• Tessera: Piecing back together the lives of Iraqi refugee children

    Education, Industrial Design


    The INEE (Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies) and IRC (International Rescue Committee) both contributed to the inspiration, research and development of this project.

    Because of the refugee crisis in Iraq, millions of children lack the tools to elevate their educational experience. There is also a need to remedy the effects of trauma and regain a sense of identity and belonging. This project focuses on the Iraqi refugee community in Jordan.

    Tessera is a puzzle/game designed to stimulate problem solving skills, encourage dialogue/communication and reestablish a sense of identity and place. The design allows the product itself to be produced using local manufacturing resources and materials.

    Tessera is intended to create a ripple effect. This effect will begin with the Iraqi refugee children and stretch to the immigrant and host families as well as the community at large.

    The next steps of this product would involve implementation in different refugee settings in need of the similar solutions. In new settings, the project would re-address issues of language, material and manufacturing processes.

    Please see my profile for more images of Tessera Christian John

  • I'm really proud of you and all the great work you've done in school.

    I'd love for my autistic son to try this toy out. I know it's not designed with autism in mind but he loves puzzles like this.

  • Christian,

    I've been invited to give feedback to all Parsons students, regarding your thesis projects.

    I'm extremely impressed by your holistic thinking. You've taken the metaphor of a puzzle and applied it to a broken human issue, with the hopeful view that it can be put back together and made whole again.

    The refugee children need to play and exercise their imagination just like the rest of children around the world. The unique aspect of this game is that it also connects kids to their cultural heritage, pushes their thinking and spurs dialogue. The "ripple effect" you mention is brilliant. Wouldn't it be amazing if this could be developed in all refugee regions around the world, respecting the unique cultural conditions for each?

    Finally, I appreciate that this puzzle/game is intended to be made locally.

    Great work, J.

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