Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guest Post: The Life and Emotions of an Immigrant

I vowed to take the weekend 'off' from the blog because I've done quite a bit of heavy lifting here lately. I put out a call for volunteers to write guest posts and (to my surprise) got quite a few responses right away!

My guest blogger for today is one of the reasons that I love Twitter so much. She is loving and supportive and just an all-around wonderful person. Debbie can be found on Twitter at @debbiemc18 or on her blog Africa's Blog.

I am not sure how it is for every immigrant, as everyone’s story is different, where they came from, what they have endured, are they leaving their homelands as refugees or as individuals who have being granted the right to live in another country and hopefully make a better future for themselves.
My story is this, I left South Africa to play ice hockey, along with that came the ability to attend college in the United States. Well really it was attending school that allowed me to play hockey here but I always said jokingly (I think) to my parents that I was coming to America to play hockey and get an education on the side.

Twelve years later, with a green card in hand, I still live and work here in the United States, in MN to be exact. I am no longer a resident of South Africa; I am a permanent resident of the United States of America. What does even mean, besides for the obvious, that I can live here permanently?
It means that I am a first generation immigrant; I have chosen to leave behind, my heritage, my country, my home, my family and along with all that a part of my identity! None of this fully sunk in for me until I received that green card in the mail in September. What should have being a joyous occasion, I mean I had been waiting for it for over 6 years, was actually a day that made me realize, realize that I really didn’t belong!! I no longer belonged to South Africa (besides for the green passport I still carry) and I don’t really belong to the USA, I can only work here, not vote, not do anything else bestowed only upon citizens, so I really don’t belong anywhere!!

Along with ‘giving up’ so much comes endless amounts of heartache, that if you ask me never go away, and I’m not sure I would want it to go away as that would mean I no longer love and miss all that I left behind. Don’t get me wrong, I know I made this decision for myself, I mean I DID choose this, I pursued the hockey, the college hockey and therefore the amazing education I received which lead to great employment opportunities and that along with continuing to better myself, by obtaining my CPA and CMA certifications, has created a career for me here, a future if you will, a better future, I believe, then I’d have had otherwise. However, along with all the positives remains the hurt, the heartache, and the constant ‘what ifs’, what if I stayed in South Africa, what if I pursued my education then went home, what if, what if…………

I’ll never have any answers to those what ifs so I attempt to push them out of my mind and rather focus on the positives of all I have accomplished, all I can still accomplish and all my life now holds for me in the United States.

I am thankful, thankful that I chose the route to immigration at the young age I did, that I did not involve children in this process, that with any amount of luck my children will not know the aching, the longing, the emptiness I sometimes feel when I realize I left everything behind me. Of course with this comes the fact that my children will not fully know my heritage, where I come from, our family back in South Africa, what we did for fun as kids, and why I laugh at South African humor that you can only understand if you’ve lived there. Nonetheless, I am still thankful that I can provide a better, safer future for my children, and I will strive to teach them everything I can about where I come from, who their family is on the other side of the ocean and I hope instill in them the fact that although I left the land of my birth, I am in fact PROUDLY SOUTH AFRICAN, and I always will be.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your nice words about me :) I love all the friends I have made through twitter and blogging!!
Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to guest post on your blog!! I am honored!!

Jennifer said...

What if's are always a biggie! I think about them sometimes but always come back to the same conclusion that every path I have traveled led me to where I am and firmly believe it is where I was meant to be. I enjoyed reading your post, made me think a little about what it would be like to really leave your family - not just a state or two away.

Glenda said...

I have a lot of what ifs too but I think they make us who we are. Thanks for having her on your blog and it was a great post. I look forward to learning more about you both through your blogs.

Mommy Moments with Abby said...

This is touching! Putting out your personal struggles and not really belonging anywhere is something I know I never thought about regarding immigrants. Thank you so much for putting yourself out their! I plus one'd this!