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The Immigrant Experience | Saying goodbye & learning to belong again

When I was in first or second grade, I remember one day when my older sister and I were alone at home, waiting for my mother to come back.

As always, my sister did something to piss me off. But this time, instead of crying or getting mad, I decided to leave.

I said – I’m running away from home!
Forget about seeing me before 2pm! (I think it was 1:15pm).

I took a blanket, wrapped it around a broomstick (I think I saw this in a cartoon somewhere), put an apple and a slice of bread with cheese inside the blanket, and I left the house.

I sat on a bench outside on the sidewalk, waiting for the time to pass, minute after minute, looking to see if my sister had come looking for me. I tried eating the bread but it was too stale. (I already had lunch, but I figured that’s what kids do when they run away from home.) I waited there for what seemed like forever.

When I finally got back home – I think it was 1:35 pm – needless to say, my sister hadn’t left her room throughout this whole time, let alone checked to see if I was okay.

So, that was my first experience leaving home.

The second experience was a bit more substantial – it was when I moved out of my parents’ home and got my own apartment at the age of 18.
The third experience was when I left my country and immigrated to the U.S….that was just a couple of months before the planes hit the World Trade Center and changed the world forever.

And there, I was REALLY alone.
No cell phones, no computers, no email…
This time I wasn’t able to simply hop on a bus to visit mom and dad, or just go back upstairs.

I often think about the reason why I decided to leave everything behind and move to a different country.
I once read a quote by Warsan Shire that says “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

Home wasn’t the mouth of a shark, but as a 21 year-old, it wasn’t far away from it in my mind.
But whether you do it because you have no choice, or because you’re adventurous, the price you pay when you choose to immigrate is high, and there are many challenges along the way. But there are also gifts and magic in that decision. And I’m so eager to explore that space even more.

Recently many of my students who are immigrants have shared some of their struggles with me. It wasn’t necessarily related to English, but their experiences as immigrants has definitely affected their English and ability to communicate.

It got me thinking – knowing what I know about living away from home, trying to immerse in a new culture and language, AND seeing the experiences of many of my students – how much of our English is affected by our external circumstances?

All of that is intriguing to me and needs to be discussed. This is why, over the next few months, we’re starting a project called The Immigrant Experience, where we’ll share stories and address challenges that immigrants experience. And not just English challenges, but real life struggles, since at the end of the day they affect our confidence, the permission we give ourselves to show up authentically, and the joy of communicating.

In today’s episode I’m sharing more about our motivation for this project, what we’re planning to do, and how we can help you if you’re an immigrant or planning on immigrating.


Hey, welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 182. Today we are going to talk about the immigrant experience.

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode of the InFluency Podcast – because you’re in fluency always in fluency. And you also influence people with your fluency. Just a quick reminder of why I named the podcast this name. And obviously, you already know this. So, it’s just me stalling a little bit before we begin. Anyway.

Today I am going to do something a little different as you’ll see. Because I’m not going to be teaching anything, but I’m going to be inviting you to join me on this new project that we’re taking for 2022. When I’m recording this podcast, it’s the end of 2021. And I am planning on doing a short review of the things that I’ve learned this year, so stay tuned.

But in the meantime, I want to talk to you about what we’re planning for 2022. Because as you know, we try to keep it interesting for us and for you. And one of the things that I’ve noticed, and I do talk about it in the episode itself, but in this intro I just want to tell you why we’re doing this. One of the things we noticed is that when people immigrate or relocate or even travel for, you know, more than two weeks somewhere, there are things that come up in that entire experience that impact their communication in English.

And oftentimes, it’s perceived as if the problem is with English. But we forget that it’s the entire experience that affects our ability to communicate confidently. Whether it’s in a different country than the country that we grew up in, or even, you know, at work, if you’re totally immersed in a new culture or a language that is not your native language. You know, you will experience that.

