Race-work, Race-love

The Importance of Returning Home: Home-Going Services and Ecuadorian Heritage

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2012 at 11:44 pm

For some immigrant families, a home-going service includes the decision to actually take your deceased loved ones to their place of birth — their first home. This means there are two funerals: one in the US and another one in the country of origin.

Families make very difficult decisions — who stays behind to take care of family in the US and who goes to make sure people and funeral services are taken care of in Ecuador. Emotionally and financially draining, this double “home-going”  can also be a way to reconnect with family members who you never met but who know all about you; filled with legends of how your family came to be about; and a realization of who then takes charge of the third generation in the US. Members of the 1.5 or 2nd generation is the connection between the first home and the second home; the old world and the new world;  the past and the present.

The future — also becomes this generation’s responsibility.  Which values from the old world gets taken into the new world? What knowledge is preserved, which legends get passed on — also fall into this generation’s hands. Studies show that the first language often gets lost in the third generation and signs of that loss begins with the second generation – we may be able to speak our mother’s language but we may not be able to write it. And what about the love — the love and the courage it took for that 1st generation to leave all things and people behind in order to secure a complete change in the family’s trajectory.  Where does that love go, how is it transformed?  

The responsibility of those of us in the second generation, then, is huge.  If we are aware of that responsibility, we can document that family cultural wealth in both the mother tongue and the second language. The values that got us here in the first place do not have to be lost.  And the love can be preserved and transformed to ensure that it envelops for many generations to come.

Unfortunately, tese are the stories that many will never hear or know about, and those of us who are aware of these testimonios — well, we often do not document them… A home-going service, thus, means so many things and not just saying goodbye to a loved one.

Bittersweet Ecuadorian-American moments…

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