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To Be Human Is to Be Homesick
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Carolina first left the Gaza Strip to study journalism in Toronto. At age 20, she arrived newly pregnant and, as a result, lost her scholarship—though not her valuable student visa. Without educational opportunity, she eventually went back home.

Carolina returned to Canada this March. This time, with a toddler in tow and another on the way, her travels included hungry hours on a hot bus and repeated attempts to cross the border into Egypt, where she and her child finally boarded a 12-hour flight to North America.

Carolina was fleeing hopelessness for the sliver of light that is this New World.

“In Gaza, there is no work. There is no dignity. Any day, you can die.” She pauses. “But it is difficult here. Very difficult.” Her immigration status hangs in the balance. She cannot know when—or if—her husband will join her.

Like the stories of the millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Nigeria, Carolina’s story is the Christmas story, although not in the ways we usually think. The immutable “I AM that I AM” entered a womb and took up a body. But these were not his only vulnerable acts. Jesus of Nazareth also claimed an earthly home, which, as Carolina and many others know, is less a promise of permanence and more a risk of grief. When mobility, death, divorce, ecological crisis, and war reign, there is nothing certain in life, not least a home.

“To have a home is to become vulnerable,” writes James Wood in an essay for The London Review of Books. “Not just to the attacks of others, but to our own adventures in alienation.” Wood recalls that the battle prowess of the Scythians was often attributed to the ...

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To Be Human Is to Be Homesick
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December 2015

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