The lure of riches in a foreign land, the potential of awesome new opportunities, dreams of what might be – all these sometimes entice people to immigrate to a different country. Being reunited with a loved one or just longing for adventure are also strong reasons for immigrating. Sometimes, rather than being drawn to a new country, one is pushed: religious persecution, starvation when the crops have failed, escaping unbearable family situations. Certainly wars, revolutions and political unrest have caused thousands to try to find a peaceful existence elsewhere. And decades ago, many were forced against their will to live in a new country as slaves or as prisoners.
For all who move on, pulling up roots from their homeland can be traumatic. It truly is not an easy decision to make, and today about 15% of those who leave their native country choose to return, finding that adjusting to a new society is too difficult.
The easiest transitions occur when the immigrants can find a community made up of people from their native home. They can keep a lot of their old customs while integrating the new country’s language, values and culture. Experience seems to indicate that to be happy they need to wholeheartedly try to assimilate the new ways and not begrudge the environment being different. Home is where the heart is! Home needs to be wherever we are!
While planning to remain permanently in the new country, most find work and strive to own a home of their own. They learn the new language (sometimes laughingly) and educate their children in the new ways, without having the children cut the bonds that tie them to their native roots. To honor both countries with love is the goal!
Immigrants have made enormous contributions to the economies and cultures of their new countries, yet these are often made with tremendous difficulty. Newcomers face many challenges in being accepted, and when they arrive from being ‘pushed’ to the new country, rather than ‘longing’ for it, the transition is even harder. Sometimes those original dreams just don’t come true.
The immigrants who make a very good living in the new country and are able to send money home to relatives in the native country are usually glad they made the transition. Some are able to establish business links with the businesses back home, helping to ease the problems that are faced there. Other immigrants finally retire and return to their native land for their old age, only to find that it, too, has changed.
Ultimately we each have to learn to cherish where we are. The old saying, “Where ever I go, I go, too!” still rings true.