THINK ON IT: Refugee Awareness

Imagine yourself in somebody else's situation

Have you ever heard the phrase, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? It means to imagine yourself in somebody else’s situation.

What they are thinking, what they are feeling and trying to understand why they do what they do. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a very important exercise for compassion and leads to important skills like empathy, introspection and critical thinking. Give it a try with this Refugee Awareness exercise.

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Activity #1: What if you had to evacuate your home and leave everything behind except what you could fit in your backpack?

Imagine that you are fast asleep when the sound of warfare and gunfire surrounds your home. A family member races into your room and says you are all in immediate danger. You must escape immediately. There will be no police or government agencies to come and save you. You have only a few minutes to grab the items you can carry on your back and you know you may never be able to return to your home or your neighborhood again. It may not survive the war anyway. You and your loved ones have a very long and dangerous road ahead of you in order to reach safety.

In the minutes you have to evacuate, what are the 5 things that you will pack in your bag? Share your list with a family member or friend and ask them the same question. What would they take? As Dr. Jane often reminds us, “only if we understand, will we care.”


When you put yourself in the shoes of a refugee, these activities can feel scary. But you can do something to help!
Ways to Help Refugees in the USA

Activity #2: Separating from the people you love and finding each other again.

Imagine that after your escape, and many days of traveling, you reach another country who needs to process your entry as a refugee. You have to separate from your family in order to be processed and you don’t know how long it will take. You don’t all have mobile phones.

In just 5 minutes (time yourself) develop a plan of action for how you and your family will find each other again, after an unknown amount of time.

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