Why did some people stay behind? I don’t understand. Why did your families choose to stay and mine didn’t? Did your countries offer perks if people stayed? Free land? Free stuff?
You can ask the same question to all Eastern Europeans who are in their own countries today. After all, Eastern Europe in general is experiencing a massive demographic collapse (my country’s one of the fastest disappearing nations in the world, and the others aren’t too far behind either), especially those of us who are in the EU and can thus move much more freely.
I mean, my aunt’s been living in Czechia for probably more than a decade now. A whole bunch of family friends from our church moved to the States since the 90s. Almost half my high school class currently lives in the States, Germany and Austria. Heck, even I myself am often being asked by other (especially older) Bulgarians what the hell I’m still doing here. I don’t really know though – maybe I’m lacking in courage or maybe I just can’t bear to leave my home (“the stone weighs in its own place”, as we say).
Besides, for each story of American success, like your family’s, there are probably tens, if not hundreds of stories about failure (or worse). Just recently one of the main news here was about some Romanians and Lithuanians being rescued from a British farm, where they were treated basically “as modern slaves”. And that’s a real risk indeed, even though it’s supposed to be just a seasonal job, let alone if you’re moving without anyone you can trust to back you up until you can stand on your own feet in the new environment.