The world is gradually trying to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in one of the most severe global economic crises and therefore, quite naturally, arts and cultural heritage sectors have taken quite a major hit all over the world. Yet, what is truly amazing is that it has not dampened artistic spirits. What has dawned on all of us by now, surely, is that science and technology will get us out of this situation one day, but it is the arts, culture, and humanities that will get us through this tough time right now.
What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.