Sarah Stillman on Simulating the Refugee Experience

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In the interactive exhibit “Forced From Home”, visitors step into the role of refugees. Participants are assigned a home country from which they’re fleeing, and are made to choose five objects to bring on the journey; groups are squeezed onto perilous life rafts and into tent camps that appear so flimsy that the wind might blow them away. The exhibit was created by Doctors Without Borders (M.S.F.). The staff writer Sarah Stillman visited the installation with Africa Stewart, an obstetrician-gynecologist and veteran of M.S.F. missions to South Sudan and other nations. Stillman found that the exhibit quickly overcame her skepticism about the effort to simulate a refugee’s experience.