Thursday 08th December 2016,

Asian Americans

Returning to the Homeland

posted by Randall
Reverse Migration

Henrietta Lewis returned to India, one of an estimated 3 million born in America now living back in their ancestor’s home country

By Tinabeth Piña
Asian American Life

The United States has been the land of opportunity for many immigrants over the years. So why is it that the children of those very same immigrants are moving back to the homelands their parent’s left behind?

According to Rachel Reyes, the director of communication for the Center for Migration – it could be family reunification, economic or education opportunities.

“There’s a linkage from here to back home,” said Reyes.  “They could be going back because they feel a strong sense of connection to that homeland – there could also be employment opportunity they seek out there.”

Filipino American entrepreneur Bryan Benitez McClelland who now lives in Manila moved to the Philippines from Connecticut because he wanted to create a socio-ecological company that hand-makes bamboo bicycles.

“The decision was really to get in touch with my roots, implement a project in sustainable community development and then I got hooked,” says Benitez McClelland — who founded the company Bam Bike in 2010.

Benitez McClelland is not alone. He’s among the growing legion of Americans emigrating to their parent’s homelands to create opportunities for that country’s citizens and for themselves.

Henrietta Lewis — a former New Yorker and healthcare professional who now lives in India, moved to her parent’s homeland because she wanted to help the country deal with its water sanitation issues, as well as connect culturally to the place she was forced to go to as a child.

“As a 3rd culture kid, I struggled to know both sides of things – I’ve grown up here so I’ve seen the American side of things and I want to see the Indian side of things and understand my family a bit more.  Plus with the type of work I want to do – India is a great place to explore that career path.  I choose to go and see if I could help with the water sanitation issues that exist right now.”

Watch  Henrietta’s story and more on reverse migration here:

Also this month on Asian American Life:

  • Host Ernabel Demillo sits down with Jose Antonio Vargas, the country’s most visible undocumented immigrant.
  • New York is full of interesting ethnic cuisines, Reporter Kyung Yoon explores a new startup helping refugees bring their food to your home.
  • Reporter Minnie Roh meets the world’s oldest master yogi who’s an award winning ballroom dancer, a filmmaker, an actress,  and a WWII resistance fighter who marched with Ghandi.
  • Reporter Paul Lin profiles artist Collette Fu who creates the world’s largest pop-up books, combining photographer, bookmaking and sculpture.

Watch the entire November show here:

Asian American Life is produced by CUNY-TV and can now be seen in syndication at select PBS stations across the country. Check your local listings for more information.

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