be:longing – a look back on our first year

When we launched be:longing, we hoped to begin a new type of dialogue on cross-cultural and migration-related ideas and experiences: one grounded in openness and creativity, and one where our voices – the voices of people living between and across cultures – shaped the conversation.  Over the course of our first year, be:longing has grown beyond our wildest imaginations.  With each new piece, our eyes and minds have been opened more and more not only to the incredible beauty and complexity of multidimensional cultural life, but also to the true universality of human experience and the generosity and sense of community that can come from recognising it.

From the very first pieces we received, we started to see be:longing becoming a place to express long-quiet curiosities and perspectives – a vessel for the communication of precious and personal thoughts.  From Transplant to Skin to Pestle, we saw internals and externals conflicting, each vying for dominance or definition.  In One Name. Two Worlds., Apollo within the Oracle and In step with my own drum beats, we saw conflicts in identity as well as efforts to reconcile them, while Belonging (not) proffered a solution: perhaps complex definition might actually make for a decent definition after all.

Through Ack and In conversation with Jara Abagada, we ruminated on states of welcome and unwelcome, while The kindness of strangers reminded us that our interactions with others are not always on the bases we assume.  In a similar sense, Green Banana  and #31 explored how unexpected familiarity can be warm and encouraging, while the interaction described in The samosas are cooked in ghee showed us how unexpected familiarity can also challenge our senses of cultural ownership.

In Health in Translation and There is a change, we recognised the instinct to step up when you’re a sort-of-fellow migrant’s best bet, while Passing Through and The Magic of Mystery: Belgrade Unravelled reminded us that sometimes we have to step up for ourselves to ensure our own well-being in new environments.  Do we ever just wear clothes? and Looking through the same lens helped us reflect on ways to view culture – both lived and taught – while Learning a second language as an adult reminded us of the destablising effect that new languages and experiences can have on even the most willing learners.

In India through my eyes, The Apple Blossom Trees and From a Shimmering Autumn in Kashmir to a Majestic Autumn in Canberra, we shared in appreciative perspectives on transported lives, while Aloo Aloo Beirut showed us the way that this same transportation can leave gaps in transmission in family narratives.  Finally, in Growing Roots and Australia Felix, we saw explorations of ways to connect to and view new homes, while Transposed Christmas, A special soup and Qarni Yariq showed us how sometimes the simplest things – a song or beloved meal, shared – can help us stay connected to even the most distant homes.

be:longing has reinforced for us the power that discussion in an atmosphere of mutual respect and inquisitive contemplation can have to reassure and to bolster us against feelings of exclusion or misunderstanding.  We are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity thus far to share in experiences that we would otherwise never have heard about.  It has been a true pleasure watching this community come together, and we are looking forward to building on that even further going forwards.  With that, we invite you all, as always, to add your voices to the community – even if it is just a spark of an idea.  We would love to hear from you!

To close, we would like again to thank everyone who helped us get, and keep, be:longing going.  Thank you to our acquisitions editors, past and present: Anita, Win Yee and Abeir – you have been instrumental to be:longing’s successes.  Thank you also to our contributors – you have made be:longing a warm, exciting and welcoming place to visit week after week.  And finally, thank you to all our readers – your support has been a reviving draught of encouragement to us time and again.

We wish you all a wonderful close to 2017, and we can’t wait to see you all again in 2018.

All the very best,
Dunja and Jasmine