"The Portal" brings students face-to-face with refugees

HAVERFORD, Pa. -- Students at The Haverford School do not need to go far in order to travel across the world.

That's because a company called Shared Studios has temporarily inflated "The Portal" in the middle of their school. When stepping inside, students can have direct conversations with refugees from camps in countries like Iraq.

These conversations, along with ongoing lessons about migration and refugees at Haverford schools, is helping students answer the question, "How do we build a better future?"

These middle-schoolers came prepared with questions and even some misconceptions. When they walk out, they earn a better understanding of different cultures, lifestyles, and circumstances that otherwise like minded humans are subject to.

Refugees like to play sports, go to school, and spend time with friends just like Haverford students do. This became clear after a discussion with Rami Khalaf, 22, an Iraq native who was forced to flee his hometown to escape ISIS.
Khalaf is set to graduate this year with a degree in computer science. Although, he told the students that fears amid the COVID-19 coronavirus have halted regular activities within the camp.

He has spent six years living as a refugee, but wishes to soon find a place to call home. He hopes that his home country would become peaceful enough to inhabit once again, but also assured students that he would be happy anywhere that gives humans their due rights.

Khalaf also addressed students' questions about the culture and composition of his refugee camp. He wanted to make it clear that many individuals become refugees in order to flee the strongholds of ISIS rather than belonging to ISIS itself.

To learn more about The Portal, visit their website.

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