Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Returning Home, Giving up the American Dream

The following comment was made by mackdiva, an anonymous reader of this blog.

Jamaicans everywhere need to engage in much more dialogue with each other to sort out exactly what it means to migrate to another country. There are facts, but there is a lot of fiction...

Thanks to mackdiva for sharing

Well my friend...the grass seems greener when all you see is the hype that is America. There is much muchness here. Stores galore, big shiny hospitals with art on the walls, and nightlife and museums and baseball games and the list goes on.
But you need plenty of money to buy into all the muchness...pretty much like any other country. If you lived in Australia, or Gabon, or Thailand I would imagine that you would need a lot of money to live large there too. Just as if you were not so well off or struggling in those places the grass might seem greener somewhere else. I rarely hear of wealthy people leaving JA because I imagine they feel they have enough.
Now I was fooled by the hype of America. I grew up watching Sunday matinee movies on JBC where everybody in America sang and danced and all were happy. I visited America and was dazzled by all the shiny stuff...but thats all it is... stuff.

America is not that much different to anywhere else in the world right now. Never really was. It's not particularly safe, it has it's economic struggles, food is expensive. Many jobs do not offer insurance. Public schooling is weak unless you live in a very wealthy area. And I don't mean ordinary wealthy by living in a nice brownstone in Brooklyn wealthy. I mean living on Park Avenue overlooking Central Park wealthy, to have your child in a good public school that has the calibre teaching of say Fay Simpson Prep in JA.

Here in the States you have to put up with a value system in Education, and morals, and just a bunch of other things across the board that do not match the way we Jamaicans are raised. My daughter has to put up with children constantly talking and misbehaving in the classroon because her classmates do not value Education as Jamaicans do. The Teacher's hands are tied because even daring to discipline a child here is considered a classrooms are out of control.

I had to take my child to the hospital after a child stabbed her with a pencil at school. A beautiful hospital with smiling nurses and glistening floors. My husband and I took her through Emergency and the Doctor prodded her wound as my daughter and I winced. The Doctor declared her a non medical emergency and refused to clean it or put a little salve on it....unless we had $280. My husband and I do not have insurance at our jobs as we happen to be 2 of the millions of residents and citizens of America who do not have insurance so our hands were tied. So I asked for an excuse for school...and the Doctor said sure with a lovely smile...if we had $280. So off we went to lovely shiny Walgreens...which I can assure you has no cure for being treated like a second class citizen.

Everything(emphasis on the word thing)is here in the USA. When I lived in New York City I was surrounded by Theatre(I love the theatre)...a decent seat is at least a hundred dollars so to take you and your family is at least 300dollars.How often can you do that? I can't afford that! Plus you work so much here you often don't have the time or are too exhausted to do all the entertainments they have here. Add Winter to that and you really do not want to go anywhere. Plus, what is the use of a thousand baseball games when all you want to see is a Cricket Match?

I do not blame anybody for thinking America is so glamorous. America's attractiveness is based in illusion, Hollywood, popular culture, celebrity, glitz in bulk...mesmerizing. Yet, all you have to do is look at the latest episode of some celebrity show or glossy magazine to see how unhappy people are here, and these are Americans born and grown here with a pile of money. There is something wrong with that picture.

I met a young lady recently who although born here in the States believes there is a lack of compassion and care about people here that makes her uncomfortable and unhappy. She is looking to Europe for relocation. Her parents who gave up all they had in India to live here think that she's mad. So maybe the grass will always seem greener, but I have seen first hand that it is not, and I am glad that I have discovered this while I am still fairly young and have the strength to move back home and work towards my goals and dreams, same as I would in America. So with all the material stuff that is here... jackmandora...mi nuh choose none...I'm coming home.



At 8/19/2008 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful - now you just need to get this posted in the Jamaica Gleaner, so you can educate some of these people as to real life in the US.

Proud to be home 5 months now.

At 8/23/2008 5:28 PM, Blogger masvirgin said...

I hope you realize that what that doctor did was illegal. You should not let that slide.

At 8/23/2008 11:52 PM, Blogger Freedom said...

