Repatriation to Guyana was a bittersweet experience

Dear Editor,

I was prepared to expect reverse culture shock. I never imagined coming home after living abroad so refreshing and fun. What happened to the person, aka me, who was fleeing a supposedly unhappy existence? What changed? Is it the place or me who sees things differently? It has been a process of adjusting, understanding reverse culture shock and remembering that repatriation is not easy. Every day is an adjustment, but I’m happier every day.

This story describes how I returned and how I am coping at home after years abroad. I thought for many years of returning to Guyana. This is why the subject of repatriation will always be close to my heart. I love to hear the repatriation stories of others. It’s so interesting what they go through, what they struggle with, and what they find out about themselves when they get home. That’s why I decided to write my story. Since the dawn of time, people have moved from one country to another. Every military veteran has had to repatriate after their postings, sometimes bringing with them their visions and dreams of war, adding to the stress of life on their home soil. Repatriation as a concept dates back to the dawn of time.

Ruth van Reken, co-author of Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing up between Worlds, says that “every transition involves a loss…even when there is a gain.” Coming home was difficult. “More people are finding returning home a more difficult transition than going abroad,” writes Alan Paul, author of Expat Life in the Wall Street Journal.

One of my biggest issues with coming home turned out to be the realization that everyday life just wasn’t as exciting as life in America. Once all our eggs are lined up, what will we do with all our free time? I spent two years touring the jungle and experiencing all that Guyana had to offer. I will always miss America. I will always be grateful to have the opportunity to live there. I will always appreciate the knowledge and wisdom I gained from this experience. I ended the adventure with a lack of regret and an understanding that you only cry for something you love. I will be back, for vacation or medical treatment. Until then, I feel good and good about myself, wherever I am.

Editor-in-Chief, countless times I have been asked why I was repatriated to Guyana. I’d love to say it’s because of the countless money-making opportunities in Guyana, but that wouldn’t be true. I am satisfied with the money I earned. I’d love to say it’s because of the hot weather, but that wouldn’t be true. I’m from Florida (the sunshine state. I’d like to say it’s because of the slower pace of life, but that wouldn’t be true. I lived in rural Florida, which has a slower pace of life slower than the big city I would like to say it’s because of the nice people but that wouldn’t be true I would like to say it’s because I was born here but that wouldn’t be true. I’d love to say it’s because I’m a patriot but that wouldn’t be true I’d love to say it’s because I spent my formative years growing up in Guyana but that wouldn’t be true I would love to say it’s because I love my country but that wouldn’t be true I’d love to say it’s because I haven’t found a better country to live in than Guyana but this would not be true Why was I repatriated to Guyana?

I am repatriated to Guyana because I see that there is a greater need for my service here than anywhere else. In Guyana, more people need my help. Guyana needs more unpaid volunteers. Guyana is going through a moral, economic and spiritual crisis. Guyana has many problems and people in need. Guyana has a lot of starvation and a lot of broken and hurt people. Guyana has a lot of desperation and hopeless people. Guyana has a lot of struggling and poor people. Life in Guyana is a big fight. Simply put, I came to Guyana because I want to help and make a difference. One of the benefits of living in Guyana is the memories it brings back to me of my first days here. Every day I pass the primary and secondary school I attended here. I see houses I lived in and streets I walked on as a child. I see friends I went to elementary school with. I see the cemetery where my father is buried. I hear music I grew up with. I eat food that I grew up eating. I don’t think there is a place in the world I could live that would bring back so many sweet moments and memories. This is why I love living in Guyana.

Editor-in-chief, I am by nature a reflective, contemplative and introspective person. Living here helps me to be more contemplative and introspective. It brings me back to thoughts and memories that I had long forgotten. The things too painful to remember, I chose to forget but it’s the laughter I remember. Living here brings back not so pleasant memories from my childhood. Memories too painful to hold. Memories of being abused by some teachers. Memories of going to school hungry and dropping out of high school. Memories of bullying and shame at school. Memories of growing up in one of the most violent villages (Albouystown) in Guyana. Memories of growing up in a broken, fatherless home. Memories of feelings inferior to those of others and memories of feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Editor, living in Guyana has been a bittersweet experience. Bitterness recalls bad childhood memories. The sweetest thing is being able to see how far I’ve come. I overcame the obstacles, against all odds. I am a survivor because I survived. I fostered a better life for myself. I did it professionally and personally despite the disadvantages of growing up poor and disadvantaged. The repatriation to Guyana was a good and a bad experience. I still believe I made the right decision and encourage others to do the same. The stay in America was extraordinary and wonderful and I have no regrets.


Anthony Pantlitz

About Leah Albert

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