Column Willy: Migrants us all

The benefits of migrating come at a price: not being with your loved ones.
Columnist Willy

Last week, I found myself on the phone with my mother. At some point in the conversation, I dared to say: ‘Mom, I am not sure what I’m going to do with my life when you are gone’, to which she replied: ‘You must go on, as everything in life does’. This conversation made me reflect on the feelings migrants like me, like you, like us experience when leaving home.

Deciding by choice to migrate from my home country Panama to the Netherlands has meant both fulfilment and burden, an undeniable duality of migration. I am convinced all of us migrants can relate to the yearnings for a better life, better education, more professional and personal choices for a promising future, or even just the excitement of living in another country.

Deciding by choice to migrate from my home country Panama to the Netherlands has meant both fulfilment and burden

Moving abroad certainly make us grow through exposure to different and more diverse environments, it teaches us to cope better and faster, and it gives us a more thorough understanding of the world. All those benefits come with a price, the sacrifice of not being around the people you love. I think one of the most difficult realities to face while being abroad is to be physically absent in all meaningful moments or festivities where memories and new emotions are created. Physical absence makes one inevitably confront the effects of time on your loved ones, ageing.

Nevertheless, being able to choose to migrate is already a privilege that not everyone can afford, especially in our world where masses of humans are being secluded and annihilated against their will. So, whenever you feel homesick and doubt overflows your existence, remember that the sacrifices are worth it, that you are fortunate to be able to execute your willpower to choose to be where you are, and especially don’t forget that ‘Wherever you go, go with all your heart’ (Confucius).     

Willy Contreras-Avilés (34) is a second-year PhD candidate in Horticulture and Biochemistry of medicinal cannabis, from Panama. He likes to dance (perrear), cook Italian food, and swim.

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