Expat Musings New York City Pack the Suitcase & Go

A Moment with the Statue of Liberty

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During our trip to New York City, I made a specific point of trekking down to Lower Manhattan, heading out with coffee in hand for the Staten Island ferry to grab a view of the iconic Statue of Liberty.  Although I’ve viewed the lovely lady before, this time was just different.

 

Now, I look at the symbol of the Statue of Liberty just a bit differently as I have picked up my life to live as an immigrant in a new country.  In fact,  I found myself a bit overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. Gratitude for my home country, for being a beacon of hope for so many immigrants over the years.

 

While we were on the ferry, I remembered a few of the words of the poem on the statue itself.  But, my memory was lost so Google (and Claire) came to the rescue.  The poem I kept thinking of was The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus.  Reading the poem, while sipping my coffee and catching glimpses of the iconic woman brought me waves of emotion.

 

Viewing the magnificent statue had me think of the millions of immigrants who sailed by, and what kind of greeting that must have been. To leave a native land for opportunity and a fresh beginning, heading towards the virtually unknown.

 

And then I began to think of my immigrant story.  From my Italian and Polish ancestors who arrived in America with dreams and hope in their hearts.  To present day, where I have now taken the word of expat, or really immigrant,  as a title of my own.

 

I had a moment of emotional empathy that is difficult to really describe, let alone write here on the blog. In a moment, I understood the feeling of fear and of risk, of the unknown for those immigrants 100 years ago to modern day expats living life in all corners of the globe. Now, just like 100 years ago, modern immigrants and expats find nearly the same reason to begin in a new land: job opportunity, fresh start, family or (as in my case) love.

And I know that I am not the only one who has picked up life to start anew because of a love story. I wonderfully receive messages and e-mails from readers who are either in a long distance relationship or about to embark on the visa process, asking for help. Although I can’t lend too much advice, I can give support and encouragement.

Is it scary? You betcha. Is it riddled with confusing rules and paperwork? Of course. Do I feel homesick or culturally and geographically lost? All the time. But, I will say that being an expat, and living in a new country, I have learned to greet uncertainty at nearly every turn. And for me, over time the risk of the move has become less and less, and has turned into one of the best decisions of my life.

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So as I stood in the freezing wind on the ferry from Manhattan to the Staten Island I had a moment with the iconic Statue of Liberty. I reflected on how much I have grown into my life here in the United Kingdom, and how I feel so humbly grateful for the life Neal and I have set course for. And just for fun (and for your reference) I have included The New Colossus poem which is engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

 

The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Whew! Tell me, fellow expats and immigrants…. have you had a recent moment that help you to see how much you have grown? I’d love to hear from you!

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