In 2013, The Atlantic published an interview of the Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat where she spoke about the idea that “all immigrants are artists” because, in order to make a life in another culture, much creativity is needed. As Danticat described, the idea of starting from zero in another place “is like a blank canvas: You begin with nothing, but stroke by stroke you build a life.” She cites imagination and hope that something will come out of the effort as elements in common between immigration and artistic creation.
As the daughter of immigrants, I try to imagine how difficult it must have been to make the decision to leave to then return. And looking back through Danticat’s perspective, my parents, like many others, made a superhuman effort to reconvert themselves and create a stable family. My mother’s creativity to dress her four daughters “well”; until our adolescence, she made all our clothes—by hand, at home, with scraps. My father’s multiple professions: Dositeo was a musician, a watchmaker, a framer, a photographer, a jeweler. Both hoped to give us the best education to forge a better future.
Perhaps we may see in Danticat’s words an explanation for the great creativity of the Galician people. Immigration at the end of the nineteenth century offered incredible contributions to Galician identity from the outside, and those who stayed behind were able to reconstruct their lives with very little and contribute equally. This is inspiration indeed for today’s reality: the Galicia of 16% unemployment (35% among those younger than 25) needs now more than ever the imagination and hope that those Galicians of two generations ago carried on their breast.