SEND HER BACK…

One of my favourite quotes comes from someone I meet in my first year of University. He was there on an exchange in Canada, we meet each other and added each other on Facebook. As he graduated back home in Europe, he posted a rather interesting post.

“We are a new generation of students/employees, living on the fast lane, travelling between timezones, having friends and significant others on the other side of the globe. For us borders are an old fashioned concept. We are the children of globalization. We see the good in each others culture and customs, we don’t judge, we accept, we adapt. Maybe we are the future. A future free of wars and diplomatic tensions. We might not have realized this yet, but we live the life our forefathers worked so hard for…Or maybe these are just crazy thoughts of a sleep deprived man…” – His post

When I saw this quote I could not help but to feel proud of the world we were creating. I thought my gosh he is right. I love learning about new cultures and growing up in a different culture than my parent’s I learned to take the best of each, recognize the failures, challenge them, combine them, celebrate the good parts, celebrate the wins, adapt, and most of all love them.

It is astounding to me that within a couple of years of reading his statement I would hear in the news that a political figure was shot in the head for being pro immigration here in Germany. And then a couple more months to hear that this past week in America a full stadium would chant: “Send her back!” talking about an American citizen. Send her back where? The land where her parents where born? Because let’s be honest SHE IS HOME.

This is perhaps one of my greatest fears come true. Through out my life I have encounter single cases of uneducated and closed minded people but never in such a scale. It never surprised me because let’s be honest for a moment. No matter in which country you go to, it is human basic instinct to fear the unknown and what we don’t understand in order to survive. But I thought that we had become more evolved as I also meet even more people who are opened minded, who cared to educate themselves rather than be driven by fear of the unknown and classify people by the stereotypes.

If we went by the simple stereotypes that we see on TV then this would be an extremely sad world. All we would find would be the negative. But I’ve learned that generally TV and news tend to show the worst because it is what sells. If it’s a good news story it cannot be longer than 1 minute and 15 seconds because then people get bored and change the channel. Crazy right? But that is a statistic. That’s a hard fact to swallow.

Here is another one. No one culture is perfect. Humans are not perfect. I’m not perfect. But at least i’m trying to be a better person each day. But I’ve come to learn that if we open ourselves to the possibility to look for the good rather than focus on the bad we can co-exist and strive. Some of the greatest discoveries have been when there has been a mixture of cultures. When we have learned from each other rather than when we have attacked each other.

World wars, civil wars, wars, extremism, genocides, ethnic cleanses, a culture of racism, and a culture of classism does not happen over night. They brew and grow by stroking and manipulating fear.

There is a saying that says that you can gain power by fear. It’s been demonstrated a million times. They even sometimes throw it out on popular TV Shows. I know this is over and done with but if you’ve ever seen Gossip Girl there is a scene with Blair and Jenny. Where Blair tells Jenny: “You can’t make them love you but you can make them fear you.”

What Blair doesn’t know yet or has not learned it is that you may gain power by using fear in your enemy. But leading that way is dangerous because as soon as the other party does not have anything to fear/lose they will get out of under and destroy the other person so they don’t have to live in fear again. While leading with love and caution creates loyalty and a way more effective system.

I know it is more comfortable to stay in with what we have learned and our comfort zones. It is easier to stay quiet and not be uncomfortable by touching controversial topics. It is easier to say it is useless, or a waste of time, or that it doesn’t matter because they are radicalized and won’t hear anything anyways. It is easier to say it will pass, so there is no point in doing anything. This is nothing new. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said once: ” Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said:’ Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.'”

I have meet many people of different countries and I can tell you one thing, if you look pass the stereotypes and see the person for who they actually are, one will see there is not a one mold fits all. So take a chance and respectfully discuss and try to find common ground.

Because what I’m seeing right now cannot be better illustrated than by a quote from Erwin Griswold in On The Basis Of Sex, : ” [you] are deciding what kind of country, what kind of society [you] want [your] children and grandchildren to grow up in. You make sure the [world] sees what’s at stake is [your] family.”

I know it’s hard to speak up. I know it is more comfortable to think of this too shall pass. Nothing like WW2 or anything that bad can happen again. However, I’ll leave you with this quote.

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”- John Stuart

xxx,

Adriana

FINDING YOUR QUIET (HAPPY) PLACE AS A BALANCE WHILE INTEGRATING INTO A NEW SURROUNDING

Every time you move, wether it is from one country to another country or from city to city, it always takes a while to find your favourite places. First things first… though a girl has got to eat so usually the grocery stores are the first things you look for and then you go onto other things. Where do you hang out? What do you explore? Where will you go when you need a break? Where will you go when you want to be outside? And the list goes on.

Of course there is always your favourite stores. But I mean you can only go to it so many times in one week without buying anything. I don’t know I feel a little guilty if I keep going in without buying anything…. Do you guys feel like that too?

So I’ve become more in tune with the outdoors. I mean I try to walk around my town and explore. Thanks to my sister in law (*shout out to Carol ❤ @happilyeverrivera) I started to think okay maybe I should also explore the surroundings like forest, etc. And guess what?! I found we actually have lots of place around Osnabrück to hike. They are really pretty and peaceful.

I knew I liked to be around water so one day I got in the car with my husband and we looked on google maps which was the closest lake around. Turns out its actually about a 10-15 minutes drive in the city. It’s surrounded by a forrest where you can walk around, it has a small restaurant, some play parks, enough green place to have a picnic, they have some pedal boats and near it there is a mini golf course. This place is perfect. It’s like a little piece of heaven where I can disconnect from the world. I’m not going to lie it is the perfect place to go on a date. Sometimes it’s just nice to go out of the city but still be in it.

