Do you think your ex-patriots abandoned their country or duty?

Patrick asked:
I would suggest that ex-patriots (Americans living abroad) are viewed as individuals unhappy with the US, its policies, cultures, whatever. I had a good Russian friend when I lived in New York. She was young when here family immigrated, but they lived in a largely Russian neighborhood. There are many families like them, especially in NY. Do you (or perhaps your countrymen) view them in a particular way? For example, do you think them lucky for leaving Russia after the fall of the USSR? Do you think they abandoned their country or duty? Is their more nuance I'm not thinking of?

Hello Patrick!

Everything I see around suggests there are two types of emigrants.

First, people who embrace new culture. Children easily fall into this category. Some adults, too. I’ve got some replies from ex-Russian Listservians recently. They do not write in Russian, only in English because they claim to be lazy. I guess it’s not about being lazy, it’s about enjoying your new culture. When you deinstall Russian keyboard from your laptop and think/dream in English, you must feel like a different person, do you agree?

Second, people who build ‘Chinatowns’, ‘Small Russia on Brighton-beach’ etcetera. They need to nurture their previous culture to play safe. They swim in new waters with caution, speaking mostly with ex-compatriots, reading same books and web resources they used to read before relocation. They reject possibility or learning new language. Elder people tend to live like this. And small social groups.

I’ve seen ex-Russians in Israel. I’ve seen ex-Indians on Philippines. I see spanish-speaking Americans in TV series. It’s quite the same with every culture, in my opinion. You just choose one side.

I have no hard feelings to either of these groups but I do see them differently. First ones, they seem to me not very Russian now so I don’t think of them like ones. Second group, I feel a bit sorry for them because they actually didn’t move anywhere, they’ve just built another comfort zone and defend their lifestyle. They have new things around and yet they keep doors shut. I've seen Russians in several Indian states who hated to meet local people (Russiand live there in winter because climate is nice and prices are low). It was disgusting. I don't approve of any xenophobia.

But people relocate because of many things. Have you heard of Philosophers’ ships?

Some people try to find a place where grass is greener; some feel so bad here and they want some kind of freedom and coziness. Some have no choice. I understand that. I do not know which country I’d choose if I had to leave (like Nabokov did). I hope I wouldn’t need to choose just one.

I don't think country can make a person lucky. At least not in our world with commercial flights and mobile internet. A city could, a language could, a feeling of inner peace could. But not just country.

I’ve thought about duties also. Have you known most Russian classic novels were written outside the country? Great writers rested on Riviera writing masterpieces. I guess the only duty is being a nice and honest person who works a lot. At least people will think better about country that bred you!

This post is an answer to one of The Listserve replies I’ve got.
You can ask your question, too.

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