I've lived in Israel and the United States on and off all my life. To me living in another country for a long period of your life was normal. My friend did the same thing in Singapore, another one in California. I never thought of it as immigration, never thought too much on what it meant to immigrate to another country. But upon closer examination I realized it was ingrained in me.
My great grandparents immigrated from Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary to Israel, the United States and Australia. My grandmother immigrated from the United States to Israel. My parents, aunts and uncles immigrated from Israel to the United States, some staying here until today, some going back to Israel after a few years, and some immigrating a second time years later. It's no wonder that the same need to go off and explore, expand my horizons and experiences in the world were passed on to me.
My whole life I've been torn between Israel and the United States. Whenever I was in one country, I was missing the other. I'm a legal resident in both countries but I still felt like I was an immigrant, a foreigner.
"Why do you have such an American accent?"
"How do you pronounce your name?"
"You're not a real Israeli."
I'd always grow frustrated with myself. I'd think you're so privileged, so lucky to be able to freely go in and out of any country without a second thought. But even that ability didn't change other people's mindset of who I was.
In America I'm always a foreigner and in Israel I'm always "The American".
I realized I will never be able to change others perception of me and I can't let what they think influence who I am. I’m a hybrid, a unique collaboration of different cultures and experiences. To me that was more interesting than calling myself an American or an Israeli. I’m the result of generations of immigrants, who wouldn't sit still, wanting to make the most of their time on earth by exploring it further and search for a better life.
So, I'll follow the path they carved out for me and make the most out of it.
Amit Lerner, Assistant DP