I am often in awe of immigrants, especially the trailblazers—the ones who are first to leap into a new and unknown land and language without anything familiar or anyone familial or friendly waiting to catch them. What an exercise of audacious bravery. Moving isn’t easy. It takes courage and flexibility to build a life somewhere foreign—whether it’s a new country or a new city.
Though they didn’t have to hurdle a language barrier, I think about what it must have taken for my parents to leave their families behind—to board a plane and set off for a country full of streets, foods, and customs that were new them. Even the weather was foreign—new phenomena like winter’s snow, cold, and the changing leaves of autumn.
They both left an island so small that almost everyone there knew them, and they came to a country so big they must have felt invisible by comparison.
Were they afraid? Did they hesitate? Did they ever feel so homesick they thought they’d made a mistake? What kept them from going back? Was it confidence? Was it faith?
What enables a person to move so far away from father, mother, and motherland that visiting home becomes impossible or, at best, infrequent? When you move to a new place, how long does it take to stop feeling lost where you live? How long before the foreign feels familiar? And what if you’re met with discrimination because of your color, customs, accent, or origins?
It takes courage to move. It takes great bravery to go somewhere or try something new. There are no guarantees in the unknown. Sometimes foreign lands are unwelcoming lands too. And so I am in awe of those who leave country and culture—friends and family—the comfortable and the familiar and move somewhere foreign. I marvel most at those who must live surrounded by a foreign language as well as a new country, but all moves are impressive to me.