Global Refugee Simulation & Conference Information

Simulation Information March 29

Hello, GRSC participants!

We are so excited to welcome you as participants of the world’s largest and most realistic refugee simulation. Below, please find critical information about your participation:

Key Logistical Information

What have I signed up for? GRSC features the world’s largest and most realistic refugee simulation. You, as a participant, have been forced to flee your home due to political and ethnic conflict. At check-in, you will receive a background story and an assigned family with which you must conquer the obstacles of the simulation. With your family, you must traverse a conflict zone, bypass various military groups, and cross an international border to reach a refugee camp in a neighboring country. After registering with UNHCR, you must build a temporary life for yourself by utilizing all of the resources we offer you in the camp.

Where do I check in? All participants check in at George Washington University’s Kogan Plaza, located on H St. between 21st and 22nd, NW. From the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro Station, turn right to walk along 23rd St. Turn left at H St and walk 1.5 blocks. Kogan Plaza is on the same side of the street as a Starbucks. The simulation is held at Bull Run Park in Centreville, VA. Participants must board our buses as opposed to driving themselves; the bus ride is part of the experience.

When do I check in? Buses will take participants out to Bull Run Park in waves from 10:15am until 2:00pm on Saturday, March 29th. You can expect to arrive back to Foggy Bottom approximately 6 hours after your check-in time. Your check-in time is has been emailed to you. If for some reason this check-in time does not work for you (i.e. you have another commitment in the morning or the evening), please let us know immediately so that we can do our best to accommodate this request.

What should I bring? You should wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes that can get dirty or wet. In the case of rain, you may choose to bring rainboots and/or a raincoat. Also bring a backpack to carry throughout the simulation. The items you choose to bring should reflect what you might actually choose if you were forced to flee your home: food, supplies, family photos. However, almost anything in your backpack may be confiscated, stolen, or traded by simulation actors; these items should not be expensive or important to you. Some ideas for supplies include: granola bars, fruit, band-aids, small flashlights, building supplies, extra gloves or socks, or old clothing.

Possessions that you do not wish to lose (cell phone, wallet, medical items, etc.) should be enclosed in a ziplock bag at the bottom of your backpack. Anything that is not in your ziplock bag is subject to be stolen. One exception to this rule is reusable water bottles, which you should also bring in your backpack.

What are my other responsibilities? First, we expect our participants to be an active part of the simulation. At check-in, you and your assigned family will receive a family background story. You should stay in character to the best of your ability and respond to events that occur as that character. As is the nature of a simulation, some aspects do rely on symbolism. Take them as seriously as possible to enhance your experience and others’. In addition, the simulation will deal with some topics of a sensitive nature. Please take them seriously to respect the people who go through similar circumstances in their daily lives.

Second, although realism is important to the simulation, the safety and well-being of all participants and volunteers is our first priority. At times, the simulation may become intense. You may experience simulated gender discrimination, harsh behavior, or intimidating volunteers. The GRSC staff and our professional support team are fully prepared to help if anyone feels overwhelmed during the course of the day. Each one of you will be given an “SOS card” at check-in. If at any time you would like to either take a break or leave the simulation permanently, you may use your SOS card at any time. Hand it to any volunteer or to a “controller,” special volunteers who are equipped to handle emergency situations and communicate with the simulation’s command center. Controllers will be wearing red vests and lanyards and will be standing with a stress counselor, who can talk to if you are feeling uncomfortable. We encourage you to use these resources if you feel the need.

Finally, participants should expect to be physically active throughout the day. You will walk approximately two miles and act in various other activities in the refugee camp. We encourage you to eat a nutritious breakfast and arrive well-rested.

What else do I need to know? We look forward to communicating with you over the next week if you have questions, you need to change your check-in time, or you will no longer be able to attend the simulation. Thank you so much for your interest in sharing this profound and once in a lifetime experience with us.

Digital Conference Information March 30: 10am - 2pm EST

Please go to on March 30th to view the conference live-stream. This is your opportunity to ask high-level experts your questions! To join the conversation, tweet @GRSC2014 #GRSC or tag “American Red Cross Global Refugee Simulation & Conference” in a post with your question.

The Global Refugee Conference will include:

    Special Messages From:

  • Christine Beerli, Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Andrew Harper, UNHCR Representative to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Anne Richard, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
  • Jordi Raich, Head of Operations in Colombia, International Committee of the Red Cross

    Experts in Order of Appearance:

  • Blerta Aliko, Gender and Humanitarian Advisor, Humanitarian Unit, UN Women
  • Christie Edwards, Director of International Humanitarian Law, American Red Cross
  • T. Kumar, International Advocacy Director, Amnesty International USA
  • Manyang Reath Kher, Founder/CEO, Humanity Helping Sudan Project
  • François Stamm, Head of North America Delegation International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International
  • Ninette Kelley, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Lebanon
  • Kathleen Salanik, Director of Restoring Family Links, American Red Cross
  • Kristyn Peck, Associate Director for Children's Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Eskinder Negash, Director of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Lavinia Limon, President & Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
  • Tsehaye Teferra, President, Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)


  • Aisling Swaine, Associate Professor of Practice of International Affairs (Women, Security & Development), The George Washington University
  • Jane Zimmerman, Executive Director, International Policy & External Affairs, American Red Cross

Conference Schedule*

  • 10:00 - 10:05am
    Introduction to the Global Refugee Simulation & Conference (GRSC) of the American Red Cross
  • 10:05 -10:25am
    Defining the Forgotten Issue: Refugees and the Internally Displaced
  • 10:25 -10:50am
    Vice President Christine Beerli, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Keynote Speaker
  • 10:50 - 11:00am
    Experts Discuss VP Beerli’s Remarks
  • 11:00 - 11:02am
    Special Message from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres
  • 11:02 - 11:25am
    Forced Encampment or a Safe Haven: Urban Areas vs. Refugee Camps
  • 11:25 - 11:28am
    Special Message Part 1: Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Anne Richard
  • 11:28 - 11:40am
    On the ground with Andrew Harper, UNHCR Representative to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • 11:40 - 12:02pm
    Gender Roles and Unique Challenges Across Demographics
  • 12:02 - 12:12pm
    Highlights from the Global Refugee Simulation
  • 12:12 - 12:37pm
    Consequences of Humanitarian Action
  • 12:37 - 12:40pm
    Highlights from the Global Refugee Simulation
  • 12:40 - 12:55pm
    Protecting National Security During Refugee Crises
  • 12:55 - 12:59pm
    Special Message Part 2: Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Anne Richards,
  • 12:59 - 1:25pm
    Refugee Protection: Who is Responsible?
  • 1:25 - 1:40pm
    On the Ground with Jordi Raich, Head of Delegation in Colombia, ICRC
  • 1:40 - 1:42pm
    Thank you to Our Partners
  • 1:42 - 1:55pm
    Refugees Crises: The Call for Global Attention
  • 1:55 - 2:00pm
    Staying Engaged After The GRSC
*Due to the dynamic nature of this event, the schedule is subject to change