The AOZ (Fachorganisation in Migrations – und Intergratunsbereich) is a refugee transit center that opened in 1991 and can house up to 215 people. As of now the number of refugees that are housed is low (around 75 as of July 6th). Men, women, children, and families come here to gain better opportunities. The majority of refugees come from Afghanistan (2,041 out of 8,315) and other countries (2,023 out of 8,315). The facility offers schooling for children and adults to learn German, along with a clinic, a computer room, an on-site clothing store and many different outdoor and indoor activities for all ages. The average time of stay for refugees at AOZ is two months, but there is no set date for a person to leave. Residents have a three bedroom apartment and a maximum of 12 people can occupy a room.
While touring the facility one could see that the workers running the institution care about all the people that settle in for their short duration. They provide for them more than most refugee asylums. The residents were interacting with one another, playing games, listening to music, working, and children were playing with one another. The workers were very friendly and energetic to educate us and our faculty members. This was eye-opening for myself and other U.S. students. I don’t believe all of us knew the extent of immigration that the Swiss deal with or even how refugees were handled. What I did question is how could the U.S. Integrate such a facility. Possibly not only for refugees but also our homeless that fill the streets.
I thought the Refugee center looked amazing, and it was interesting to hear the reaction from the American and Swiss students. It was neat to see the different amenities of the place from an outdoor are for children to play, the shop to purchase clothing, and the room for women to have time away from the men. Personally, I thought it was amazing to see how much they provide the families seeking shelter during troubled times in their country.
I loved the refugee camp we visited. I loved that they placed these people in a place and give them what they need to integrate in society. That treat them like people and with compassion and dignity. The most amazing thing I saw the whole trip was the love for people that I saw from the Swiss citizens even if Switzerland was not their original home. They gave these people a second chance. The Swiss students thought that it was not good enough but I felt as if this is a good start for them to have a new start.