Traveling Home


What does home mean to you? While the Earth Sleeps We Travel discusses the meaning of home to refugees and the longing for home delivered through the poems and artworks, and many first-year students also echo the sense of belonging to home through their writings and artworks. For some, this longing is expressed with the small boat slinging into a colorful unknown land.

For another anonymous student, this longing is questioned in a poem about "who decides where one belongs?" The poem "Home?" calls, "Hear their voices! Hear their stories," advocating for the inclusion of refugee perspectives and pointing out that "Home isn't home to just you."

Andrew Waite embodies the sense of longing for home by drawing a fish. Waite explains that "throughout the entire experience, I was really fixated on the pictures shown in the art exhibit at Mechanical [Hall] and talked about in the podcast and just the way that water separates but also connects the world. I thought that out of all things, a fish was an interesting and ironic vehicle to explore the concept of travel and new beginnings because water is viewed as a temporary place for so many people trying to get to a better life, and in a fish's situation, it is home."

Others like Hannah Coyne reflect on the sense of belonging that many refugees express: the longing for the home in the past and their memories. Written from the perspective of a young refugee who cannot accept this new "home" and vows to make it back to her real home, the poem cries, "I'll make it back even if I have to crawl / If it means I get to see you again."

Not only do refugees experience a change of understanding of "home," but many first-year students also have to adjust to their new home at UD. One student questions, "Home is a fickle concept, isn't it?" In this poem, the student talks about their own experience with leaving home behind after the passing of their grandfather. The poem states:

I'll tie the bag up and
leave the past
in its place.

Home is
soon to be
a memory.

Anna takes the arrival at her new home, the UD campus, as a new opportunity. Through the colorful digital art, she reflects, "Although we are all different, come from varying backgrounds, and have different goals for our lives, we are all the same in that we have an equal opportunity to achieve those goals at this university."

Antonia reflects on the meaning of home based on personal experiences as an immigrant. Antonia's short essay expresses her view: "As a Mexican citizen who came to the U.S. a few years ago, I've thought a lot about the American dream and what it means to me personally."

The mixed media work Reagan Reynolds created is titled "Dream Home." Reynolds explains this work: "Many immigrants don't get to move straight into a house; they instead spend time living in makeshift housing. The life in makeshift housing differs, but some people live there for years. This is a depiction of the makeshift housing next to the imagined dream house."

Reflecting on all the hardships and barriers a refugee has to overcome to call a place a home, students bury their personal experiences in words while hoping for better futures. Justin McGraw wrote a poem hoping to express that "growing up in America, I [had] a childhood I have very fond memories of and not much hardship. I wish for everybody to have what I did. I believe that refugees have an important story to tell, and their stories hold hope of change for future generations. We can learn from their experience how to work towards a world with no refugees. I also believe we need to welcome refugees with open arms to the great life here because we are not the only ones who deserve to experience happiness." The poem "Room Beneath the Canopy" summarizes McGraw's thoughts:

Come tell your story
and plant your seeds
In hopes that one day
we may all [lay] under
the same tree

Beyond the label of "refugee," people have so many things to make them who they are, and so does Sophia. To Sophia, "home" is not just a label but also a place leading to a bright future: "Staying focused on my goals and looking forward to the future."