Updated: Jan 8, 2019
The Exhibition includes 3 Sections that follow the "course" of immigration:
- The Decision to Immigrate
- The Travel experience and first settling efforts in the Host Country
- Adaptation and Integration, or, Refusal to accept the "New Homeland".
The exhibits in every Section include narratives and artworks that convey the truth and emotions behind different steps of immigration.
Section 1: The Decision to Immigrate
The decision to immigrate is unique to every person, to every family. How this decision is taken, however, is influenced by the traditions, attitudes and the "culture" of every nation.
In Bulgaria, the decision will be taken collectively by the family; usually the mother left, to test the ground, and the others stayed behind in the hope that soon they will be able to join and reunite the family.
In Romania, parents decide, and often leave their children behind if they are young, to their grandparents or orphanage.
In Poland, the man of the house makes the decision to immigrate alone, to fulfil his obligations to the family as breadwinner; the family usually stayed behind, living on the money sent.
The cause for immigration is the same: for reasons outside their will or power, people cannot survive and their children have no future in their own country. They decide to migrate to ensure the studies of the children, a more comfortable life for all, maybe to build a home. Or, alternatively, to prepare the ground and secure the conditions to reunite the family in a new homeland.
Separation is always a traumatic experience, especially when accompanied by uncertainty and fear of what the immigrant would encounter in a foreign country.
Section 2: The Travel experience and first settling efforts in the Host Country
The journey to the foreign country, the often illegal border crossing conditions, and the first experiences of seeking and securing work are a tough trial for the immigrant.
The difficulties in communication, due to the language barrier, creates tensions, misunderstandings and exacerbate the prejudices about the foreigner, the "other" in the host country. The immigrant's personality and real potential generally underestimated.
There are many testimonies in which, with some bitterness, it is noted that the local people "have occupations" while the immigrants will "do what they can lay their hands on".
Section 3: Adaptation and Integration, or, Refusal to accept the "New Homeland"
Settling in, adaptation to the new country and integration determine the next stage in the immigrant's path. The immigrant decides whether to invite the family to reunite in the new homeland; and the family decides on whether to follow.
Also, homesickness puts the immigrant to another test: children who grow up without their mother or father, the celebrations that are always special at home, familiar smells and tastes, the idealised "warmth" of the town or village where they grew up, create a "barrier" between the immigrant and the new homeland. Will the immigrant accept the new homeland or refuse it?