Claire Brouillard, Undeclared, BMC ’25

This photograph speaks to me because it brings me back to Alma del Mar, where we learned about the stories of migrants. Listening to these stories was incredibly moving as we got to connect the things we were learning in class to the faces that were standing before us. Through these oral histories, I gained a better understanding of how difficult migration is even after one
has settled in the United States.

The panelists described how isolating it can be to live without family and to dream of going back to Mexico knowing that they might not get the chance to. They also described how living in a place where Spanish is commonly spoken, such as South Philadelphia, helps to foster a sense of belonging as they adjust to life in the United States. The panelists’ stories strongly connected with the readings and films we have discussed in class. We have read many texts that describe how isolating it can be to migrate to the United States and how many migrants dream of returning to Mexico. We read about casas vacías, which are empty houses that get left behind in Mexico while their owners migrate. Their owners hope that they will one day be able to return to their empty homes while migrants’ families and loved ones maintain the empty houses. Hearing the panelists discuss their desire to return to Mexico and how they know many people who never got the chance to do so elevated my understanding of these readings because I was able to connect the stories of migrants with the factual accounts we had read. This gave me a deeper understanding of how badly migrants wish to return home and how important these casas vacías are.

This photograph personally speaks to me because it represents gaining a deeper understanding of migration. Migration is not something that is very openly discussed in my family despite the effects that it has had on many of my loved ones. For this reason, I enjoyed hearing migrants’ stories and connecting them to the little information that I know about my family’s immigration history. In doing this, I feel that I can better understand the struggles that my family members have gone through. This makes me even more thankful for the strength and bravery of my ancestors because their perseverance through the hardships they faced is the reason that my family is here today.