Shiza Ranamagar, Sociolgy, HC, ‘24

Throughout this course, we’ve discussed the long history of oppression of Mexican migrants. Migrants have always been perceived as commodities, never as human beings, and so, they have always been mistreated. We have seen how emotional and traumatic their journeys to the U.S. have been, and the hardships that they constantly undergo from the time they decided to leave Mexico to navigating the U.S., sometimes alone. In particular, reading about the traumatic effects of the Bracero program was difficult because families were separated and Braceros were abused and never given adequate compensation.

Although I genuinely enjoy going to this class, our material is usually extremely heavy
and it often leaves me feeling disheartened. However, while on this trip, I was filled with so much joy. Every part of it felt so magical. The minute we stepped off the bus and onto 9th street, I was ecstatic to see the overwhelming amount of cultural diversity. The streets were filled with Italian markets and restaurants, Asian restaurants, and Mexican markets and restaurants as well. The streets were lined with vendors of various ethnicities as well, selling fresh produce. The restaurant we went to, Alma Del Mar, was beautifully decorated for Dia de los muertos. There was also someone singing in Spanish, and my heart was just filled with so much joy. The people dining there looked like locals and looked so happy and at peace.
This photo stuck out to me because it encapsulated this trip well — from the ethnic restaurants in the back (like the Taqueria) to the people walking in the parade. It was absolutely beautiful to see people dressed in traditional attire, as well as indigenous attire. What I loved even more was seeing non-locals walking and celebrating with the locals.

This trip encapsulated the theme of resistance, which we’ve been discussing a lot in class.
For migrants, resistance comes in various forms. For instance, Roxanne discussed crossing the
border and how migrants surviving in the desert that was meant to kill them, was a form of
resistance. In the film Adelante, it demonstrated how Mexican migrants recreate cultural events
that used to be celebrated in Mexico, such as Quincineras, weddings, and as seen in this photo,
Dia de los muertos. Furthermore, Medina discussed the political economy of nostalgia, which
involves having a space that evokes memory of one’s home country. 9th street certainly evoked
this sort of memory because there were so many Mexican restaurants and markets that carried
traditional foods, clothes, records, and other products. In addition, the vendors and owners were Mexican or Spanish speaking as well.

This trip meant a lot to me. It reminded me of my home, Queens, NY. I haven’t been home for a long period of time. But being in this space, I truly did feel at home — the culture, the music, the diversity, the smells, and simply the coexistence of different ethnicities. This is what I call beautiful. When I first came to Haverford, I experienced a huge culture shock. I would try to escape by going into Philadelphia. I was trying to find a connection to NYC, but I was constantly disappointed because I kept going to Center City, and didn’t embody the diversity of Philadelphia. However, this trip made me realize that Philadelphia also has a boisterous (im)migrant community and I find that absolutely beautiful.