Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Out of America

Few weeks ago I've received a phone call from a number I didn't recognize.  Quite frankly if I knew who was calling I would've most likely let my voice mail get it and then never called back. A friend from Poland with whom I parted on bad terms was reaching out to make amends. He was leaving America for good and making his final goodbyes. His dreams of America was over.  As I listened to his story, this person I have not spoken to in years, I realized that we shared some of the same fears and frustrations. America is not always the most welcoming country. Sometimes, try as you may you will not make it here. Many of us, walking Americans will still feel like aliens and alienated. Although you're here legally, you're  from somewhere else and you always will be. I remember many law students from my country who after the initial excitement of wanting to try it in the Big Apple went back, often defeated. They come here, as did I for a one or two year course in comparative law. It limits their ability to sit for the bar and practice to only handful of jurisdictions, New York being one of them. Unlike my peers I've stayed and fought hard to be accepted to the Juris Doctor program. This gave my the same entry level education my American colleagues have. If I so desire, I can sit for any bar in any state and if I pass, practice there. I was made aware a long time before that even in jurisdictions that allow for international degree holders to work as lawyers they are often treated by employers as second rate attorneys. Part of my logic behind going back to law school, although I could've moved to New York and like many others eventually get it, was to give myself the edge.  My friend of course didn't have it. He said in his circumstance making it in the profession was difficult. But then, I'd say in the job market crisis it is and will be difficult for everyone. He was tired. Tired of the American big city mentality, tired of making a living, but only month to month, client to client, not enough to really have a structured life. Tired of being far from home and tired of having to make a home in a strange place. Tired of wondering what the end game is. Can you really shut the door on a life and a family somewhere across the big pond? Tired of being reduced to the role of a lawyer and a go to person in the Polish community alone. Tired of living in the city where only some can afford to be. The decision to go back was obviously not an easy one. He's spent many years building a life and a career in America. All that work and energy is not an easy one. He started a family here. Again, a major factor to consider. Can you sense the desperation in wanting to undo the last five years of your life? It's not as if your previous life waited for him on pause as time stood still. It will be that much harder going back. But then, he has more options that I ever had. Poland to him was never this hostile land that hindered his growth and considered him a liability. He can go to Germany or France or UK. Europe can be a wonderful place. I share some of his feelings. I'm torn between my family that I miss and love and a place that at least offers me a glimmer of hope. Maybe that's what all first generation immigrants feel. But  my considerations are different.  Don't you think I don't want to spend time with my nephew and niece and eat my mother's cooking? Perhaps, like him I will never be at home. But for as long as I have the energy to try and fight I will do my darnedest to make it a reality    

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