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New virtual reality exhibit allows guests to experience migrant’s journey across the border

By Abbie Petersen

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — There’s a new virtual reality experience at Kaneko near the old market.

It’s called “Carne Y Arena” and the artists who brought it to Omaha hope people take away more empathy about the migrant experience.

The exhibit only takes about 12-15 minutes to complete, but Kaneko hopes it has a long-lasting impact on how you view the migrant experience.

As you near the entrance to the exhibit at Kaneko, your journey begins right away.

As you see a piece of the U.S. Mexico border fence from Arizona.

“This experience is very different than a traditional, or what we sort of remember as a traditional VR experience,” said community engagement & public program manager Amanda Kephart.

Video of the experience shows after you take your shoes off, you put on a backpack and a VR headset and enter a room of gravel.

“You experience it as an individual in a group of people,” Kephart said.

Community partners, Completely Kids say this exhibit helped them better understand the kids they work with and how to meet their needs.

“100% of the families that we serve our Latino population. So we just think it’s important to really know what our families are going through and to be able to shine a light on the journey that their families have gone through to get here,” said clinical director Lulu Rangel.

Elevate Omaha, another community partner created by youth for youth, says they were invited to make sure young people were involved in this.

“With this exhibition, are we doing community engagement with young and making sure they’re involved in the process, are we doing things they want to see if they bring their families to the exhibition and making it accessible for young people,” said advocacy organizer, Marissa Morales.

Kaneko hopes those young people will feel the impact as you’re surrounded by VR actors who have made that journey themselves.

“Or we say, you know what, we’ll put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And this is different because you really are experiencing that, you’re experiencing the sound, the feels,” Kephart said.

The exhibit opened at Kaneko in July and will be here off 11th and Jones until September 10th.

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