I agree with Mackdiva and Fwade. However I truly believe it is important to travel and experience different cultures first hand.

The most important question is do you have a PLAN? Immigrating is one thing; but what do you want to achieve from doing so. If it is to make money then plan and plan very very well. If you want to start a complete new life. Always remember that there will be pitfalls.
Every country has its own set of issues; however the scenery is different.

Unfortunately if you are not educated i.e. have a bachelor degree or are medically qualified, and you migrate to the USA, Canada or the UK. You may find it more difficult and will have to do menial jobs. In the USA you may have to work two or even three jobs at a time to get by. The UK you don't see where your money goes as it is so expensive.

However it is all an experience so whether you choose to leave the beautiful island of Jamaica or stay. One will always have peaks and trough moments. The key is how do you over come your obstacles? That would be for you to answer.

I have decided to return to Jamaica as I have a lot to offer my country; and I would like to do this while I am young and not at retirement age.

At 8/24/2008 8:01 AM, Blogger themackdiva said...

Hi freedom...I congratulate you on your decision to move home to Jamaica. I am right behind you:0)
I totally agree with you that people should travel and learn about other cultures. It is my firm belief that travel is the greatest education as it keeps the mind open and expansive.
However, migrating and becoming an Immigrant is a way different kettle of fish.
So, my main concern is for people who migrate to the United States in particular, who have a well made plan, and by all appearances have executed this plan, but are still unhappy.

Some Jamaicans migrate to America well educated, ready to start a new life, and do achieve that career, house,and nice car and then realise that they could have had the same success at home by applying the same hard work in Jamaica as they apply here in the USA. These Jamaicans feel rootless and transient because although they have material success, family, friends,culture, compassion, and beauty of surroundings are missing.

Some Jamaicans come to attend college and stay far too long as they latch onto the grand American Dream scheme forgetting home in the process, yet wondering why they are miserable.

The very poorest Jamaicans who come here to work several jobs and put themself or children through school may come to benefit the most from the American experience. At least in the BEGINNING. After the ripping and running and getting things done to help themselves and the material success is acquired, they too feel something is missing and yearn for home.

And I am here to encourage everybody who feels that yearning to move back home because the longer you stay the harder it is to go back.

Now for those Jamaicans who are thinking of becoming an Immigrant in America(And you will always be an Immigrant) I say...BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.(Usain Bolt is the perfect example of blooming where you are planted)
I think that when you shine where you are the whole world notices, and you will get invited to different places, and when the party done you get fi go home!...I am telling those who are longing to migrate because I wish somebody had told me that.

America is a big dreamcatcher. That is its greatest talent. People come here from all over the world and hand over their talents, their lives, their souls, their children to it, and their lies its power. If it was not for all of us Immigrants it would be just a large piece of land.

Jamaicans are so wonderful and talented and have so much heart that it is way past time that we used our powers to make Jamaica greater and not somewhere else greater.

So I say come and see and experience, go to school, travel...get a taste...but please don't stay too long.

At 8/24/2008 8:22 AM, Blogger themackdiva said...

Hi masvirgin...first thank you for your concern.
I did not fill in all the minute details as my comment was already lengthy but it was explained to me by the Medical Administrator (the Doctor left the room to get the Administrator after I kept asking why, why, why?)that if my daughter was to be treated then I would have to sign a paper to say that I believed my daughter was having a medical emergency even though the attending Doctor said she was sure she was not. Hence the big bill.
Not to worry my was just another spur in my side to remind me of the compassionate medical establishment back home.

At 8/24/2008 4:45 PM, Blogger fwade said...

I wrote a post on this blog almost two years ago entitled Healthcare -- Or the Lack of It, based in part on my experience of breaking my shoulder here in Jamaica.

In short, I pay about 15% of what I paid in the US, the price has remained the same for 3 years, and I know all my doctor's names, consider them friends, and we now have LOTS of common acquaintances... Wow.

At 8/24/2008 4:47 PM, Blogger fwade said...

themackdiva -- drop me a line if you ever have an interest in becoming a contributing writer to this blog! Your talent and thinking are wonderful, and I have appreciated your willingness to share.

Maybe there is scope for a more formal role?


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