At the U.S. Holocaust Museum, an immersive video chatting experience allows you to talk in real-time with refugees living in camps.

“Nassir Saiel remembers the sound of shooting, the guns and rockets, the lack of food. Ayad Asaad remembers the church and Shi’ite mosque being destroyed, the kidnapped girls, the Russian jets, and waiting to be beheaded because the Islamic extremists were convinced he was a member of the Yazidis, a religious minority. Zaid Faisal remembers fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) scouring his family’s home for weapons. Mohammad Taha remembers his father, who was assassinated by ISIS fighters in 2012, shot nine times. The four of them, all under the age of 21, remember running, thinking they were going to be killed by the extremists, and hoping that they might be one of the lucky few who find safety and a new home in another country.

On Thursday, I sat inside a gold-painted shipping crate at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and spoke to these four young men. Their images were life-sized, filling the back wall of the crate. They passed a microphone back and forth to share their stories in real-time, and their responses were immediate enough that we might almost have been sitting in the same room together—except they were in an identical crate eight time-zones and 6,000 miles away, in a refugee camp outside Erbil, Iraq.

Continue reading on the Smithsonian Mag.

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