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Where is Home? The Dilemma of a First Generation American

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Agnes Scott chapter.

I often ask myself, where do I fit in? I live a western lifestyle, or as my cousins like to say, an “Americanized lifestyle.” But at the same time, my roots lie within my country back home. I remember when Richard Blanco came and spoke at Agnes about two years ago, he asked himself, “Where is home?” He followed it up with another question and said, “Where would I want to be buried?” Ever since then, these questions have been on my mind.

Whenever I speak to my extended family, I realize for them their home will always be the motherland, despite starting lives in other countries. But where is home for me? I was born and raised here in the States so wouldn’t that make it a no-brainer that home for me is actually America and that I’m going to act the way that “Americans” act? However, when people ask me: where are you from? I always have to answer in regards to where my parents originate from because, apparently, a brown person can’t be from America.

My parents came all the way from another country to foster a better education system for their future children. I’ll always be indebted to their sacrifice, but to what extent is that pressure also preventing me from doing what I want to and making me sacrifice things in order to honor their legacy? Every so often, I question myself and I end up more confused than ever about the displacement that has occurred to me as a first-generation American, and especially as a first-generation college student. Although my parents brag to their friends about my sisters and my accomplishments, it contradicts itself because they always compare us to others. Despite being seen as “the others” to people, they create the other barrier within our own community. So again, where do I belong?

Although I do not belong to anyone or anywhere, I am still accountable for so many things, I am held responsible for different people within a unit. I’m responsible for handling things like technological advances, bills, sisters, cousins, etc.. The list goes on and on, I’m expected to place family as a priority but at the same time keep in mind that my education is also a priority since they’ve sacrificed so much. But what happens when both mesh into one, who gets hurt more than the other? Every time I accomplish something, I’m furthering myself from my parents because of the barriers that they’ve created. Those accomplishments of mine, aren’t even considered mine, they’re considered theirs because I would’ve never been able to without their sacrifice. Therefore, I live a life trying to honor that sacrifice, it’s a double-edged sword. Needless to say, it’s a burden.

I know for my parents, home will always be their motherland and of course, that is where they would want to be buried. But for me, I can only foresee myself here. So why would I want to be buried back home? Is it to be with my parents or for my future family? How do I answer the question, “where are you from,” without having to explain myself? My life here will be spent to honor my parents sacrifice thus forming my own legacy but at what point am I able to make decisions for myself.