nicolejb
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Project Syria: Immersing into a Refugee’s Plight

I recently wrote about the increase number of refugees around the world and how it has hit an all-time high since WWII. This increase in population of refugees is caused by several political and social problems. But the biggest factor: war.
Last month I went to my favorite museum in New York City, the Museum of the Moving Image. It’s everything I love about museums because it’s both educational and also immersive. The museum hosts several immersive journalism projects that visitors can check out using through television projects, interactive games, and Oculus VR goggles.
One virtual reality project I tested out was called Project: Syria. Having no clue what I was about to learn about I put on my headphones and goggles.
I was immersed into a world that I’ve never been to before. A world of extreme poverty and living in tents. I followed a young girl around a village. I followed her into her overcrowded school house. I followed her into her home while her mother squatted in the corner of their tent making dinner for a large family of six. I watched her and her classmates play soccer with an old ball in the dirt behind their village.
And because it was virtual reality it felt just like I was there with her. She talked about her old home and how she escaped from destruction. I learn how she escaped from Syria with her family when she was very young.
23 million people have been displaced in its civil war and no group has been as severely affected as children. I took off my goggles and headphones and left the project extremely connected and effected by the journalism project. I excused myself to the ladies room and cried my eyes out.
When faced with war in the world we often forget about how many lives it effects, and being truly in their shoes really gave me that perspective.

Here’s an interview with the creator:

The creator of the piece explains why it is so important to her: “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to be building an immersive journalism piece about Syrian Children and refugees. This is one of the most pressing issues of our time. We make these pieces because we can put you on scene, make you feel like your a witness to an actual event.”
To be a witness to the destruction of war through the eyes of a child was one of the most influencing pieces of journalism I have experiences. Having that window into their lives not only helped me feel empathy for the Syrian refugees, but also left me supremely affected.
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