My name is Diana and I´m an emigrant in United States. In 2010, when my parents dropped me off at the airport, everybody thought that I was going to be gone for just one year. During that year, I enjoyed the cultural differences between my home country and the United States. I improved my English and I even met very special people.
But unexpected events happen. Five years later I am still here. I have my own family, a job, a house and even a dog. I´m extremely lucky for having all this but my condition as an emigrant will never let me be entirely happy, because I´ll be always missing someone: my parents, my siblings, my friends. I´ll always miss the landscape of my home town, the smell in the air, the streets where I grew up, my old school, the food, my language, my culture, and my values.
The mindset must change when your situation abroad switches from a “temporal situation” to a “permanent situation”. I needed to change myself in order to get adapted. And it is difficult. Above all when I was alone. The adaptation process in my situation began when I started feeling rootless. My interpretation of the world that I had subconsciously built throughout the years, was not longer valid. The body language had changed, the social interaction had changed, the social values had changed; everything was different. I felt like the ground I had been standing on for all my life slowly disappeared and vanished.
Suddenly I came back “home” to see my parents, siblings and friends. But I saw everything different. Things that I never questioned before, started to clash in my mind. Then with each visit, I slowly realized that “home” was not “home” anymore. That “home” was the place that I was leaving behind in United States. For some time I felt depressed and disappointed with the switch. I felt stateless; in the middle of nowhere without any support I could ask for help to untangle all these thoughts and feelings. Then one day, I met another emigrant. She had been living all her life between three different countries. I will never forget what she told me “this is not a disadvantage. You have got the amazing gift of understanding and living two different cultures.” She was completely right. I felt strengthen. Lucky. Empowered.
However, my adaptation process would have not been possible without the ability to speak English and Spanish, my native language. Because language is about much more than communication, it is also central to our cultural identity. Being bilingual is thus about much more than just understanding another language; being bilingual means you understand how other people from other cultures express their opinions and feelings because you are able to use the same structures in your mind. This is the beauty and magic of being bilingual.
I know that having a community out there would have made adapting to this new culture easier. But I never tried to find one until the birth of my daughter. My new responsibility of teaching her the world has increased my urge to create a community where we can support each other. A group that can meet regularly and speak in Spanish and other languages. We are a group who want our children to speak English and to be integrated in the American society but without giving up our own cultural heritage and our language.
If you are one of these people, please keep reading!