Desiree Bagot, Sociology, BMC ’24

Over the course of the semester, I’ve had the experience of learning and submerging myself in what it means to be a Mexican migrant, the challenges that migrants face, and how migrants adapt to living in a new country. Not only have I learned the complexities of Mexican migration, but I have also learned of these aspects from a sociological perspective through the use of readings, films, and most importantly in-person field trips. Learning through a sociological perspective is important to me, because it helps me better understand the process in which things occur and why they occur. It further helps me understand different systems and structures, such as politics, migration, race, identity, belonging, social justice, etc., and how they interconnect in ways that impact certain groups, in this case Mexican migrants, and society as a whole.

This picture shows a group of students and educators that are a part of the Mexican-American Communities course and members of the Mexican-American community in South Philadelphia. During this trip, I had the experience of exploring the Mexican Market, eating delicious tacos, and being surrounded by inspiring and driven peers, educators, and guest-speakers, many of whom are first generation college students and/or first generation Americans. The guest-speakers explained their stories as first-generation Americans, speaking about their experiences initially coming to the U.S., how they settled in Philadelphia, and how they have formed a home in their communities. I have read and watched much about the Mexican migrant experience, but hearing about the guest-speakers experiences, specifically recreating home in the new host society, connecting with transnational families, and engaging in entrepreneurship, was rewarding. One of the guest-speakers, Alma, is the owner of Alma Del Mar, a restaurant in the local community. She talked much about her experience coming to the U.S., the xenophobia and exploitation she faced, and most importantly maintaining her restaurant. The guest-speakers’ stories spoke volume, mostly because it showed that all they wanted was a better life and a better chance at success, so why deprive them of that opportunity?

In the Mexican-American Communities course, I have learned a lot about migrants persevering through hardship and injustice in our readings and films, but hearing about migrants’ experiences first-hand is so invaluable. It is especially inspiring as a first-generation, low-income college student. Having this background can be inspiring, but also challenging. It can feel as though there are times when you could be doing so much more, but you are only limited to the resources that you have. Hearing about the Mexican migrant experience has only further pushed me to fight against the odds and finish my college education, no matter how tough it may be.