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imns



Finally at home as an expat


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:47:00 01/29/2010

Filed Under: Human Interest

THE YOUNG BLOOD ARTICLE ?That Expat feeling? by Jamina Vesta Jugo (Inquirer, 1/16/10) evoked a bit of nostalgia for me. My first language was Polish, but English was all around us, as was French, when I was growing up in the east end of Montreal. These three languages were also used during Masses at our local church of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Hogan Street.

But I left Canada for sunny Australia when I was 24 and, after 31 years, returned to Quebec to see my brother. The weather was unseasonably bitterly cold in June 2000 and there was little I could recognize of my neighborhood; and my beloved aunt?s place had been torn down, replaced with a sausage factory. The past is not another country, it?s just not there anymore. My relatives are scattered everywhere and hardly ever keep in touch.

But my son was much impressed with the Metro and I was glad to remember it as still being the iconic classic artwork of a revitalized city back in 1967 when it was host to Expo 67.

Where are my roots? Somewhere in Poland but I?m a Quebecker at heart as well as a Canadian who happens to be an Australian citizen who?s married to a Filipina and is thus allowed to live here as a permanent resident.

I used to feel like an expat once, almost 700 days ago, but the word itself implies a sort of ?exile,? whereas in reality I feel very much at home here although not really as much as my wife, who?s a local. My son is a bit bemused by it all, but he can pronounce ?Gingoog? heaps better than I can.

I think, feel and dream in English, but my deepest yearnings may still be Polish and I can identify with the aspirations of a once-enslaved people who now live free.

New York photographer Diane Arbus said, ?What I have never experienced before, that?s what I recognize.?

And what I recognize in Ms Jugo?s article is that same sort of feeling, at once familiar and at the same time alien, but only because it?s something never felt before but seen through fresh eyes. So I?m not really nostalgic but astonished at seeing life through the eyes of my wife?s people, astonished at the vitality and wonder of it all.

?WALTER P. KOMARNICKI,

langka958@gmail.com



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