Everyone knows that immigration is a hot topic in the United States right now. Personally I have not yet made up my mind where I stand on the issue but there are several things I do know. Since the fall of 2012 every Wednesday I have been going to a trailer park in Warsaw, IN to teach English. I was roped into it by a friend at school and because I speak both Spanish and English I figured I could be useful. Plus I missed Mexico dearly and this was one place where I could stay involved in my own culture. When I started teaching we only had three ladies attend all of whom were Mexican immigrants. At this point I did not know how they had come but I knew they needed to learn English in order to function well in the circumstances they had chosen. We teachers not only taught them English but also built relationships with them by eating snacks together after every class and having parties together to celebrate American and Mexican holidays.
Several teachers came and went; we even had a time where we only had two ladies came regularly and I started to wonder if this was worth it anymore. But the eagerness with which these ladies learned English and the fact that they and I were in a different country than our own kept me going. I needed them to remind me of where I came from just as much as they needed to learn English. Slowly, in the spring of 2014, we grew to a steady four ladies. They worked hard, asked good questions, and contributed to the classes by bringing snacks for everyone. Fast forward to the end of 2014 and all four ladies continue to come and I picked up a certain class.
As a senior I was able to choose an independent study where I could decide what I wanted to do. I chose to focus on Mexican photographers in history but I had to find a way to make it relevant today. I am a Mexican but not a Mexican in Mexico. So I did the next best thing: Photograph Mexicans in the United States.
After being in contact with these ladies for over two years and meeting one lady's house I learned a lot about them. It became apparent to me that they were just like other people who love, laugh, live, and strive to do the best they can with what they have. Unfortunately the stereotypical view of Mexicans in the US is quite the opposite. People view them as poor, greedy people who are trying to take jobs away from Americans and take advantage of America's wealth without giving anything back. This is simply not true. But for now these Mexican immigrants are people just like the rest of us.
My purpose with this project is to give a face to Mexicans living in the Unites States, often happily, with families and jobs. Look forward to future posts when I will share pictures and more stories about these wonderful women! Please feel free to comment below and share!