High school students meet face-to-face with refugees

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) —  Some students at Godwin High School art students got a face-to-face life lesson on refugees Tuesday.

Art teacher Dana Morris started thinking of the idea months ago after seeing the viral photograph of the Syrian boy in the back of an ambulance.

“A few years ago, one of the kids said, ‘you sent us downtown, it seems a little unsafe down there, I saw people who didn’t look like me,'” she recalled. “So, I started to think about how could I make a connection?”

Godwin High School art teacher Dana Morris

So putting her students in contact with people who are not like them is exactly what she decided to do.

Through the Commonwealth Catholic Charities, refugees from various countries such as Iraq, Sudan and Iran met with the art students at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond.


“I can’t live there anymore because of my religion, because of my hopes and my dreams, yeah, and because as a Christian you cannot have an open life a free life in my country,” 19-year-old Iranian refugee Aynaz told the students.

One Godwin student asked Aynaz where she sees herself in ten years.

“In America you can ask this question, but I think in other countries, no you can’t have your dreams. you have to live the way they want,” the 19-year old added.

Iranian refugee Aynaz.
Iranian refugee Aynaz.

Godwin High School Senior Olivia Joyner said the encounter with the refugees was an eye-opener.

“Everything we hear is social media and on news and stuff from our parents, so it’s really different and really beneficial for us to meet these people face to face and hear their stories from their mouths,” Joyner said.

Godwin High School student Olivia Joyner
Godwin High School student Olivia Joyner

As for Aynaz, she plans to one day to become a neurosurgeon.

“I believe that I can save lives like God saved my life,” she said. “I can save the soul of the persons, the body of the persons.”

In a few months, the art students will create an art project that will reflect their conversations with the refugees.

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