I thoroughly enjoyed the following two articles written by Jamaicans living abroad and published in the Daily Gleaner. Kudos to the authors for injecting some well-needed reality into the false impression created by visiting Jamaicans that "everything a foreign is sweet."
Tips for migrants to Canada published: Saturday | March 8, 2008
The Editor, Sir:
In response to the letter 'Migrant facing reality in Canada', many English-speaking immigrants face a difficult time when first they move to Canada. Immigrants who are not black, but are also not white, may find it easier, as many companies are owned or have senior management who are of South or East Asian background. These groups have excellent social networks.
The social system here is complex. You will find that the cities are multicultural, but the more multicultural, the less tolerance for others who are different. It will be hardest on parents at first, but your children will fit in more easily and eventually you will too.
Regarding employment, before emigrating, it is necessary to research the potential demand for your skills. Do not rely on Can/Prov governments projections as these do not usually represent current needs/wants of businesses. Further, some skills sell differently in some provinces/territories. For e.g., currently it's the trades and engineering that are in demand in some places, medical persons throughout, and retail in others. It can be difficult to get into some jobs, e.g. accounting, without Canadian experience, even if you are starting entry-level. As for degrees, a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for the vast majority of jobs here. Employers look more to your experience which leaves a lot of the well-educated frustrated.
Do not give up unless you do have somewhere better to go. Consider going back to college to get a Canadian certificate; they tend to discriminate against all others, including those from the USA. Always remember, Canadians are not as open as Americans - they just like to project themselves as such.
I am, etc.,
LETTER OF THE DAY - Living 'a foreign' no bed of roses
published: Saturday | March 8, 2008
The Editor: Sir,
Growing up in Jamaica, I often heard the phrase uttered by many that 'foreign is no bed of roses' I used to get angry at individuals who, in my mind were only saying this to discourage other Jamaicans from going to America, giving them the impression that life is difficult there. Up to this point where I am now living and working in the United States (US), no one could tell me that life was not much better here than in Jamaica. In fact, living in America was my dream and no doubt the dream of countless Jamaicans who still hold on to the notion that America is still the best place to live.
I will not for a minute deny that there may be more and better opportunities for young people here. However, people must realise that opportunities must be sought wherever you are. It will not just come and fall in your lap. I must also admit and make it clear that you have to work twice even three times as hard here as you would the same job in Jamaica. "Mi neva work so hard inna mi life!"
A different experience
Living in the US is a completely different experience. Would I come back to Jamaica to live now? Absolutely! I now realise that indeed foreign is no bed of roses as I used to hear others say and do I agree! For me and I guess for many Jamaicans living here, I feel like I am not living, merely existing. Life is or can be very monotonous and downright depressing. Especially if you live in those states affected by winter. Frankly, this place is not fit for human habitation in winter. Try spending a day in your freezer and you will know what I am talking about!
I guess what I am trying to say is that I would rather be in Jamaica, with all the crime and violence, with all the so-called poverty and everything else that others seems to be running from. There is no place like home. America is not for everyone. If I knew that I would still be extremely homesick after eight years living in the States, that I would feel so incomplete and yearning to return home every given minute, I probably would have made a different decision about relocating. I would have stayed in my country and made the best of my life and my situation. I would have been more grateful being a Jamaican and living in Jamaica. I wouldn't be so critical of everything, and eager to leave.
A blessed country
Jamaica is, as we say, a blessed country. There is this sense of freedom and happiness that you experience there. I am not saying that there isn't a lot of problems and that things are not very difficult for many Jamaicans. What I am saying is that it is not much different here in the US, Life is just as difficult for many, especially if you do not have a skill or a career. You have to fight and work just as hard to make ends meet and to be successful.
My advice to the average Jamaican that still thinks that America is the answer to their problems is that you are in for a rude awakening. Work hard and build your country. Try to make a difference in whatever way you can. You have it good and you don't even know it. Jamaica is still the best place on Earth to live. Ask any Jamaican living a foreign.
I am, etc.,
Brooklyn, New York