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To all the migrant workers

Written by Daniel Otero

Being far away from home during the holidays


By: Daniel Otero



Under the glittering-neon lights, as tourist pack Macau for a holiday of entertainment and gambling…


One might ask, “What about the migrant workers?”


Those who can’t go home or share with family during Spring Festival.


This is after all, the most important holiday for Chinese all over the world.  Celebrated from the capital in Beijing and going as far as the local Chinatown throughout Western countries.


Most have to agree with me, being away from home during the holidays is the toughest thing which anybody can go through; especially when a person is working and trying to progress in life.


Politics aside, whether the opportunities are in mainland China or along the great islands of Hong Kong and Macau, one thing is certain, all these migrant workers deeply feel the frustrations of being lonely and isolated.


For guys like Matthew (originally from Guangzhou) and Wayne (hometown of Dalian), working in the service industry in Macau, it can get tough.  They’re the ‘Y’ and millennial generations thread setters throughout China and abroad.


Their feelings spurt out like a wave of emotions–even more because of their youth.


Matthew is quiet, solemn, deeply thinking what Spring Festival means for him.  He comes out with a simple, “Family!”


For Wayne, a chatty, happy-go-lucky guy, he smiles, “Man, you know, it’s a hard feeling!  While everybody is back home celebrating as I Skype, I’m here,” referring to work and responsibilities!


This is Spring Festival, the year of the golden Rooster and they’re feeling China’s rapid-progressiveness.  These two young men have begun their careers.  However for them, it’s more about having an opportunity which possibly their parents never had.  One is to make more money, quality of life and travel.  Realizing how much their parents had to sacrifice for them, now it’s their time!


But it’s still the holidays and things can get emotional.  Far away from home and tears begin the welt-up in their eyes, most of all for Wayne; since he’s furthest away from home.


Because for a communal society like Chinese, everything special and important evolves around the family and love ones during Spring Festival.


Having these precious moments to share with family, friends over steamed dumplings and enjoy the warm-culinary delights of different dishes.  And the main priority is to enjoy in this once-a-year experience.


It’s the largest, most importantly-celebrated holiday on earth.  It doesn’t only engulf the 1.4 billion Chinese across mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.  It has a deeper meaning for all Chinese who are migrant-workers or live abroad.


The lines of communication begin to open through phone and internet; as the fireworks, family cheers and congratulations come through in a wave of love and excitement for the New Year to come.  Signifying hope!


But on a good note, for Matthew, though he won’t be celebrating with his family, he’ll still be surrounded by the love of friends.  For Wayne, this year he’ll be receiving his parents in Macau during the Chinese New Year.


With this said, regards and best wishes this year to all!  Success, health and happiness always!


Dedicated to the migrant workers.

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.