Migration can be traced as far back to historical events such as conquests and colonization, and slavery and indentureship. Today many people continue to immigrate to other countries in a quest for better life, better education, better medical care and even so that they can escape persecutions from their own country.
We pack our bags and leave to start a journey on our own or to reunite with our families. Some people did not even get the chance to leave peacefully.
Regardless of the reasons for leaving, we find ourselves in new realms where we learn new customs and try to adjust.
When I first came to America as an exchange student, I was in awe of how beautiful and accessible everything is. I was, however, amused that people treated persons in a prejudicial way because you looked and sounded different from them.
That was my first cultural shock!
Years later when I migrated permanently, I found out through observation that depending on the state in which you live and the area within the state, you may be further exposed to different prejudicial treatments.
For example, in a diversed area as New York City, you tend to feel accepted and you are hardly ever treated in an unjust way. People are definitely rude but it seem to be more by nature and not because of the color of your skin or your accent. On the contrary, as you move farther away from the city you find that there are strains of prejudice and even racism. You may live in a nice neighborhood tucked away from the crowd and bustling city life, but then you find that not everyone is welcoming or let you feel accepted because, I assume, you have just invaded their neighborhood.
I then came to conclude that the habitation of Caribbean people, Asians, Indians and so on, in close proximity in certain neighborhoods, occur because immigrants get to feel at home and experience a sense of belonging.
The fact is when you live in neighborhoods with people who are similar to you in color, beliefs and social and geographical backgrounds there tend to be more comfort and sense of community.
As immigrants we have been physically alienated from our own country.
We face scrutiny from those who have claimed true stakes on our new home by the nature of their birth.
At times I try to tell myself that in a work setting nothing said and done to me is personal. But 7 out of 10 times it is completely hard to ignore the way I am treated because I look and sound different from those who were born here.
Despite the atrocities that are meted out to us, we take our new country as our home. We work hard to feel accepted, to utilize all the opportunities that are available and to rise above the prejudicial ways that we encounter.
We make sacrifices so that we can have a better life for ourselves and our children and so that we can achieve things that may have not been attainable in the country of our birth.
But even when we do what the Romans do, there sometimes seem to be a level of unacceptance that leave us being aliens in these streets.