Picture by Diego Sarmiento

Why Migrate? - Reasons and Challenges | Pais con Visa with Diego Sarmiento: Season 1, Episode 1 🌍

Season 1, Episode 1
07 AUG 2023

My name is Diego Sarmiento. I have lived and worked in five countries, and I want to talk to you about the reasons for migrating, when it is and when it is not a good decision.

Hello everyone, and honestly, I was thinking about where to start this conversation. Migrating is no different from the process we have on how to choose a partner, for example, how to choose a job, how to choose to start a business. Definitely, something triggers it, definitely, there may be an external circumstance that pressures the matter, it may be a combination of an internal process, a dream, something that started that was suddenly on our mind, not very clear at first, but that gradually took shape. Many things happened during that process, probably actions that we were taking along the way, and we came to that point where, okay, this is a possibility, or this is something we have to do now.

When I talk about migrating, I'm not referring only to moving from one country to another. Migrating can simply be moving from city to city within the same country; migrating can be moving from state to state; migrating can be moving from region to region. The reasons are personal, but what is common is that search for better conditions, that search for fulfillment, to aspire to something better. And one of the things you realize when you have migrated several times is that you can coincide in the same place with people from the same country as you, but the reasons change. The reasons are not necessarily the same.

Sometimes, even understanding a little about the context of each person, each family, the cultural part, the city where we come from, the motivations are different. And when you have spent enough time in one place, you begin to understand that the reasons to stay in that place are also different. The way I see it, migration is definitely a natural process; it is a necessary process for countries. Migration generates diversity, tolerance, inclusion, and not by decree but because that same diversity is forced to interact in a context, at a given moment.

The big test of the person who migrates, the family that migrates in the long run, is never talked about enough regarding the number of people who migrate, move from one place to another, and then end up returning. Why? Because it is incredibly difficult and incredibly demanding in every aspect, in the personal aspect, in the family aspect, in the work aspect, in the social aspect. It is a permanent test.

You have to develop a mentality, a mentality that requires adaptability, a mentality that requires the ability to sense changes, to understand social dynamics well, to strike a balance between preserving what is your essence, your culture of origin, and at the same time being open enough to integrate into the new context. Personally, I totally disagree with an immigrant who migrates to a country like the United States and does not learn English. There is no justification for that. It's simply unwillingness, lack of will. I don't believe there are problems or even a lack of resources for that; a community college can cover that, with the number of resources we have now on YouTube.

Probably, the decision there is another type of decision. And there is a bit like this misunderstanding of wanting to stay sometimes in the same context as always, in the same context in the country, in the country where you were, in the new country, which is toxic in a way. It's good for you to relate to people of your same citizenship, for example, when you are in another country, but if you are only going to stay there.

And one of the things that I think is also important to remember is that migration is a cyclical process. Migration, in the end, is a process that sooner or later happens in different countries at different times or in particular places that have to change their context in some way, and people somehow have to leave that place for some reason and move to another. Sometimes this comes for economic reasons; sometimes it comes for reasons of natural catastrophe; sometimes it comes for political or social reasons. But the truth is that sooner or later it can happen that one, two, three generations do not see changes, but eventually, the changes come. And I think that in the world where we live, it is something that is more obvious in the way we are now more connected with others. What happens on one side ends up affecting the other side, and here, that "well, that happens over there, it doesn't concern me" -- be careful with that.

Be careful, because, in the end, we are all connected, and what happened with COVID revealed our fragility in a moment like that, the way what happened in one country affected the other was simply a metaphor for what was happening in other aspects of our lives, but we don't see it. That this thing of being citizens of the world is not a romantic idea, in my point of view, it is not a marketing idea, but it is the reality we live in.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of emigrating? Well, it is not perfect; no decision is perfect. Sometimes there is a lot of romanticism behind it. Sometimes there is a lot of marketing behind it, where we think that, "Ah, I'm going to emigrate, and it's going to be super good, it's going to be super easy, it's going to be wonderful." And you know what? The reality is very, very, very different. The decision to emigrate requires sobriety; it requires pragmatism; it requires a deep understanding of who we are and what works for us.

Sometimes, as part of this romanticism, I see, for example, friends, friends who want to emigrate, and who think that the United States is the best place for them because of whatever reason. And I think it is because they haven't considered well, for example, other places, other places where, precisely, their way of thinking, their way of living, their lifestyle is more compatible with another country, with other contexts.

One of the things I have learned is that in the end, each place is unique, each place has its unique opportunities, each place has its unique challenges, some places have cultures that are more open to immigrants, others are less open. The truth is, with patience, with effort, with the right attitude, and sometimes you have to wait a little longer, but you can develop beautiful relationships, you can develop meaningful relationships. At the end of the day, there are no good or bad places, but there are simply places that make us shine a little more than others. And that, that is the place where you have to be.

The idea of this podcast, Pais con Visa is that I want to share more of my experiences, more of my thoughts, more of my reflections, more of my stories about the process of migration. This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, and this is the moment. I hope that with each episode, we can explore a little more of the world of migration, what it means to live and work in a foreign country, and also reflect on why we make these decisions and how we can make the best of it.

So, stay tuned; we will continue with the episodes, and thank you for being part of this journey.

Full Podcast