Our morning advanced class used Shaun Tan’s picture book The Arrival as inspiration for group writing. This book illustrates the journeys of migrants, refugees, and other displaced people, to an unknown and mysterious country where everything is nameless. Katrin and Clara wrote this narrative describing the feelings somebody might feel if they were forced to be separated from their family and face the journey alone.

The Morning of his departure was grim and bleak.

Whilst packing the last necessary things, he felt despondent, looking at the familair surroundings he might never see again. One of his origami paperbirds, the old cracked teapot, the kitchen clock, whose ticking reminded him mercilessly of the fact that he was running out of time, a drawing from his daughter, and his most precious belonging: a family picture, which he also placed in his old trunk.

The dark shadows that had taken over his homeland a long time ago were looming threateningly above him and his family on their way to the train station. As the moment came to bid farewell to his daughter, tears were welling up inside him. Heavy-heartedly, he magically let a paperbird appear out of his hat one last time like he had always done to cheer her up. No sooner had he given his wife one last tight hug than the train was due to depart and his life-changing journey due to begin.

His wife and his daughter, on the other hand, went back to their home under the menacing shadows of his country.

After a gruelling train journey, he found himself on one of the crammed boats that were transporting all of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants, who were all lured by the hope for a better life just like him. The days were gloomy and chilly and often he was almost convinced that those immense, heavy cumulus clouds above them would mean a cruel end to their journey.

It would take a long time before the new world finally became visible on the horizon. As the ship glided slowly through the harbour towards their destination, they were overwhelmed by all the exotic impressions it had to offer them. Little white birds were guiding them on their way heralding the wings of freedom awaiting them and, after all this time, he could not help but feel hope in his heart. The city itself looked wonderous, with two giant statues of hand-shaking strangers welcoming them to the harbour.

Eventually, the ship moored and it was time to set their feet on a new earth. The trunk felt heavy in his hand and so did he heart. Together with the other passengers, he was told to queue for an inspection, which was the only thing standing between him and the new world. The inspection itself was straining. They looked at him and at his wallet, had a look inside his mouth amd his ears, checked his documents, and had him answer questions about previous illnesses, as well as his past and ambitions. Suddenly, it was all over again and he felt a strange emptiness taking over his body. What should become of him now in this alien place? He did not know but held on to the trunk with the family picture inside it very closely, while he was taking his place among the other immigrants, who felt just like him.

He had arrived.