 years old). This family was not a wealthy one and its members had been working for a long time in a factory that produced tea, a job that they had lost after the death of the grandfather. They only knew how to speak English and Syrian, they had not any relatives in Europe and they were all vegetarians.
When all the students had decided which role they would play, our teachers gave each of us another small paper with the letters S.O.S. on it and explained that if we felt uncomfortable for any reason while playing the game we would be able to show this paper and drop out of the simulation.
After that, the game was won!!! We went to the school yard where we learned that we would experience a bombing. In order to do that, we all covered our eyes with a piece of fabric and then our teachers dispersed us all over the school yard. Without being able to see anything and consequently without knowing where to go, we had to find all the members of our family, just like a Syrian person would do if he/she was bombed while walking on the road with his/her family and was able to see nothing but smoke. When we managed to reunite with the others of our family, we were passed another paper in which we had to write down how we felt during the game, whether it was easy or difficult and anxious and how we thought people in Syria felt when this event happened.
In the next meeting for the program each family had to choose six things to take with them from a list that our teachers gave us in order to start their journey out of the city so as to be safe. Unfortunately, the local police stopped us and took one of the six essential things each family had chosen. Moreover, we received a paper that explained that one of the members of each family had been really injured by the bombing and because of that the rest of us had to carry him/her while having our school bags in our hands (they were quite heavy as we had our books in them too, so it was like we were holding suitcases with some things we were able to find in our homes in the commotion that was caused) and started walking among trees, grass, leaves, puddles and stairs until we finally reached the finish line, our physics lab where we work for the “Migrant” program. According to the simulation we were not only extremely tired and exhausted but also hungry and thirsty and as it had already gotten dark it was essential to find a shelter to stay for the night. Fortunately, we found one (under the desks of our physics class which wasn’t really comfortable). In addition, we were handed out another piece of paper similar to the one of the bombing in which we had to express our feelings and considerations about the difficulties we experienced and loses we had. Finally, we had to decide whether or not we would leave the country and thus the reasons for our decision.
On our last meeting, and having already decided to leave the country, because all the families supported that it would be better and safer on the other side of the borders each group received another paper where every single one of us wrote what he/she expected to see in the new country, what difficulties and problems we might have to confront and why it might be better to stay in our country. After that we had to cross the borders but it was easier said than done. With our eyes closed again we were told to crawl under some chairs that were meant to be the wire netting of the border and generally obstacles we had to confront. When we managed to pass this stage safe and sound we came across with another problem, as the local authorities gave us to fill out a form in a language that we didn’t know. So, we were supposed to think and write what we believed would be substantial (such as our names, our age, our country, the place we want to go to, etc.).
With this simulation, it is easier for all of us to understand to a certain extent how immigrants feel when they are forced to leave their countries and move to a foreign and unknown region. Of course, we do not even have the slightest idea of what it is like to confront such harsh and difficult conditions, but at least we are aware of the situation that prevails.