This project was very rewarding for me. It was a great pleasure for me to cover someone who is so important to me – my father. That being said, the biggest challenge was making sure that I did a good job of portraying him. In my opinion, my father is amazing. He is a truly inspirational and admirable person, and I hope that came through in this project. I do not think that a collection of words and photos can truly reflect a person. I struggled to convey his selflessness, sense of humor, bravery, and the way the people around him respect him. I am very proud to be his daughter. In doing this project, I was able to have an even greater appreciation of his story as a migrant because although I always knew parts of his experience, this was the first time I had the pleasure of hearing the story with more depth and detail.
There are aspects of my father’s story that differs significantly from many of the ethnographies that we have read in class; however, there are also aspects that related to our work from class.
In class we often discussed the push and pull factors that lead to migration. These factors can be economic, political, social, etc. Despite the military dictatorship in Argentina, Sebastian did not leave because of the political climate in Argentina. He explains, “I left because of an outside pull rather than inside push because I decided to go to Israel to help. ” He left because he felt he could serve a cause that was important to him. That being said, the conditions of Argentina also probably were a factor. When I asked him if he had wanted to leave Argentina, he immediately responded “yes.” Although he identifies a pull that brought him to Israel, the climate in Argentina was unfavorable and may have had to do with his decision to settle abroad.
Language can often be a challenge for migrants in the United States. Although Sebastian was completely fluent in English when he came to the United States, he had to overcome language hurdles when he migrated to Israel. Language helps one integrate oneself into society and can help a migrant feel at home.
In class we discussed various different experiences migrants have with becoming citizens. Some groups, like Puerto Ricans, are already legal citizens while other groups have difficulty becoming citizens. Sebastian had a very smooth process in gaining citizenship. He expressed his views that at the time of his migration, the United States was more welcoming to foreigners becoming legal. Citizenship can often help with belonging; however, it can also make it more difficult to feel at home in both the native land and the United States because migrants are constantly straddling two countries.
Migrants often struggle with belonging since they are often torn between the native country and adopted country. Sebastian clearly expressed that he considers the United States home. In many of the ethnographies we read, migrants discuss the dichotomy between the place where they live and their “felt” home or the place that is an emotional home. Sebastian did not have that experience in his migration. He felt very welcomed to the United States, and due to his negative experiences in Argentina, he fully integrated himself in his adopted country.
Many migrants experience stigmatization when they return to their home country. Many ethnographies that we read discuss the desire of migrants to return. Sebastian returns often to Argentina, although in recent years he has made less frequent visits. He has never felt that he has wanted to move back. He has a very complicated relationship with Argentina that is often characterized by frustration and disappointment in his native country. Even though Sebastian has spent time in Argentina after he moved to the United States, he does not feel torn between the two places. The United States is his home.