Laurie Kellman, Associated Press
To feel 2023 is to listen closely and think on the words of awe, dread, anger, disconnect, loss — and yes, love — that flowed from people directly involved in the world’s most recent turns of history.
“I’m feeling the goose bumps, and it’s a very happy moment … You can see the energy. It’s beyond words.”
— Shrini Singh as she watched the live broadcast of Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 landing on the lunar surface, making India only the fourth country to achieve this milestone. The successful landing showcasing India’s rising standing as a technology and space powerhouse sparked celebrations across India. Singh was speaking in New Delhi on August 23.
“We are here all together, all the world together, to combat climate change and, really, we’re negotiating for what? We’re negotiating for what in the middle of a genocide?”
— Hadeel Ikhmais, a climate-change expert with the Palestinian Authority, on December 1 during the COP28 talks in Dubai. The Israeli offensive had killed more than 18,700 Palestinians as of the weekend of December 16 and 17, the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory says.
“They told me that this country was different. But for me, it’s been hell.”
— Karina Obando, 38, a mother from Ecuador who has been given until January 5 to leave the former hotel in New York City where she has been staying with her two young children. She is one of thousands of migrant families in an emergency shelter system who has been ordered by the city to clear out, with winter setting in. Mayor Eric Adams says the order is necessary to relieve a shelter system overwhelmed by asylum seekers crossing the southern US border.
“What is most painful is that years after the brutalities and the stealing of our land, British companies are still in possession of our ancestral homes, earning millions from their comfortable headquarters in the UK, while our people remain squatters.”
— Joel Kimutai Kimetto, 74, speaking to the AP in a phone interview during King Charles III’s visit to Kenya in October. Kimetto said his grandfather and father were kicked out of their ancestral home by the British.
“God gave me a new lease on life.”
— Osama Abdel Hamid, weeping at a hospital in Idlib, Syria, after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, the deadliest in decades, devastated his war-ravaged country and parts of Turkey on February 6. He said most of his neighbours died when their shared four-storey building collapsed. As he fled with his wife and three children, a wooden door fell on them, shielding them from falling debris.
“This is probably the most uniquely horrible choice I’ve had in my life.”
— Andrew Collins, 35, an independent from Windham, Maine, on the likely showdown in next year’s election between political foes, men who each have served one term as president, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. Collins participated in a poll this month from The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research, in which American voters made clear how less than jazzed they are about such a rematch in 2024.
“It is amazing to see this huge berg in person — it stretches as far as the eye can see.”
— Andrew Meijers, chief scientist on board the research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, which crossed paths with the mega iceberg known as the A23a near Antarctica in early December. The iceberg is three times the size of New York City, or more than twice the size of Greater London.
“When they asked me to open my bra … I was shocked! But I couldn’t speak or refuse. When I tried to cover my breast with my hand, I was even scolded and yelled at…I was totally confused, nervous and humiliated, especially when I was told to lift my left leg on the chair.”
— Priskila Ribka Jelita, a 23-year-old model and a 2023 Miss Universe Indonesia contestant, describing her “body check” in an interview with The Associated Press on August 15 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“There was silence and like a mist, as if it was dusk, but only a few minutes later the birds were singing again.”
— Carmen Jardines, 56, watching the “ring of fire” eclipse in October from Cancún, Mexico, on the dance of the moon and the sun cheered by millions across the Americas.
“I’m trying not to do anything that alienates anyone. But I can’t just not do the right thing because I’m scared.”
— Cydney Wallace, a Black Jewish community activist in Chicago, part of a growing number of Black Americans who see the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank and Gaza reflected in their own fight for racial equality and civil rights. The recent rise of protest movements against police brutality in the US, where structural racism plagues nearly every facet of life, has connected Black and Palestinian activists under a common cause.