By Aditi Rajendra Joshi
On the chilly morning of November 2, I stood in front of CEC Emilie-Gourd in anticipation of what was in store for me. A volunteer asked me if I was there for the Escape Game and as I said ‘yes’, I was taken to the eighth floor of the building, where two others explained the rules of ‘Escape game’ to me and my friend. We stood there wondering that some rules seemed strange but we were assured that they would make sense later in the game. We were given different identities and we were no longer students of the Graduate Institute, but two refugees hailing from Eritrea and Uganda respectively who have received a small glimmer of hope – We had an opportunity to escape to a welcoming nation in Europe.
Going in, we knew we were safe and sound in Geneva, playing just a game. But as soon as we entered the room, it literally felt like we were captives. The factor of uncertainty made it all the more grim. The hour that followed was intense. We went through an array of diverse situations through several rooms trying to find a way to somehow escape and have a chance at a better life. At times we felt like giving up, but we kept going and finally made it to Switzerland. The sense of freedom we felt when we got out was incredible.
Logistically, the teachers and students who organised this had outdone themselves. All the puzzles in the game were cleverly conceptualised and arranged. Not a single prop was unrelated to the theme of migration. The team had done a fantastic job creating a bone-chilling aura in the rooms. Although it was a little eerie, there was constant reassurance from a voice that made sure we were on the right track. All the necessary sanitary measures for COVID-19 were followed during the game and the whole process was extremely safe with multiple exits at all points of the game in case it got too stressful to handle.
Reflecting upon my experience of this game, it is unthinkable how people cope in such situations while migrating. My friend and I were overcome with anguish when we thought of the refugees whose survival depended on coming out of these situations in time in real life. If we failed to escape in the given duration in this game, we would have been consoled with a ‘better luck next time’. , However, for the migrants who fail to make it, there are no second chances.
This game was created to make the participants understand, through experience, how earnestly we need the SDG 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels) to be achieved. Absence of peace in conflict areas has drastic repercussions, making the population vulnerable by separating them from their country, their home. This game gave me the opportunity to empathise with migrants by simulating a tiny portion of their experience, for which I am grateful.
Geneva Peace Week 2021 will be held between November 1st and 5th covering four thematic tracks: Creating a Climate for Collaboration, Moving beyond Securitization, Harnessing the Digital Sphere for Peace, and Confronting inequalities and advancing inclusion, peace, and SDG16. Find more information and registration links here.