We interviewed 8 refugees from completely different corners of the globe and requested: What’s one treasured belonging you introduced alongside in your journey to remind you of house? The solutions ranged from a set of incense stones made by a Yemeni grandmother (and now emitting their particular aroma in Ecuador) to Ukrainian sheet music.
We additionally requested our viewers: Inform us about an object out of your private or household historical past that has particular which means as a memento of the previous in a special nation or a mirrored image of your identification.
Due to all who shared their tales. Here is a sampling of responses, edited for size and readability.
A crystal decanter with a chip jogs my memory of a daring 1911 journey
My treasured object is that this more-than-a-century-old decanter.
In 1911, when my then 14-year-old grandfather Jan Roušar (modified to John Roushar on Ellis Island) and his household left Oldriš in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) to return to the US, they introduced alongside this household heirloom. It’s heavy minimize crystal and should have had necessary which means to hold that far.
I by no means noticed this decanter in my childhood — it had a chip within the lip and was thought of unusable. When my mother and Aunt Dorothy helped empty my grandparents’ home within the Nineteen Seventies, it moved to my mother’s home and acquired tucked at the back of a china cupboard.
I got here throughout it a number of years in the past whereas serving to my mother and father within the cleanup after a hearth. My mother requested me if I needed it, “though it is damaged.” I discovered it lovely and determined that if and when my husband and I set sail, it will include us on the seas, simply because it had when my expensive late grandfather was a boy making his Atlantic crossing.
It has traveled since 2016 with my husband and me on a 40-foot catamaran referred to as “Grateful,” which has journeyed to the waters of 5 continents.
I feel Grandpa would approve. He is one in all my angels above. I consider the bravery it took for his mother and father to see the writing on the wall and resolve to depart behind their thriving mill enterprise as a result of they might see WWI coming and had no want for his or her sons to be pressed into the Kaiser’s military.
By comparability, crossing seas is pleasure for my husband Jamie and me. At any time when I take a look at the decanter I’m reminded that willingness to tackle daring challenges runs within the household.
— Monica Fox Elenbaas
A Norwegian grandmother’s cabbage dish was a method to say ‘I like you’
In 1906 my grandmother, Oline Steffensen, traveled from Norway to the US. She was 25 years outdated. She had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and needed to go to Utah so she may go to the temple there and “be sealed,” because the Mormons say, to her mom, who had died when she was a little or no lady. The need to connect with her relations for eternity gave her the braveness to make the journey.
In Salt Lake Metropolis she married Rudolph Stockseth, a fellow Norwegian, who was a printer. That they had 9 youngsters. My father was the oldest. They by no means had sufficient cash, however they’d quite a lot of love of their household. I bear in mind properly the camaraderie of my aunts and uncles at household gatherings.
What Oline introduced from Norway was her capability to like … and to knit … and to cook dinner.
I bear in mind consuming Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in her small brick house and savoring the aroma and tangy style of crimson cabbage cooked with caraway seeds and a touch of vinegar, referred to as “surkål .” It was the jewel of the meal to me.
My grandmother’s brusque, accented English made me assume she was grumpy. I now understand that the meals she made – and the crimson caps she knit for us – have been her manner of claiming, “I like you.”
— Jean Marshall
I nonetheless have the footwear I wore when my household fled the Nazis
I’m 84 years outdated, thought of to be a survivor of the Holocaust. However I consider myself as a “refugee” fortunate to have escaped the Holocaust.
I used to be not fairly 2 years outdated when my household (mother, dad and older sister) boarded what I used to be later advised was to be the final prepare out of Paris earlier than the French authorities was to give up. I am advised it was the primary week of June 1938, however do not know the precise date.
We have been heading towards Bordeaux after which on to Spain, armed with all of the requisite journey permits, American visas and a small suitcase filled with some clothes in addition to my mom’s journey stitching package, contained in a repurposed crimson metallic tobacco tin.
It was a harrowing journey. The prepare, filled with refugees, was bombed – making battle on civilians was a standard Nazi tactic. We have been fortunate sufficient to outlive and proceeded to stroll to Bordeaux — which had been declared a closed metropolis due to its strategic location, in addition to the French authorities sequestered in Bordeaux had not but determined how greatest to give up.
We should have walked for miles. I wore my patent leather-based footwear, my mother and father carried that small suitcase. Finally we met by likelihood the American consulate officer in a small metropolis exterior Bordeaux. My father and the officer have been capable of hire a truck to drive us to the Mediterranean coast. Finally we have been capable of cross into Spain and Portugal, the place we boarded a Greek freighter that set sail for New York. We arrived on August 11, 1940.
My patent leather-based footwear, not shiny and glowing, remained on my toes till I outgrew them. I nonetheless have them, together with my mom’s makeshift stitching package. I take advantage of this stuff them as props for my volunteer work on the Nassau County Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Middle, the place I inform guests the explanations my household have been compelled to hunt refuge in addition to discussing the necessity for protected havens 82 years later.
I treasure my footwear and mom’s stitching package as a result of it underlines the resiliency, willpower and braveness that refugees reveal of their quest for safety — and as a reminder as properly that for thus many, the sheer presence of luck can chart your future.
— Mireille Taub
Why I’ll by no means depart my flute behind
My most treasured object is my flute!
I began taking part in within the faculty band once I was within the seventh grade, a bit over 50 years in the past, and as soon as I started taking part in, there was by no means any query about what I might do for a profession. Taking part in music meets my religious wants like nothing else – and is mentally difficult, which I like.
I majored in music in school. My first job was as a music trainer. When the residence constructing the place I used to be residing caught hearth in the course of the night time, I ran exterior. A fireman requested me to maneuver my automotive so the fireplace truck may get nearer to the constructing. He went again into my residence with me so I may get my automotive keys: “Simply your automotive keys, ma’am. Nothing else!”
After we left, I had my keys … and my flute. I might have fought him if he had advised me to depart it behind!
If I ever must “bug out” for any purpose, you may imagine my flute will probably be the very first thing I seize to take alongside!
— Penny Rogers