Migrant Projects

San Mateo County History Museum, Land of Opportunity: the Immigrant Experience in San Mateo County exhibit 

San Mateo County Historical Association (2020). “Land of Opportunity”. Retrieved from https://historysmc.org/immigrants

These exhibits include migrants from all over the globe. These include Japanese, Italians, Chinese, Irish, Portuguese as well as Mexicans. This is extremely significant as the visitors to these exhibits can experience multiple cultures. It is important to note that this museum is located in Redwood City, California. America has always prided itself on being a melting pot of cultures and this museum highlights that very accurately. Within the exhibit, it highlights various migrant cultures and allows viewers to fully immerse in their culture and get a better understanding of the day to day life of these migrants. By telling the history of these migrants, we are able to keep their voices alive and not allow history books to hide the struggles that they faced after migrating to the US.

Minnesota Immigrants

Minnesota created a database that allows people to learn of the stories of their migrants. Overall, it covers many stories from immigrants from all over their state which allows audio and video histories to be shared and accessed by many. This is a very crucial database considering that migrants are able to post their stories directly, without allowing a third party to edit their stories in order to be published. Moreover, more people are able to learn about their experiences because the site offers video and audio storytelling which allows those who may not be able to read in English to still understand.

Asrat, Mussie (2015). “Mussie Asrat”. Photo for Minnesota Immigrants. Retrieved from https://immigrants.mndigital.org/exhibits/show/immigrantstories-exhibit/item/580

We learned of Mussie Asrat who is an immigrant from Eritrea. She tells us of a special coffee maker called a jebena. It “is made of clay and has a circle base, a long cylindrical neck, and a curved handle”. This differs greatly from the traditional American coffee maker as they aren’t as detailed and made from plastics instead of organic material such as clay. She elaborates on how it takes 2-3hrs to brew Eritrean coffee, which is an art in of itself, unlike an American coffee maker that is finished in 20 minutes. Every Sunday after church her family and friends always pulls out the jebena and enjoys Sunday coffee together. During these coffee dates, her family and friends frequently discuss how much they miss the old times being back in Eritrea with the same coffee maker. However, they can always rely on the jebena to bring them all together to make new memories. Even in the United States after they’ve immigrated.

Castillo, Kim (2014). “Kim Castillo”. Photo for Minnesota Immigrants. Retrieved from https://immigrants.mndigital.org/exhibits/show/immigrantstories-exhibit/item/490

We also learn of Kim Castillo who tells the story of her father immigrating to the United States from Bien Hoa, Vietnam when he was really young. What is fascinating about Kim’s story was the fact that her father actually built the boat that carried him along with many others to the US by himself. Kim tells of how her and her father would always spend much of their time together bonding in the kitchen. He used to teach Kim how to cook an abundance of Vietnamese food together which is how she has maintained her Vietnamese culture. As a mother now, she continues to carry on cooking traditional Vietnamese dishes with her children too.

Manzanar National Historic Site

National Park Service (2018, January 12). “Manzanar National Historic Site”. Photo for National Park Service. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/places/manzanar-national-historic-site.htm

This historic site is built in Independence, California by the United States government during World War II. Its sole purpose was to provide housing for relocated Japanese Americans. The significance of Manzanar is uncanny in United States history. It encapsulates the freedom of 120,000 people, half of which were not even 18 yet. Much of this history is buried through abandonment and lack of preservation, however, the National Park Service protected this site. Despite most buildings already destroyed, much of the remnants remain today such as the orchards, gardens, ponds, and some of the housing areas. This allows a staggering amount of people to stay educated on the violence and lack of humanity that lines American history.

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