The Unsettled

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In Lebanon, they were fingerprinted and photographed, given a full medical checkup, tested for infectious diseases and sent to a class on American culture. Their files were delivered to Homeland Security officials in the U. In Syria, they knew almost nothing of America. Their knowledge was limited: Ten months later, they boarded a plane in Lebanon, carrying eight suitcases stuffed with clothes. They left everything else behind. After 17 hours of flights, the Batmans landed at Indianapolis International Airport in a chilling November rain.

A volunteer worker met them at the airport with winter coats for the kids, who were dressed for the warmth of Lebanon. As they pulled on coats and collected their bags, Marwan slipped through a door and stepped outside. He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one, shivering in the cold as their new life began. Indiana would continue to accept refugees, he said — just not Syrians. Critics questioned whether a governor has the power to block refugees from a state in the first place. The Refugee Act of gives no specific authority to states, and the Obama administration has called refugee resettlement a federal issue.

S quarely in the center of the hostility, the Batmans tried to shield themselves. Marwan continued to work six days a week. Lona went to English class every Saturday and studied on her own twice a day. Rakan, the seventh-grader, has kept to himself since the announcement. His year-old hips were sore, he said. The day before, he felt like running, so he did, dashing off in his jeans and not stopping for four hours. The school gave them identical schedules, and the two of them spend most of their school days in a silence that breaks only when a teacher asks Rakan to translate for Faris or a classmate shows off the Arabic words Rakan taught them.

As they walked with their heads down, a short boy rushed in front of Rakan and turned to face him. Rakan smiled wide and raised his hand for a high-five. He understands about half of what they say and falls behind his classmates almost immediately. One teacher said his job is just to get Rakan talking, and any material he learns is a bonus.

So Rakan coasted through his school day, seven hours of head nods and smiles.

Forced to flee Syria and start over, a family adjusts to a state that suddenly doesn't want them

He finished less than half of a worksheet asking him to translate English sentences into mathematical expressions. In a lesson on the history of Islam, a teacher flashed a picture of Abraham on the screen, and Rakan laughed. A language arts teacher pulled Rakan and Faris into the hallway to practice reading aloud.

Do you remember why? It has sat empty for months. The walls were sparse, the furniture donated. Marwan pulled the drawstrings on a bulging plastic bag and dumped half of it onto the couch. Three years of paperwork came spilling out. Unopened envelopes from official-looking addresses. Forms — some filled out, others left blank. Almost everything in English. He flipped it over. All six of the Batmans needed vaccinations, and time was running out to get them. Their final green-card interview was less than three weeks away.

Everything would unravel in a moment. He put the prescription on the table and turned back to the pile. Eventually, he found Dr. Very nice, but not the right doctor. Marwan shuffled the prescription back into the pile and kept looking. M arwan, Lona and Rama crowded around a small desk at Exodus Refugee Immigration, shifting in their cold wooden chairs. Behind the desk, Megan Hochbein flicked on her computer and pulled out a thick file. Lona pulled out a notebook. Marwan fiddled with a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. Rama sent one last text.

The other three children were left at home — she was the only one old enough to fill out her own application.

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She ran through a list of questions, reading each one in English before an interpreter relayed them in Arabic. Marwan only answered yes three times. His family is on food stamps. Yes, he served in the military, he said. Yes, he received military training. Two years of required service in the Syrian air force, well before the war. While the government processed their applications, they would be called in for fingerprinting, additional interviews and, possibly, more paperwork.

T hat day, as the Batmans signed more papers and answered more questions, the national debate over the fate of Syrian refugees showed no signs of settling. Every Republican presidential candidate opposed accepting Muslim Syrians into the United States — all but two were against accepting Syrians entirely. Another family of Syrians was scheduled to fly into Indianapolis on Monday. No exceptions, the governor said.

The Unsettled

Tensions swirled around them, and the Batmans tried not to notice. They preferred to stay on the path. They were building an American life bit-by-bit. Marwan turned the key, and the CD player started up automatically. Above them, an almost-full moon floated in an empty sky. Marwan lit another cigarette and pointed the car toward home. Before they left the parking lot, he was singing again. Forced to flee Syria and start over, a family adjusts to a state that suddenly doesn't want them.

Story by Alden Woods aldwoods indiana. He shook his head and shuffled away. Marwan, the father, was the first to speak.


But as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. After American leaders turned their backs on refugees like them, that future felt uncertain. Marwan smokes a cigarette after his shift on Oct. He's checking his phone - one of the few ways he has of staying in touch with the news from back home.

Marwan prepares meat to be sold at the Middle Eastern store and restaurant where he works. There are have been reports all over the world of migrants who came to places like the U. More than million people live in a different country from the one in which they were born, far more than at any other time in history. We come up with different words for the same experience, based on whether these people are undesirable brown, poor, Muslim or desirable white, upper-middle class, European. The undesirables are migrants or refugees, the desirables are expats or cosmopolitans. The difference is in the level of choice, whether the person is fleeing war or abject poverty, or simply boredom and Brooklyn.

