What was it like to be a national of this country?
When I was the passport holder during the simulation, I got assigned as an Iranian citizen, my first reaction was expecting to get detained from each country I would try to visit due to the political past of Iran as they are not exactly a reputable country. As I was going through the simulation/activity, even though I was expecting to get detained, getting detained from the majority of the countries I visited still wasn’t that great of a feeling as you get rejected from places you want to go.
How did the exercise make you feel as a passport holder, then as border control officer?
As a passport holder, I think that accessing countries based on your passport alone is quite difficult, and not just for my country of nationality but for others as well. I know this because as a border control officer, I had to check the visa qualifications for the other citizens from different countries, and quite a few would get detained from the country I was ‘stationed’ at. Being a border control officer definitely made me feel like I had more power over the people who were trying to enter the country as I had the power to detain them or let them in.
What did you take away from this exercise?
From this simulation activity, I think that there are many takeaways, such as the difficulty of being a national citizen of a certain country and how much that can open opportunities or close them for you. That people who are born into a nationality with a passport that can offer them many entrances for different countries can have an easier life when traveling, but for people who hold a passport that deny them of entry to certain countries will have a more difficult time getting let into these countries.
Has this changed your idea of what it means to be ‘free’ at all?
Yes, it definitely has. After this simulation, I think that my perspective on being ‘free’ has changed and widened. I have realized how fortunate I am to hold 3 passports in which all have great access to the majority of the countries worldwide. Due to the fact that I do not face these difficulties of entering countries, I have never put much thought into how fortunate I am. Never considering what it was like for Iranian passport holders, Syrian passport holders, or Afghan passport holders, and many others.
Do you feel gratitude for your passport?
I definitely feel much more gratitude and appreciation for my passports. As I am a holder of the Canadian, Hong Kong, and Taiwan passports, I now feel how lucky I am to have these passports and be given the access and opportunity to access most countries that I want to visit.