I like to go there and disconnect from my everyday life and take some time to recharge. I recharge my focus and find a balance in life. It’s such a nice place that I love bringing people there as much as I like going there by myself. Being surrounded by so much nature makes me feel the need to disconnect from anything that is not right in front of me which helps me be able to connect with the people right in front of me.

I think part of wellness is also recognizing when you need time alone and when you need social contact with other people. As humans being we will always crave contact with other people, the only difference is the amount of time we need. Wellness is extremely important and you have to take care of it yourself. Sometimes when we immigrate finding a routing, a place, a connection, getting everything ready, specially here in Germany where there is so many documents to prepare feels like it’s too much. But things that are rushed rarely end up well so it’s important to be patient with yourself, find a place where you can breath and take care of yourself. Make some time to explore not only your surroundings but yourself too.

xxx

Adriana

THEY SAY DISTANCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

Who knew you could have so many emotions at once? This year as I’m settling in my third home I’m experiencing new and old emotions all at once. Here is a secret not so secret about immigrating: You will never have a complete 💓. This may sound funny. As humans the heart is a biologically organ that is stuck inside your ribcage and is vital to keep on living. It truly is an interesting organ. Humans as a whole are interesting. But the point is that you may have it as a whole organ inside your ribcage and it will still be in pieces. What do I mean by that?

I mean that as you adapt to your new home your heart won’t ever be completely in one piece as you yearn for things that you will not be able to find from your old home. And when you go to your old home it will never again be one in your old home as you miss things from your new home. It’s a blessing and a curse all at once. Because you get to experience new things and through it you get to grow as a person.

The consequence is your heart will never again be just one. You will love both places fiercely perhaps like a parent who loves both their children. The parent loves both of them and as they grow, they get to know their similarities, differences, advantages, disadvantages and accepts their faults in each. In the end the parent loves the children all the same.

One of the advantages that I’m so blessed with that I have now as I immigrate is technology. I’m able to call my birth family and my friends. See their faces in real time. This was not the case as when I first immigrated. It helps me keep my relationships and at the same time it hurts.

Today I was so happy to be able to witness the growth of my nephew and at the same time I was so terribly sad to not be able to be there in person. To give him a hug and a kiss. What did he do?

Well hold your breath ladies and gentlemen. He pointed at the phone and said my name for the first time. Yes, hold your tears. As an aunt that was one of the best moments in my life and it was possible because of technology. I do have to be honest, I couldn’t stop smiling and yes I cried when I hanged up both of happiness and of longing. I haven’t been able to hold him now for 6 long months. I know it may not seem like a lot but in baby development that’s huge. When he was born I was about to move. I had the privilege to help take care of him for a month. Let me tell you when I left I was so glad to be able to sleep in but so sad because I knew everything I was giving up. I missed his first birthday. I missed his first christmas. Just like I’ve missed the first 3 christmas of my niece.

It’s not the first time I experience that and it surely won’t be the last. I was grateful in that moment for my husband. He came and hugged me and celebrated the fact my nephew recognizes my voice and knows my name even with sooo much physical distance. He made me laugh while crying. And I remember quickly how my heart is also here.  

And just like that my heart experience so many emotions that are opposites and it was split being in Canada and being in Germany.

Then I look at these pictures and treasure them and I’m back in Guatemala on my wedding day holding some of the most important people in my life… and life goes on. That’s another day in my integration process.

xx

Adriana

NEW BEGGININGS

I find footprints on sand a beautiful thing. It may just be that it reminds me of all the imprints that have been left on my heart.

I immigrated twice in my life now. Once as a preteen to Canada and now as an adult to Germany. Both times as a woman. When moving to Germany I thought: “Oh well. I’ve done it once and succeed at it. I can do it again.”

That was about a year ago. Had you asked me a year ago whether I was worried or anything I would have laughed and said I’ve done it once, I’ll do it again. Now a days if you ask me how it is coming along I will tell you I’m blessed in so many ways and at the same time I cry at least once a month if not more because of how difficult I sometimes find it.

As a kid I learned the language in 6 months by being immersed in it. As an adult after a year into being “immersed” in the language, I’m halfway through what is considered proficient. I’ll let you laugh while you realized that life truly hit me with a curveball there and by own making.

This experience has really helped me grow. As a child I found it quite easy to integrate into a new culture. Everyone I meet my age was interested in learning where I came from, why I looked different, why I did things a certain way and was willing to help me learn the language. They were willing to take me into their circle of friends quite readily. It was an interesting experience as I truly didn’t understand why suddenly it seemed people were interested in me. You know as children, making friends sometimes is as easy as having the confidence of saying: “Hey! I’m xxx. Let’s be friends.”

Then you hit your teenage years and you are pretty set in your ways and circles. But you still find things to bond over. I mean you are stuck in a school for most of your day and in order to survive you find someone to laugh with. This makes for solid friendships. Those friendships where you can look back and laugh at your old days.

So I never truly understood why my parents were having such a hard time in finding new friends and integrating as well as we did. Now as an adult moving to a new country it felt like a lightbulb went on. I’m quite younger than the age my parents were when they moved and yet I feel for them now. It has helped me view their life in a more understanding way.

Right now I’m not in University anymore which means I’m not in a classroom with people with the same interests or still willing to try new experiences. I’m at an age were half my age group is either still in University specializing in their careers or they are focusing on building their careers or building and balancing families and therefore don’t have much time to spare. I get it. I have some of the same goals.

So should I just give up? I can tell you it’s hard but not impossible. It’s like when a turtle just hatches and has to go to the ocean. The odds are not in their favour and yet they all try to get into the water.

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So what do I do to learn and integrate? Tun in next week to find out.

After all don’t you want to find out more to understand the process and how it has changed me?

xx

Adriana