The choice to leave one’s home country should be respected
When talking to my friends, I often hear them say things like, “if Sarah Palin is elected, I’m moving to Canada,” or “the people in Italy are so much friendlier.”
I myself am guilty of complaining about the quality of coffee in the United States compared to the quality of coffee in Germany. Complaints about the U.S. are a popular topic of conversation, whether those complaining are serious about leaving or not.
Many Portland State students are not interested in staying in the U.S. once they are finished with school because they do not view the U.S. as ideal and want to leave when they get the chance. Though the students who have studied or lived abroad have more specific ideas about why they want to leave the country (or expatriate), many of those who have never left the U.S. are also interested in moving to a different country.
What sparks such a large interest in emigrating from a country that so many foreigners are eager to come to? Though the people growing up in the U.S. are more fortunate than the people growing up in Ethiopia, in a number of ways the people who want to leave the United States also have valid points.
“The real value lies in the relationships and good will we hold towards one another. I can find that on an individual level here, but not a societal one,” said student Erin Watters, who spent her childhood in New Zealand and has visited since. Though she realizes that the U.S. is not a bad place to live, Watters finds it far from ideal and plans to move to New Zealand with her husband.
Many Portland State students do not want to be identified as Americans. They see the attitudes of the locals in other countries they have been to are much more positive.
Jackie Koonce is also interested in moving to another country in the hopes of getting away from the general attitude of society in the U.S. Claiming to be tired of political rhetoric and lack of available health insurance, Koonce feels as if life in Nicaragua would be less complicated. According to Koonce, Americans do not appreciate what they have, which makes them seem spoiled.
Though a general dislike of society in the U.S. appears to be the main reason for a desire to expatriate, and many want to move to another country for career-related reasons, there are other aspects of the U.S. that encourage people to leave, and other aspects of foreign countries that draw people in.
The integration of the Maori culture into history and social studies curriculum is one aspect of New Zealand that further interests Watters in moving there. True diversity is one of Koonce’s interests that fuels her thoughts of moving to Nicaragua.
Though the U.S. seems proud of being a collection of multiple cultures, the fact is that many aspects of U.S. culture, such as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, still reflect the values of the original immigrants from England, instead of being an accurate representation of American culture.
Koonce also expresses an interest in making a difference in Nicaragua with her public health degree, and many other students feel that they will have more of an opportunity to work in their field of study in another country than in the U.S. Some students claim to have considered moving to another country simply for the experience of living in an unfamiliar country and meeting new people.
The dislike of the attitude of a society that the founding fathers of the U.S. would frown upon may be the main reason students find for wanting to leave the country. However, this is more than simply a rebellious need to break free of one’s background.
Everyone who expresses a desire to expatriate intends to do so in order to help people in other countries or to stay part of another culture that reflects their own values more than U.S. culture does. Students who have spent time in foreign countries have clear reasons for wanting to leave the U.S. However, one does not have to have traveled at all for one’s reasons for wanting to expatriate to be valid, instead of rebellious or whimsical.
Instead of being shunned for having seemingly illogical or ungrateful ideas, students who want to leave the country should be respected for their choices. Finding another country more suitable to one’s lifestyle is hardly a crime, and finding other cultures interesting enough to want to be a part of them is a quality that should be praised. Plenty of people feel that way about America, after all. It’s only fair.