By: Hailey Durno ’12
Each day we walk past hundreds of people all with different faces, different looks, and most importantly different stories. Everyone has a story to tell; how they got to where they are, where they came from, and where they plan to go. This is what first sparked my interest in this project. I wanted to look past people’s exteriors and into their stories. Through interviewing different migrant workers, I aimed learn about their experiences, how coming to the United States has shaped their identity, and how their identities have shaped the communities around them. In addition, I wanted to explore how people in communities do not look past exteriors and how many communities are shaped around fragmentation rather than commonalities. These immigrants’ stories reveal more about these people and this knowledge can create connections between people who previously may have thought they had nothing in common with the other.
After reading What is the What by Dave Eggers over the summer, I began to piece together some questions that I knew I wanted to ask the migrant workers. Going into the first interview, I thought it would be easy to ask the questions, get the answers, and write the immigrants’ stories. After interviewing Alex, I realize it was so much more. Each question led to another, and then to another taking the interview on a completely different path than the one I had imagined it would. I learned so much about this person in front of me in such a short amount of time, but even then I had only scratched the surface. This is when I realized I wanted to focus on the human element of immigration and less on its political aspects.
Though I couldn’t just base my project on interviews, I had to have some fact and base for my conclusions. After sifting through much political literature about immigration, I finally found key sources, which have allowed me to draw connections between the immigrants’ stories and the academic world. With the help of my advisor, Mr. Abel, I was able to focus on three main aspects, identity, community, and the distance between the ideals of inclusion and the reality that policies, regulations, and laws create. After finding an academic base to launch my project , I began to form my own conclusions taking the raw material from the interviews and combining it with the information I had collected. From there I was also able to form conclusions of my own.
In all, the interviews will allow many to see past the mental and physical barriers, such as stereotypes and barriers, and see the connections between themselves and many of the country’s immigrant population. You can see these similarities through an immigrant’s stories and in turn these similarities will hopefully allow you to create an overall more integrated global community. In the end, these stories are windows into opportunities. Opportunities to learn more about people who have lived through so much, are able to give us a new perspective, and have amazing stories to tell.