Students host refugee simulation for SYS
Assistant Professor of Philosophy Megan Altman’s Second Year Seminar (SYS) class was featured in a news article, Refugee simulation event instills empathy during Cedar Rapids Welcoming Week, by The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
The class worked with the Catherine McAuley Center to host a refugee simulation at St. Jude Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 15, 2022.
“A refugee simulation is an immersive storytelling experience that provides the opportunity for students to learn about the challenges and obstacles immigrants and refugees face in becoming integrated into their new community, as well as how to contribute to the struggle to break down those obstacles,” Altman said.
The course, Philosophy of Home/Homelessness, focused on engaging in three core questions: What is home? What kind of place is it? How, exactly, does home construct and deconstruct identities such as family, neighbor, host, guest, friend, stranger, foreigner, and homeless?
SYS is all about citizenship in practice and is a fundamental component of Cornell’s new Ingenuity curriculum. Leading up to the refugee simulation, the students learned about the ethics of immigration, the nature of migration, and the increasingly exilic dimensions of contemporary human life. Altman says combining their academic studies with this service-learning activity provided profound insights into the fragility of humanity and an increasing awareness of the importance of empathy.
As one student, Maddie Maley expressed in the article, “It was interesting to see how desperate people were becoming. … Something I’m realizing now is how fast humanity can leave you. It’s scary how quickly you can lose that empathy for people.”
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