Students walk path of refugees for a day

Reflecting reality: Menai High School students simulated the "refugee experience" by creating on-site camps designed to replicate the surroundings faced by refugees. Picture: Sam Venn
Reflecting reality: Menai High School students simulated the "refugee experience" by creating on-site camps designed to replicate the surroundings faced by refugees. Picture: Sam Venn

MENAI High School students helped others to experience life in a refugee camp on Monday.

The student-led day was part of the school's strong refugee education program it established in 2013.

To mark Refugee Week 2015, which raises awareness of refugees' journeys, students set up interactive stations for visitors from other Sutherland Shire high schools.

Students were put into fictional family groups then had the chance to walk in the shoes of refugees who seek asylum by venturing through medical tents, food and water sanitation stations and a detention centre.

They listened to real-life stories told by some of their peers who detailed what they went through before they arrived in Australia.

Deputy principal and project organiser Ekbal Sayed-Rich said the Refugee Challenge aimed to take students on a journey.

"[It's for them to] feel some of the emotions refugees feel," she said.

"The attitude towards refugees have left many in our community feeling marginalised and misunderstood.

"There is a great amount of misinformation so the project replaces that with facts.

"Staff and students found the project has enormous benefits — particularly for refugee students who find telling their stories empowering.

"Students come away feeling informed and encouraged to look to the needs of others."

The project links to the human society and its environment curriculum, which aims to develop critical thinking.

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