“The fear is not of leaving, but of no longer belonging”


Human Wrongs Watch

Alejandro’ story is part of the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) series: “i am a migrant“.*  Alejandro’s country of origin is México and he currently lives in Rwanda – 14,184 kms from home.

Alejandro: Photo from IOM 

“I was born and raised in Mexico. From a young age I was interested in faraway lands, attracted by their different languages, picturesque landscapes and buildings, food and traditions. I studied International Business, and during this time I had the chance to do a couple of international exchanges to the United States.

This was the first time I was experiencing such exposure to the world, with colleagues, classmates and roommates from all around the globe, eager to share their culture and learn about mine. That sparked the wanderlust in me, and I knew I was not going to stay in my country for too long.

When I graduated from university, I decided to move to Morocco, a country I knew nothing about. I found an internship there. Guided by travel books and websites, I prepared myself for a year of unexpected discoveries.

In this new place that has so few similarities to my home country, I got lost among the flavors, colors, smells and sounds. Putting aside my occidental ideas and preconceptions helped me learn that what one considers to be the normal way is in reality just a different way.

I made good friends in Morocco and, for the first time, I missed speaking my language. When my time there ended, I moved to Spain and made it my home.

In Madrid, such an open and welcoming city, I found a place to explore and push my limits and ended up not only falling in love with a new country, but appreciating my own and gaining a whole new understanding of what it means to be Mexican.

I found a job as a business journalist that allowed me to travel and live in countries across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America and the Caribbean. In each of these places I gained something, but I also left a piece of myself behind.

With all this reshaping, the fear of no longer fitting in emerged whenever I came back to where I started. When you arrive in a new place, you meet people with whom you establish bonds, you develop routines, and discover your favorite spots. You find your place – until it is time to move on.

This has also taught me that goodbyes don’t get easier, and bittersweet emotions follow you to the next destination.

As time passes, the nostalgia about Mexico increases, but each time I go back I feel more like a visitor in a place that, in my eyes, refuses to change. The faces are the same, the rhythm and the vibe too… but I am not.

And even though I am filled with joy every time I am in my home country, I can’t help but perceive these visits like just another stop on the way. But my family and friends are there, as well as a unique folklore and the best food I have ever tasted, and these are all reminders of a strong identity with which I can relate and that I am proud of no matter how far away I might be.

I am a migrant and I am happy to be one. My roots in Mexico hold me strong, but they do not hold me back.

Whenever I decide to go back and settle in my home country, I will have a place, even though I would have to readjust to it. But I know it’s not yet time to return and as long as I can still go to new places, I’d like to continue being amazed by new worlds.

Through my personal views and based entirely on what I have had the chance to experience, I like to encourage people to dare to break past their personal borders. It is unbelievable what can happen when you explore new horizons and embrace what it means to be a stranger in a foreign land.”

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