‘Bittersweet Nostalgia’: Migration, Home and Belonging
Refugee Week is approaching and with it, the opportunity to discuss what…
Refugee Week is approaching and with it, the opportunity to discuss what being a migrant actually means to people. It is also a time to challenge people’s views on who refugees are and what their stories are about.
At the centre of this year’s Refugee Week is the theme of generations. So many of us are the product of migration but it can be hard to cope with being so multicultural in a world that doesn’t always celebrate diversity. Refugee Week aims to highlight the complex and ever-changing relations generations of immigrants have with their past, present and future.
The concept of generations of immigrants itself is a complicated one. As a first generation refugee, it can be difficult to integrate into your new country whilst maintaining your own culture for yourself and your family. For second generation immigrants, it can be complicated to strike a balance between the culture of your parents’ country and that of the country they brought you to. Being third generation comes with its own challenges – connecting with your roots and trying to figure out who you are is not always simple. The experiences of your grandparents is something that you will probably never experience. The common ground is the vision they had for your future. Joudie Kalla is a Palestinian-British chef cook and the granddaughter of Palestinian refugees. She is a third generation immigrant and has found a balance between her British and Palestinian cultures by cooking Palestinian meals and continuing to share the recipes of her mother, aunt and grandmother.
Refugees flee their countries because they want to ensure a better future for their family. Their journey as refugees is synonymous with their vision for their children and grandchildren’s futures. So, whilst the experiences of different generations of immigrants differ greatly from one another, the dream of a better life for their families remains constant and is common to all generations.
If the political circumstances in one’s country become unstable and dangerous, anyone can become a refugee. We all want to protect those who matter the most to us and sometimes, it seems worth making a long and perilous journey because we have hope that our situation can improve in another country. The challenges that refugees are faced with today come as obstacles to this dream of creating a better future.
Our strength as people stems from coming together and embracing difference. It should be considered basic human decency to help each other out, no matter who we are or where we come from. Refugee Week gives us an opportunity to remember this and to think about how we can be more welcoming to those who need it the most.