Three decades ago, my parents, each alone, boarded separate planes from separate regions of China to travel to the U.S. for graduate school. My father knew no one in America. My mother had only her older sister awaiting her at the airport. Yet, young and hopeful, they each blindly stepped toward an unknown land in the optimistic search for a better life.
My parents are not refugees. They were not pushed away from their homeland by crisis or war or famine. Though they arrived without a common tongue or much beyond the clothes on their backs, though they were sneered at by cruel strangers for their appearances and laughed at for their accents, they, like many other immigrants, developed a network of friends and relatives to dig them into American soil.
My parents’ struggles pale in comparison with those of refugees from Syria or the DRC uprooted forcibly from their homes, for whom finding a community is much more difficult. Refugees appear frequently in the news these days, often, as painted by Trump rhetoric, as a mass menace threatening American values. But as a consequence it becomes easy to forget about their humanity or the fact that they exist right here in our own backyard. Eight hundred refugees arrive in Connecticut each year hoping to begin their lives anew. In this week’s front, Eve Sneider, MC ’19, explores the organizations in New Haven that play a pivotal role in refugee resettlement and reminds us that the topics of national debates still hit close to home.
Other pieces touch on our local community in other ways. Alice Zhao, DC ’18, paints a portrait of her suburban Arizona hometown. Stephanie Barker, JE ’19, questions whether our attitude towards the renaming of Calhoun College is just another example of trendy activism. And Cati Vlad, DC ’19, explores the way in which British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare makes historical British figures his own in a new exhibit at the YCBA.
Take a breather from your midterms, flip through these (virtual) pages. We hope you’ll feel at home.