It’s been a week since I’ve arrived in Alghero, Sardinia. I’ve tried many new things since I’ve come here: new foods, new activities, doing my own grocery shopping, living with house mates, and meeting refugees. I feel like I’ve been stretched left and right out of my comfort zone which is good because that’s what studying abroad is supposed to do to you, right?
Learning about the Bangladeshi and Cameroonian refugees was an eye-opening experience. Hearing their stories was a bit unsettling for me. I was surprised by how I felt about it because my own parents have been through forced migration from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan so I should be familiar with how that experience is like, right? Later that day, I realized that the reason I probably could not relate to these refugees completely is probably because my parents never really shared details or their feelings about their migration. Meeting the refugees has motivated me to try and approach my parents and see if they’d be willing to share their migration experience with me.
One big change I’ve had to adjust to is the amount of walking I have to do on a daily basis. I walk probably five miles a day, if not more. This may be too much information but I have a lot of blisters on my feet and it hurts to walk on them. As I was thinking about what to write for this blog, my mind wandered to my feet, and then it wandered to the refugees and I thought about how much walking they must have to do as they are fleeing persecution. How tired they must get because of carrying their bags or their children. They would be walking from the loading docks to the refugee camps, or to the border. I always have water on me when I go walking but these refugees probably don’t, or they have very little of it. I have bandages… for my blisters, but they probably don’t. If one person’s feet are wounded without protection, and since there are many of them, the infection can multiply and increase. I’m grateful for all the volunteers who stand at the borders and welcome the refugees because they not only hand out food and water, but they give medical supplies too. Those volunteers are the true heroes and leaders who help manage this crisis.
In just this one week, I’ve learned a lot already: I’ve learned a lot about my self and my limits and interests. I’ve learned about what the refugee situation is like and what it’s like for the international community. The refugee/immigration crisis a difficult issue to discuss but I feel honored to be part of a program that tries to unpack this problem and find solutions for it. I look forward to the next 3 weeks here, and learning more about this. Peace