Maria Reyes Pacheco, History, BMC ’24

This photo speaks to me for a variety of reasons. The beautiful Katrinas stick out in their bold
dresses and intricate headpeices. Then there is our class, standing in front of El Rey del Taco before joining the parade along with the Katrinas. It shows how we were able to not only hear from and learn from the South Philly community but also engage with it and be a part of their celebration. The celebration itself you can tell is an expression of resistance and joy. You can see this both by the vibrant colors but also the smiles on so many faces.

In our own class, we have learned why resistance and joy are so vital to the Mexican-American community, and immigrant communities at large. A large part of this is due to the sense of diasplacement and unwantedness that Mexican migrants have felt since their early arrival to the country. A part of this is a result of the United States’ xenophobic and racist immigration policies that show that they see immigrants as expendable. Some of the ways they resist are by building communities and creating ways to celebrate their culture and pass down traditions. The Día de Los Muertos festival was an exact representation of this. In the pictures you can see so many children and years from now these are memories that will make them proud of who they are and where they are from in the face of outside pressures.

I love seeing our class in the pictures because it shows how this trip and course as a whole
were extremely personal for so many of us. Many of us are first-generation immigrants
coming from either Mexican-American or Latinx communities. Being at a private white
institution, we can sometimes experience a sense of nostalgia and unwantedness so the
festival was a reminder of how strong our community is and how we are also a part of this
celebration. This course has taught us a lot about our history and our parent’s stories. We feel
seen and recognized, something that is not the norm in the US education system. I am beyond
grateful to Professor Montes and everyone that helped put this trip and course together.