And we wanted to dive deeper into that conversation. We want to talk to people who have experienced that, with immigrants, with experts, and that is the plan for 2022. And in this episode, I’m pretty much inviting you to join me on that journey and share your story. If you were an immigrant, if you are an immigrant, if you’re planning on immigrating, I want to hear your story.

So, this is an invite for you to share your story with us. Let’s listen to today’s episode. Thank you so much for being here. And just a quick reminder that if you like the podcast, I would so appreciate it if you could rate and review it on whatever platform you’re using: Spotify, iTunes. I know there are more platforms, but these are the top two. And that’s it. Because that would help the podcast reach more people. Thanks in advance.

All right. So let’s listen to today’s episode.

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we’re going to do something slightly different. Because today I want to share with you, what is the project that we are going to focus on in 2022 to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. And this project is going to deal with immigrant experience.

Let me explain. Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of students from around the world, and usually people have different needs for why they want to improve their English, whether it’s for personal reasons or just for fun, or because they have to work in English and they want to improve. Maybe it’s for school. And sometimes it’s needed for survival, especially in the case of immigrants who have immigrated to an English-speaking country.

Now, over the past few months, I’ve noticed that in my signature program, New Sound, there were a lot of students who have immigrated to an English-speaking country. Now, all of those students had, of course, different stories, but they also shared a lot of similarities in their experience in the new place that they have moved into – new, sometimes not so new place – but also similar challenges in their English communication.

And this is what we realized: that English is never just detached from your entire experience as an individual and a human in this world. And when we understand those connections, it’s much easier to solve a lot of the challenges that we experience in different aspects in our lives and, in this in this case, in English communication.

So, what I want to do in the Immigrant Experience project, is to go a little deeper and try to understand that experience. Because at the end of the day, you know, each immigrant has a story to tell. Whether it’s about what they had to leave behind, what it took for them to get to the new place, the challenges that they’re facing, their bravery stories, and so much more.

And what I’ve come to learn is that those experience impact immediately on the person’s ability to communicate in English or the person’s beliefs about their capabilities in communicating in English. And I think that we need to open up that discussion and try to understand that a bit more.

Now, the way we’re going to do this is throughout the year, we are going to share stories of immigrants that will talk about their challenges and how they were able to overcome those challenges. We will bring guest experts to help you understand how to deal with microaggressions and micro inequalities – things that immigrants often experience when they move into a new place. That need to belong, how to be a powerful communicator, how to get a better job or to interview better, and so many other things.

And to do that, I actually need your help. If you’re an immigrant or maybe you’re thinking of immigrating to a new place, I want to hear your story. I want to hear, what are your obstacles? What are your challenges? What are your success stories? Because, first, I would love to give you the stage to share that on this platform, whether it’s on my YouTube channel or the InFluency Podcast, the InFluency community, or on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway. But also, I want to see if you have any questions for me, or share with me what you think we should talk about within this discussion #The Immigrant Experience.

Now, if you’re not an immigrant or you’re not thinking of immigrating and you just want to improve your English for work or fun, do not worry. We are definitely going to continue talking about learning strategies, and effective practice, and mindset, and pronunciation, of course. But we definitely wanted to add that element and start that conversation about the immigrant experience.

So, I’m really looking forward to this. I can’t wait to hear what you think. Thank you so much for being here. And I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
182. The Immigrant Experience | Saying goodbye & learning to belong again

If you’re NOT an immigrant – don’t worry! So many of the things we’ll share in this series are also relevant to everyone, not just immigrants.

For now, you can watch these videos where I discussed the experience of being an immigrant with guests and students:

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8 Responses

  1. I highly preciate your effort, Hadar. I always watch and listen to your videos when I have free time. Thank so so much!!!

  2. This is absolutely necessary to me to learn English language with you.
    I would like to say thank you for your work hard

  3. This is wonderful.
    I would like to say thank you Hadar.
    Your work is very teachable.
    I am reading and listening your post. Because I have travel to abroad many times for preaching. And I have plan to move to USA. So your teaching is very useful.
    God bless you very much !!!
    With regarding.
    Fekadu Desta Arifo.

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