The American Expat, In America


Like this luggage, sometimes I linger in the sunset at the crossroads of whether or not it’s worth picking up the baggage and moving on. (Credit: Flickr user: C.M. Keiner)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my post graduate school place of residence. There are days that I would like to spend that time in Greensboro around my many friends. However, on other days I feel like my talents could be better used elsewhere. I would set sail on the high seas and I’ll never look back here save visiting family. But many other days I’m in the middle. Should stay in Greensboro and keep working with the system to make changes or leave Greensboro and go be an ambassador for the cause of building Greensboro?

This last sentence is an idea that’s been bandied around by Aaron Renn and several others. Renn’s version is the cultivation, sometimes by the original city’s chamber of commerce, of alumni groups for cities. The idea goes something like this. Say I went to DC. I would get together with the Greensboro Former Residents Group. We would dine on Stamey’s Barbecue, fight over Tobbaco Road bragging rights and take special trips home for the Wyndham Championship golf tournament. We would get tickets for the ACC tournament at the Verizon Center. Most importantly, we would have a special fund for scholarships for Greensboro resident high school students to go to college in DC and we would help recruit businesses to Greensboro. With this being a DC club, we’d probably have political sway too.Your alumni group would and should look and feel different.

I brought this idea of American expats up to say that its ok. Boosterism only goes so far if you can’t get a job in your hometown. Right now, I have my schooling and a nice job with a nonprofit to hold on to. However, if things change or a better offer comes somewhere else, I’ll once again leave my hometown and go to where that opportunity is.

I asked my Twitter and Facebook friends about this idea and got a lot of shout outs along with couple of serious answers.

Asa Yoel(@asayoel) is a student at UNC-Charlotte, but reps Staten Island. He told me via a DM that he felt he couldn’t do what he was doing in Charlotte in Jersey. That something being studying transportation and urban affairs at UNC-Charlotte. Fortunately, Whitney Muse (@arieswym) gave me lots of positive answers about her hometown. Originally from Philly, she moved to Jersey to Rutgers for college, home for a while to work with the Obama campaign, and is now doing grad school in DC and hoping to do international affairs. She has nothing but love from Philly and believes she could have achieved her dreams there. However, with a full-ride to Rutgers, she was taking that and running with it.

The Pew American Mobility report has stated that 50% of Americans do not live in their hometown.  I say this to caution anyone who wants to slam their hometown, either for no opportunities or slam others for not staying in a place. I find that entrepreneurs can make it anywhere, while those who need the structure of an office are at the whim of where the jobs are.

I am not sure where I am on that yet. Meanwhile, if I ever decide or get an opportunity to leave, I would. However, I’ll be proudly carrying a case of Natty Greene’s beer and talking to anyone who will listen about the opportunity to go to a wonderful city in NC with five universities, cheap office space and nice homes and history.

  • Always a difficult decision whether to stay or leave your hometown: The American Expat, In America – via @blackurbanist

  • Awesome post! 

    • admin

      Thanks, I think this is something many of us can relate to.