Western migrants are often portrayed as being desirable because they come with money, but they come with other baggage, too. If you place a large population of transient workers with a lot of disposable income in an urban area, that area will inevitably change. Businesses with English-speaking workers that cater to the affluent class, like boutiques and coffee shops and juice bars, will flourish while businesses that cater to long-term residents, like hardware stores and shoe repair shops, will be priced out and disappear as property values rise.

I asked Haid if he feels responsible at all to the neighborhoods he builds his properties in. He said he wants neighborhoods to retain their authentic nature and not become homogenized.

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  • We have Paul the pie man, whose bakery has been around for a long time, he comes in once a month and he teaches pie making classes. So we try to integrate this. We try to give people a unique local experience.


    But when I ask if Roam takes into consideration the possibility of speeding up the gentrification process of the neighborhoods they build in, he says gentrification is an inevitable process. There is a difference between development and gentrification, as gentrification means the displacement of a local community by a more affluent outside demographic, rather than the influx of money to an already established community.

    There's also a difference between gentrifying your own country or city and the kind of colonial gentrification that takes place in the global South. Here colonialism is remixed, with money replacing guns as the method and things like an idyllic, exotic setting and local labor replacing rubber and copper as the resources to be stripped.

    Haid's statement about the desirability of development is echoed by the Bali tourist guide and driver Dewa Alit. We can send our children to better schools. Another driver I spoke to was also happy about the tourist money. The traditional mode of living, the intergenerational family compound, presented as the ideal set up in the book, is not beloved by all. Tourist money allowed him and his wife to set up their own household separate from the compound, and he was shy about letting me use his name, sheepish about hurting anyone's feelings.

    It's not just Western money that is part of the colonial gentrification process, then, it is also the Western way of life. And while many of these cosmopolitans may say they travel in order to meet new people, experience new cultures, and have new experiences, studies have found that these new global elite tend only to encounter other global elites. That tension is not only about morality, but often merely who is allowed to profit from the new world order.

    During the Enlightenment, as capital overtook bloodlines to define your place in the societal hierarchy, perennial bitter outsider Rousseau ranted against the worldly elites. Beware of those cosmopolitans who go on distant bookish quests for the duties which they disdain to fulfil[l] in their own surroundings. Development is accompanied by the breaking apart of traditional society, and that often leads to religious extremism and violent revolt by the vulnerable underclasses, as outlined in Pankaj Mishra's Age of Anger: A History of the Present.

    Unsettled - Wikipedia

    More than people died, almost half of them Australians. In , another series of bombings took an additional 20 lives. The tourist industry continues to put stress on Balinese society, as the island is facing a critical water shortage problem — there are hundreds of hotels and each occupied 4-star hotel room goes through liters per day — and most of the tourist industry is run by international investors, including the proposed Trump International Hotel and Tower Bali. Much of the tourist money, then, does not even enter into the local economy, but is instead diverted toward the Australians and Americans who power the development projects.

    Even the Balinese dialect is dying out, as business is conducted in Indonesian and English. During our interview, Haid asked me if I had been introduced to Roam residents while on my tour of the Ubud property. Well, I said, they were some guys working on apps. Haid groaned, saying they'd had a particularly tech-bro heavy month in March, but it was not a fair representation of who used their service.

    He promised to put me in touch with an artier member of their community. I spoke with Philippa Donovan over Skype.

    It's easier than ever to live with no fixed address, but that doesn't come without a cost.

    Currently a resident of the London property, she was originally introduced to Roam while in Bali on holiday. She met with one of the founders while at an ecstatic dance party in Ubud, and she was excited by the idea, having lived a rootless existence for a decade at that point. Neither a publisher nor an agent, she instead works with writers to prepare their manuscripts for submission, or she can be hired by a writer to make introductions to agents and others in the business for a fee.

    Originally from Sydney, she found herself moving around to scout out new writers in places like Los Angeles or be near publishing centers like London. Roam London Cooking Class Photo: Haid spoke very eloquently about the power of travel to reshape a person and open them up to new possibilities. Travel was only something he started to explore as an adult. It's important to be close to different cultures and learn from them. If you approach it very openly and you're malleable enough to absorb the differences of other cultures, it's good.

    Having grown up in a very insular rural town in Kansas, I had a conservative worldview until I actually started moving around in the world, proving myself wrong about other nations and cultures. But it's easy to talk about what the world can offer to the traveler. A more difficult and tricky question is how much the traveler takes without giving back to the world, and perhaps what he or she should be doing with that debt. What Roam and other facilities like it should remember is how easy they can make it for their clients to forget that debt even exists.

    The Unsettled It's easier than ever to live with no fixed address, but that doesn't come without a cost. Shutterstock - Photo illustration by The Outline. Jessa Crispin Jul—13— Get The Outline in your inbox.