Where is HOME?

This is one of those questions I really struggle to answer and I can only predict that as time goes by, and the balance of years I’ve lived in the country where I was born and raised, Venezuela, have become less than the ones I have lived in the United States it is only going to get more challenging to answer. To me, it feels surreal that it was twenty-five years ago TODAY that I told my dad that two years were going to go really fast, while he bid me farewell at the airport as I embarked in my “Going to get a Master’s in the US and will be right back” Journey.

My parents knew far too well what was going to happen. They were immigrants as well. My mom was only 10 years old when her family made a 30-day ship voyage from Sicily to Melbourne, Australia in search of a better future. Ten years later she would return to Sicily only to meet my father a few years later who proposed to get married and go chase luck in Venezuela. 52 years later they still live there. Their love and gratitude for the country where they grew their family are so big, that despite the incredibly difficult socio-political circumstances, they resist moving back to their homeland.

My mom has always defined herself as a ‘citizen of the world’, and while growing up I could have never related to the expression, I sure can now.

While I am proud of my Birth Country, I have never been able to say that I am Venezuelan without explaining that my parents are Italian. Why? Because the Italians that immigrated to South America when my parents did (1950’s) did everything they could to make sure that their kids were raised with their own culture, traditions, and language. To my parents, it was very important to have us spend the entire summer back in Italy which only made us a bit ‘more Italian’. My friends back in school would call me “MAFI” (with the unfortunate and erroneous misconception that being Sicilian means you are somehow linked to the Mafia). In Venezuela we were “The Italians” and in Italy, we were ‘The Americans’. No wonder I struggled with the question of Where’s HOME from the get-go!

As destiny had it, by staying in Miami for a quarter of a century, marrying a Dutch man, and giving birth to two US-born kids, I managed to make the question of Where is HOME, even more impossible to answer. I admit it that it hit me when I saw my Kids recite the “Pledge of Allegiance” for the first time. It made me think of how my parents might have felt the first time they saw me sing the Venezuelan National Anthem. It seems unimportant, but I assure you, it makes the difference between you and your kids very real in a very unexpected way.

Leaving your own country is never easy. On one hand, you will never return to what you left behind. Not fitting in your own country anymore is a hard pill to swallow, no matter how long ago you left it. On the other hand, no matter how kind people are in the country you chose to settle in, you will always be an immigrant, your accent will always be a reminder that you don’t really belong there. And yet, if you live the experience with an open heart and understanding that you can’t impose your own culture and traditions in someone else’s ‘home’, but instead you embrace and honor your host country’s traditions as much as you can, without compromising your own heritage and essence, the experience is an enriching one.

I don’t know if I will ever get to answer this question in a way that satisfies the curiosity of whoever asks, but this is the answer my heart gives:

VENEZUELA is ME, where I was born and raised and where the seed started to grow. No matter how bad the situation is, I will always proudly say I AM VENEZUELAN and I will continue to fight with every inch of my soul for the day where we see it shine again.

ITALY is my FAMILY, where we come from, and the roots of the tree. Being Italian fills me with pride in understanding where my parents are from and the great challenges they overcame to live the life they lived.

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is my kids and the family my husband and I work hard to grow and nurture each and every day. A land of opportunity where the seeds can really grow into a farm. To me, the US is a welcoming host that has always treated me fairly. I also think is the only country in the world that can sell you on the idea that there you can realize the dream of achieving anything your heart desires. I consider myself blessed for the opportunity of having a shot at the American Dream.

As I write this and as so many memories are flashing in front of me, I am coming to the realization that HOME is actually the JOURNEY and not the destination after all. I feel HOME when I am with old friends, in special places, at my favorite band’s concert, seeing my kids having fun, visiting a place that WOW’s me…..or kissing my husband and feeling the butterflies all over again.

Where do YOU call HOME?


Leticia Latino
Leticia Latino
With over 20 years of experience in the Telecom Industry Leticia Latino went from working for Merrill Lynch and Telecom Giant Nortel Networks to accepting the challenge of extending the legacy of establishing her family business in the US back in 2002. Neptuno Group was originally founded by her father in 1972 in South America where they helped deploy some of the first Cellular Networks in the region and where they have built over 10,000 Towers. Leticia is a recipient of the Women in IoT award by Connected Magazine, Revolutionary CEOs by Aspioneer, and one of the 30 most influential Leaders in Tech by Insight Success. She currently serves as a full member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee (BDAC) and as the Chair of the Job Skills and Training Working Group. ​In addition, Leticia is a published author and a contributor in a broad variety of blogs, and her book “Women in Business Leading the Way” became an Amazon #1 Best Seller. She’s also a public speaker, mentor to young women, and a big advocate of nurturing “Human Connections” through her Back2Basics Podcast.

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  1. Leticia,
    This is a beautiful essay and raises the question for so many.
    I do believe you have captured the magic right here: “I am coming to the realization that HOME is actually the JOURNEY and not the destination after all.”
    As your Mom said – YOU are a citizen of the world. You are truly blessed.

  2. The last alinea says it all beautiful! You are being! Our society puts so much pressure on having an identity living a reality. But both are only in the mind. Its not what we are. Having an identity living our reality creates the suffering. Because the mind gets so afraid of losing it. What we are really seeking is our true self. Our infinite nature. That will make us feel home, at ease and in peace so much more! We are not a definition. We are our infinite self. A being with old friends, a being in special places, being at your favorite band’s concert, being love and joy seeing your kids having fun, being bliss when visiting a place that WOW’s you…..or love kissing your husband and feeling the butterflies all over again. What a beautiful realization!

  3. Leticia: Wonderful reflections on your (troubled) homeland, it must be incredibly difficult for you to see the situation in Venezuela, (little Venice), and especially how different things were very recently. When we lived in Colombia we saw Venezolanos on the streets of Medellin every day, asking for pesos, for food, for sustenance. We tried always to help them, and we could see the pride they suppressed as they begged for themselves and their children. Here’s hoping that someday Venezuela will once again be a shining star in South America,

  4. Beautiful reflections here Leticia,
    I like your mother’s idea that we are citizens of the world. I truly see humanity as my family.
    I’ve learned that Home is where I always am, my body is a house for my spirit and when that spirit is safe, secure and present, I am in the presence of contentment.
    A house is just a house, a home is in your heart. Life is a journey but living is in the travelling. My destination to find that great room in my heart, where my spirit shines bright has brought me to a place where I now keep that switch on and feel most secure, no matter where I am. I am happy within and that is finding home… no matter where I am, my home is with me. No matter where I go, if my internal house is valued, I can make it anywhere.
    Finding love, in yourself and out, is the journey of love, that we are born with. The destination is just going to happen, that is fate. The travelling it takes to get there is the part where we learn, it is always in our heart and special memories we carry our home with us.

    Thank you for this beautiful article that made me think more of what my home is and where some housekeeping is needed 😀🙏

  5. You remind me Leticia of Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth. In particular “it is the land we came in and the land we must go out”.

    You also remind me of my eight-day visit to Sicily and volcano Islands with all the great memories it brings back to me.

    I experienced the same with living in different places and people relating me to three different countries. Therefore, I feel your post and it touches my heart.

    I liked how you described your feelings towards Italy, Venezuelan.