Leslie Torres, Sociology, BMC ’24

I chose this specific image from our trip to South Philly because it was a moment in my culture that I never got to learn about growing up. I can’t remember a moment where I was in class and learned about myself but I knew plenty about the history of how the colonizers set sail from Europe and how they conquered the supposedly “New World” that was North America. When the reality was North America had always been there with its own inhabitants living peacefully undisturbed until they were conquered and with a majority of their history lost. They thought the Native Americans were primitive even after they taught the white man how to plant and harvest crops to survive. The colonizers were mentored by the Native Americans who learned to live and respect the land. This has become a recurring theme we see in the history of America. Americans will condemn the very work they are dependent on to live comfortably.

Joining the parade on Dia de Los Muertos was exciting, confusing and inspiring. I enjoyed smelling the incense as I walked alongside the dancers and the attractions in the streets. I chose this particular scene because at the time of the parade I didn’t understand what they were doing; It was only after the Aztec dancers came and performed at my school did I understand that they were asking the mother earth for permission to dance or closing, thanking mother earth. When they performed at my school I sat right in front of them, and when they encouraged us to participate in the ritual I felt an enormous pressure to take the lead on how everyone sitting behind me should participate because I was the only Latinx student seated at the front; so initially I felt anxious and timidly raised my hands to mirror the traditional dancers to pray and ask for permission for them to dance from the North, South, East, West and from Mother Earth. And as I watched them dance I felt motivated to raise my hands and get lower to the ground and feel the earth beneath me as they were doing. I felt the more confidently I participated the more natural it felt.

The Field Trip to South Philly easily connected to the course because it was the most validating class I have taken as a result of the history of immigration I’ve learned. The discussions in class created an opportunity to relate my experiences with other students and validate my own identity. This image represents the themes of Nostalgia and Homemaking practices immigrants have cultivated and nurtured in order to maintain their culture and re-create a small version of what their community was like in their Native countries.