19 August 2008

Foreigners: Why does that sound like a bad thing?

My Iranian refugee friends are settling in to their new life in West Auckland, though challenges face them everyday. We had 28 days of rain in July. They have no car. Getting the kids to school or the mom to doctor’s appointments, let alone the grocery shopping and other errands we all run each week, has been a wet and dreary process.

Imagine too, going to a supermarket or into a pharmacy and asking for something you need. You don’t know what it is called here. Your vocabulary is limited and your accent thick. Sometimes the people behind the counters treat you as thick though you are not at all, just foreign.

Imagine being foreign. I have been foreign for much of the last 23 years, but mine was by choice for a cause I think worth the discomfort and fatigue of always being alien to my surrounding culture.

My Iranian friends did not choose this. They were just born of the wrong minority group in a region with security issues and power struggles. They are Kurdish and therefore, expendable.

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