Author Archives: Liv Raddatz

Julia Eaton, Sociology, BMC ’24

Julia completed an alternative assignment and reflected about the documentary “Adelante”

The film, Adelante, provided insight into the lives of immigrants as they migrate to the
United States for the first time. This documentary was shot in Norristown, so we were able to
complement the knowledge we gained from our readings with the personal stories from a town
very near to Bryn Mawr. It was quite beneficial to get to hear and view from a local perspective
how migration impacts not only the immigrants themselves, but also the communities they enter.

Adelante offered a new emotional element, and additional feeling onto the textual information
we have gathered from our class texts. After digesting many stories of hardship and challenges as Mexicans move into the USA, it was quite refreshing to witness a community welcoming these individuals with open arms. Quite often, the rigidity of the Catholic Church is viewed as exclusionary, and unfriendly. This screening directly opposed this viewpoint, as we see Irish American Catholics working with Mexican migrants to build a comfortable and safe space in Norristown. As we watched throughout Adelante, accepting the Mexican families into their church was an act that benefitted all involved. The Mexican families brought their culture with them, and ultimately positively influenced the Irish American community by teaching them new traditions and values. The bond between the Mexican migrants and the American locals strengthened through their equal devotion to their faith and religion. This relationship originated on a commitment to the greater church organization, and the common belief to love your neighbor.

Loving your neighbor and building a community with them requires substantial action on
the both ends of the relationship. The immigrants were brave and vulnerable in sharing the
cultural events and meaningful practices that they brought with them from Mexico. The
Norristown natives responded with an open mindedness towards Mexican culture, and a
willingness to recreate the valuable elements that might make their town feel more comfortable
and safe for their new neighbors. Adelante demonstrates this genuine and mutual commitment to creating community through hard work and shared values of love and respect. We even watched a wedding that symbolized this unification of both the Mexican and American cultures and traditions.

This documentary was very impactful. Seeing the feeling and emotion that is connected
to migration is much more powerful than simply reading a story in text. Most importantly, all of
the themes of family, culture, and values were solidified in this film. Adelante successfully
portrayed the hard work and various factors that go into establishing an integrated and safe
community for people from different cultures and backgrounds. We witnessed the passion and
determination that was essential in developing Norristown into an accepting and comfortable
home for Mexican migrants and Irish American locals.

Paige Schaefer, Computer Science, BMC ’23

Paige completed an alternative assignment and reflected about the documentary “Adelante”

The film “Adelante” follows the activities of St. Patrick’s Church in Norristown, PA portraying the lives of a vast group of church goers. The film explores the lives of an Irish priest, young Mexican immigrants and older Irish members of the church who have immigrant ancestors. The film shows how different communities in Norristown have made mutual adjustments to create bonds of understanding. We see how Americans of Irish descent accept and embrace a new group of immigrants. We also see the Mexican immigrants establish new lives in a foreign country, laying down roots in a place without their own family and support networks. These two groups form relations and intertwine their lives. We see how celebrations from both Irish descent and Mexican descent both are celebrated by each group through the church in an atmosphere of collaboration.

Something valuable to note in this film is the relationship between the two groups of worshippers of the St. Patrick’s Church. There is a mutualistic relationship between the two groups where each group benefits from each other. In the beginning of the film, we see the number of individuals who attend the predominantly Irish catholic church slowly diminishing until the large influx of Mexican migrants start to attend the church. The Mexican migrants help the church to remain popular and have large attendances at events. The Mexican migrants bring life and flourishment to the church. As the film goes on, we see how Mexican migrants benefit from the church and form a community in Norristown. The church creates a space for migrants to celebrate their religious practices in a safe space as well as be a place where migrants can take classes to help themselves assimilate into their new life in America. We see how daily church masses are programed in Spanish and English creating a blend of the two groups.

I believe the relationship between the Irish American church goers and the Mexican migrants in Norristown provide a framework for how all of America should interact with Mexican migrants. Many of the Irish worshippers talk of their ancestors and their ancestors’ struggles migrating to America many years ago. I think the Irish church goers experiencing many similarities between their families and the Mexican migrants cause for the harmony to have such a strong bond between the two groups. Many individuals in America have preconceived notions about Mexican migrants, either of them being criminals or how they will steal jobs from Americans. Mexican migrants don’t want to inhabit the United States, they are here because there is no other way for them to support themselves and their families in Mexico. Key American values are that our identity is a “melting pot” but this melting pot only applies to European immigrants who immigrated to America fifty years ago or later. I think those who do not support Mexican migration need to take a step back and understand why Mexicans are immigrating to the United States. These reasons are very similar to why the ancestors of current Americans migrated. Through this step back and realization a harmony can start to be established and developed.

Estefania Torres, Environmental Studies, BMC ’23 & Saiqian Xiao, Growth and Structure of Cities, BMC ’23

Local Climate Action

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Don Barber

Field Site: Delaware County (participant in the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Local Climate Action Program)

Field Supervisor: Dr. Sharon Jaye

Description of the Course:

The Local Climate Action Program is a structured environmental program that partners students with their community environmental departments to formulate an ethical and sustainable climate action plan. The programming is focused on creating a stronger network within these locations, utilizing knowledge on real world-applications, learning about community development, creating a data-collection and analyzing greenhouse gas inventories, and more. This course serves as an outlook onto social work within and outside the governmental sphere of the local environmental department. The first part of the programming specifies on collecting, organizing, and analyzing greenhouse gas inventories, as well as begin on the initial stages of community outreach approaches.

Praxis Presentation:

Please click here to access the video presentation.

Student Video: Exploring Cultural Fusion in South Philadelphia

As part of their final class project, a group of students in the class went to South Philadelphia to explore what cultural fusion is occurring between different migrant communities. They created a video (below) of their trip to the neighborhood that features an interview with Chef Christina Martinez, owner of the popular South Philly Barbacoa.

By: Jennifer Nguyen, Romelia Guerrero, Amanda Ramos, Becky Yu, and Sylvia Young

Welcome to the Fall 2021 Praxis Blog!

This blog is serving as a platform for students to share their Praxis course experiences and projects with fellow students, faculty, staff, field supervisors and partner organizations. Visitors to this blog can view and comment on individual posts by clicking on the following links (also found at the top of this page) Praxis Independent CoursesPraxis I: Mexican American Communities, and Praxis II: Educational Psychology. Comments are very welcome!

We usually hold a Praxis Poster Session on campus at the end of the semester to provide an opportunity for Praxis Independent Study and Praxis Fieldwork Seminar students to share reflections on their Praxis experience and celebrate experiential learning with members of the campus community and partner organizations. While we are not gathering in-person this semester, we hope that this blog allows us to still come together as a community to learn about Praxis courses and celebrate experiential learning, adaptation and resilience.

In the spirit of community, we hope that you can take some time to view Praxis students’ blog contributions and post your comments!

The Praxis team
Nell Anderson and Liv Raddatz