Most students at Concordia have never had to face the challenges of the process of immigrating to the United States. The Diversity Equity Inclusion Commission (DEIC) is hoping to change that.
On February 12, DEIC is hosting an Immigration Simulation with hopes of creating a way for Concordia students to better understand the immigration process of people coming to the United States from other countries by allowing them to experience parts of the process themselves. The simulation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., and dinner will be served.
Students that sign up to participate in the Immigration Simulation will each receive a background story of a character that they will have to play, each coming from a different country to the United States for unique reasons. These stories range from people trying to get student visas to people fleeing crisis situations in their home country. Based on the story they receive, each person will have to navigate the process of immigrating to the U.S. This will include doing paperwork, going to the U.S. embassy and obtaining a visa.
After the simulation, participants will debrief and discuss the experience they had, and how the details of their story impacted their ability to make it into the United States.
Prashansha Maharjan, the social justice commissioner for DEIC, was inspired to create the Immigration Simulation after she realized that her American friends had no idea how challenging the process of coming to the U.S. can be. Maharjan is an international student from Nepal, and she used her own experiences to help shape the simulation. As far as Maharjan knows, the simulation that DEIC is creating is the first of its kind.
“We’re doing this from scratch. I’m not following any model on the internet or something. We are creating it ourselves,” she said.
Maharjan thinks that the most challenging aspect of the simulation for participants will be the interview during the part of the simulation meant to imitate the U.S. embassy. The interviewers are going to be faculty and staff that have volunteered to help with the simulation, and like the participants, they will all be playing characters with different personalities and moods.
“There’s no formula to it,” said Maharjan. “It’s not like a job interview where you know the type of questions you have to answer. It really is just dependent on the mood of the interviewer.”
A team of other students involved in DEIC is helping Maharjan plan the simulation. They have spent time researching the countries that immigrants emigrate from, as well as the reasons they come. Mattie Bogart, a freshman majoring in global studies and French, says that research has been challenging because the government does not keep a detailed public record of where immigrants are coming from and the types of visas they are applying for.
Despite the challenges, Bogart thinks the simulation will be worth it, especially after hearing that multiple professors on campus are encouraging, and even requiring, their classes to go.
“I think it’s cool that faculty is backing us up on this,” said Bogart.
Elizabeth Routzahn is one student that has been encouraged to attend the simulation for a class. She is taking The Ethics of Aid and Development, a class taught by David Creech, about global poverty issues and different aid organizations that help people facing these issues. Each month the class has to write an analysis of an event that helps them become responsibly engaged in the world, and how that event is related to the content of the course. Creech has identified this event as one that will be good to write about, and Routzahn agrees.
“It’s something I’ll never have to deal with in life,” said Routzahn. “For two hours I’ll be able to put myself in the shoes of someone trying to come to the U.S.”