The Overseas Dream – Immigrant / Expat Spotlight


In my opinion, culture, as language, is an ever-changing medium. Immigration is a give and take, it leaves participants on both ends altered. The tacos we eat in LA or the sushi we consume in Hamburg represent the long road from one country to another – certainly some „authenticity“ or „purity“ is lost, but the result is nevertheless culturally charged and rich. The English I speak with my children in Germany has traces of my youth in Texas, of my parents‘ Hungarian ancestry, of my years spent in France, of my experience teaching around the world, etc. It is not a purely „Texan“ or „Midwestern“ or even „American“ English. It has nuances and edges, which, in my opinion can only be seen as
positive. The cultural struggles of first generation or even second generation immigrants is real and can be very challenging to navigate – by the way, both for the immigrants and the receiving culture or country. So, in answer to your question, I think people can integrate and still maintain their „original“ cultural identity, but ultimately, the goal is to achieve a mix. And this includes, as I mentioned, some degree of loss and some degree of gain.

The pressure I felt to make my parents‘ immigration worth while was difficult to deal with and felt restraining and limiting at times. However, it also filled me with a sense of purpose and motivated me. So many young people I meet nowadays seem lost in the sea of opportunities and choices presented to them. Feeling pressure to go after your dreams, or to even identify what your dreams are is also real. Today, the pressure on young people growing up in rich, developed countries is, in my opinion, to reach some sort of self-actualisation. I don’t think that’s any less difficult than the pressure I had growing up. Life is meant to be embraces, I think, with its pressures and difficulties and all the wonders if brings as well. How to go after your dreams and still honour your parents‘ wishes? Do you know the scene in City Slickers, where the Jack Palance character tells the Billy Christall character that the answer is in his one little finger? Well, I think it’s kind of like that. There is no formula. You just have walk the line and try your best. Sorry, if that’s too vague.   

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