This topic has been heavy on my heart for the past couple of days as I am thinking about my departure from Italy and getting ready to see my family for the first time after 1 year. I wanted to write this post to talk about my thoughts as a first generation American living in Italy.
As many of you know from this previous post, my parents are originally from El Salvador which makes my siblings and I first generation Americans. Having grown up culturally different and with different languages than my parents did, this was something I struggled with and felt was a barrier to being as close to my parents as I would have liked. Being older now, our relationship has certainly improved throughout the years. Of course, I grew up speaking the same language as them and I am grateful to have been raised bilingual as this was part of the reason why I got hired for many of the positions I had over the last 10 years.
As mentioned above, I am quickly approaching the end of my first year in Italy. As I’m getting ready to head back to the states in less than 2 weeks, I have gotten questions about my departure and why I’m leaving. And well, the answer is… the year that I wanted to spend here is up. After a year of being away from my family, I think it’s time to go back.
I think about my parents courage of leaving their home country 35 years ago with the intention of never returning. Leaving their home, jobs, family, and their whole lives behind. Having now experienced what it’s like to live in a different country, as much as I love Italy, I don’t think I can call this place “home” forever as they have done in the United States. Their bravery far exceeds mine tenfold. What I have done by coming here, is nothing compared to the sacrifice and risks they took to create a life in a completely new country forever, as many immigrants and expats in the United States and other countries have also done.
Now being in Italy as a first generation American, I think about those sacrifices that they made for our family. All they did to get to the United States and to create their first “nest” for us in New York only for me to flee the country after 27 years, the country they worked so hard to call home for all of us. A part of me feels guilty, a bit irresponsible, and selfish to have left. It would be a lie to say I didn’t.
Growing up first generation also means getting the best of both worlds. Living life like an American but still enjoying the Salvadorian food, culture, music, and the list goes on. I was fortunate enough to visit El Salvador 7 years ago with my mother, her first visit since she left in 1982. This being my first time traveling outside the United States, it definitely sparked my interest in travel and opened my eyes to a whole new way of living in a different country.
I hope that if and when I do return to Italy, my parents can also enjoy la dolce vita along with me.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it” George Moore
All my love,