Asad Hussein is a sophomore at Princeton University, where he studies literature, politics, and history. His writing has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Sahan Journal, and elsewhere. (April 2020)

Follow Asad Hussein on Twitter: @asadhussein_.

NYR DAILY

Chasing the Mirage, from Nairobi to New York City

Dadaab, Kenya, January 30, 2016; Ifo 2 camp is one of four camps that make up Dadaab refugee complex. It was established during the 2011 famine to decongest Ifo and Dagahley camps and, at the time this photo was taken, was home to over 50,000 refugees.

In Kenya, I’d distanced myself from being a refugee because it was criminal to be one; in America, I readily admitted to being a refugee even when others didn’t understand what it meant. I quickly noticed the consequences were not as dire as in Kenya—in my case, at least. This made me only angrier. Why was it easier for me to catch a bus in a country where I was a stranger and not in the one where I was born? More than anger, though, I was gripped by resounding guilt.