What if your best friend is a refugee?

The importance of asking questions and being open

Do you remember when you were in school with this kid, and the only thing you really noticed to be different was that s/he was a foreigner? No further thoughts, because most often, a few seconds is about the time which young kids spend on irrelevant things.

However, as a little bit older, young adults, these things change. We learn that people “are” different things, some of which they themselves would like to point out clearly, and some of which they would like to be ignored at all cost.

“But it comes with suspicion – is there really no war happening?”

This latter category may include the part of someone’s life which made her/him leave their home, families and country to flee – flee from war, from armed lunatics, from starving and from the massive fear such events create.

Making it to a peaceful country is great, it’s an amazing thing to be surrounded by not-war if you’ve ever been in one before. But it comes with suspicion – is there really no war happening? As you get food on the table, real food, one whole meal, for the first time since months – this is a big thing. It’s a massive thing, and you start eating like there’s no tomorrow.

“For someone who hasn’t experienced this, it’s as though this would by default mean that these refugees should be happy, overwhelmingly glad to be in their host country.”

Because the memory is fresh and you know how it’s like to starve, to not have anything, to be happy if you get a glass of water from somewhere.

And then, as you’re in this new, peaceful country, suddenly the normal feeling of existence isn’t fear. The system isn’t falling apart, the people aren’t armed, nobody’s falling dead or injured on the street, buildings aren’t scattered by bombs – and a million other things.

For someone who hasn’t experienced this, it’s as though this would by default mean that these refugees should be happy, overwhelmingly glad to be in their host country. That’s true, and most probably are – but they have been in such a distressed mode for so long, that these intense negative emotions are stuck there.

Now, the whole point here is that we wrote a piece about this a while back – a very important editor’s letter which we would encourage you to read once again. It’s only a few details written down by one person and parts of her experience, but it might be worth reading, as we’re currently facing a substantial change in terms of human movement around the world.

Read the letter here and start having a chat with people.

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