In a world where stationary and stable lives are celebrated; while transitory, placeless and unstable lives are considered strange – there is no place for the refugee or asylum seeker to go.
It’s true that in most cases, we expect people to live in one place. To have a steady career and a large network of family and friends. To belong somewhere and act according to the social norms. In fact, we expect these traits at such an innate level, that any deviations from this lifestyle are immediately recognisable as different. The homeless woman, for instance, or the unemployed man – both are a shock to that expectation of a ‘normal’ life. The trouble is, a world view such as this serves only to exclude others. And the same is true for the asylum seeker, or the refugee.
By fleeing persecution; leaving homes and families behind; coming to a foreign place where both language and culture are significantly different; refugees and asylum seekers do not fit the ‘normal’ life. By simply being themselves in their circumstances, they are made to feel different.
At STAR, we want to think about these things differently. Rather than stigmatising difference, we want to celebrate the potential of such an eclectic and complex life, and to support these individuals in the ways they require. Focusing on these elements of possibility and positivity could go a long way towards changing the refugee and asylum seeker experience for the better.
by Emilia Ramirez-Vidal