To mark World Refugee Day, Nasra Abdi has written an awesome piece about what it means to feel at home in NZ. Nasra has recently graduated from Victoria University of Wellington, and is a founding member of the Refugee Youth Council. She's also the sister of Nasiim, one of our amazing employees! The cover art is made by Zainab Mughal (Instagram @zainabmughalarts).
World Refugee Day is once again among us and we reflect on how refugee-background New Zealanders feel about feeling at home in Aotearoa. New Zealand is home to many people from refugee backgrounds. The new Kiwis came from different countries and parts of the world and they all have different experiences and stories.
Coming to a new place you don’t know anything about is very difficult and even traumatising. There is a big culture-shock that happens to people straight away. The language barrier alone becomes a breakable force that scares everyone, not understanding the language can mean that you can’t feel welcomed and understood.
Feeling at home with New Zealand culture can mean many things for different refugee-background individuals. For example, some might feel at home when their children make friends at school, some might feel at home if their neighbour smiles or waves at them ‘hello”, some might feel at home when they run errands with no difficulties. Feeling at home and a sense of belonging in a strange new environment is a very important part of showing hospitality and everyone deserves it whether from a refugee or not. Communities and groups that are there already become a great resource for the new Kiwis they come with a helping hand in many ways. New refugees find their own communities and share useful tips and information about their new home. However not all are lucky in that sense, that is why there needs to be more communities for everyone who comes to New Zealand to their new home. Kiwis and new newly arrived Kiwis need to work together to achieve a welcoming new home environment for everyone everywhere in Aotearoa.