Caught between two worlds, the children of refugees seek to reconcile the old and the new. They live in a dichotomy where deep-rooted culture clashes with progressive dynamism. At home are the vestiges of a life left behind; in the streets, novel experiences.
I recently met Ify, the daughter of Nigerian refugees (her art is pictured above). Much of her story mirrored mine. We joked about the multiple refrigerators in our parents’ homes, and lamented the unspoken conversations – dialogues that could have helped us understand the interplay between our past and present. Suddenly, much of my own story made sense.
Many of my conflicts and struggles were manifestations of feeling like an outsider, because I didn’t belong. Neither did Ify. But we both found solace in art and creation. As sisters in this experience, our expression helps us define ourselves so that we may become part of something.
Ariel Sabar, author of My Father’s Paradise, recounts similar moments in his life. His father left Iraq in the aftermath of the Farhud (just as my family did). His book is a effort to document and understand, to create and connect.