This is the first class I’ve taken at Dartmouth that has brought the required texts to life. The Oral History Project allowed me to hear the specifics of a migration story, first-hand, instead of being limited by an author’s rendition of various migration stories. Mr. Salazar’s migration from Venezuela to the United States differs from the stories we focused on in class, one because we did not touch on Venezuela, and two because he did not struggle to integrate into American society. His story is however similar in that he came to the U.S. in search of economic opportunity and an American college education. Although he was unable to attend a college or university, Mr. Salazar was successful because of his hard work, dedication, and determination to provide for his family. The most rewarding part of the project was having the ability to share his compelling story. From day one, Orlando was enthusiastic about the project, even bringing me La Vida, a Puerto Rican ethnography by anthropologist Oscar Lewis!
Orlando’s experience in working with Latino migrants provided insight into the various ethnographies about the first years of Cubans, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. This was particularly true in the telling of his Cuban brother Ivo, a Cuban migrant who was relocated to Massachusetts by a church in Miami, Florida. Unfortunately, Orlando was not pleased by the attitudes many of the migrants he encountered had, but it was interesting to hear about his endeavor to provide financial guidance to those looking to start their own businesses. Orlando encouraged fellow migrants to approach each situation in life with a good attitude, and felt that an overwhelming majority did not understand the necessity of making this a “priority.”
One of the hardest parts of the project was organizing Orlando’s memories, and choosing how and when to add emphasis to each one. I’d like to believe that I’ve highlighted important aspects of his life through audio clips, personal quotations, and visual aid – adding to the incorporation of his voice rather than mine. I’m looking forward to maintaining the relationship that has developed with my newfound friend, a grandfather figure of sorts!