17570_271157950389_610085389_4993495_1710493_nHi! My name is Emily Schwartz, and I am a sophomore here at Tufts studying Anthropology, English, and Film Studies. As I embark on my second year as a Jumbo, I am eager to sink my teeth into another semester of learning and self-discovery. My first year at Tufts was all about exploring new fields, challenging myself to take risks, and seizing every opportunity that came at me. The experiences that I gained by doing those three things are what shaped my goals for this upcoming year, guided me in selecting academic concentrations, and probably what landed me on the roster for Urban Borderlands this fall.

Much like the experimental nature of my freshman year at Tufts, my entire life has been one great balancing act. I was raised primarily in West Hartford, Connecticut, just fifteen minutes outside of Hartford, both the “insurance capital of the world” and one of the poorest and most dangerous major cities in the United States. Spending time in and around Hartford throughout my life has given me valuable exposure to immigration, and has opened my eyes to the impact a receiving community has on an immigrant’s integration experience in America. In contrast to the poverty-stricken Hartford, West Hartford and the other neighboring suburbs of Connecticut’s capital are wealthy. This disparity is an alarming issue that is often overlooked, and makes the Hartford area a place where I would like to return in the future to apply my study of Anthropology and community-based research methods for the benefit of my own childhood community.

Growing up, I was encouraged to try a lot of different things, and I developed interests in many areas: Sports, dance, art, music, cooking, animals, film, writing, and academics. I was heavily influenced by my two older sisters, who were and continue to be my greatest role models. It was by their example that I became motivated to excel in school, and I tried a lot of the same things they tried outside of school. I also have two younger sisters, placing me smack dab in the middle of five daughters, and indeed I am the “middle child” of the family in all of its stereotypical implications. I’m known as the “artsy” daughter, the “crazy” Schwartz, and even as the rebel. Living under the shadows of my older siblings, I was the first in my family not to graduate Valedictorian or Salutatorian from high school, I opted for classes like AP Art rather than AP Biology, I was the first daughter who did not go to (or even apply to) the College of the Holy Cross, and I continue to live up to my “black sheep” status by being the first not to choose the pre-medical track in college.

While I did consider becoming pre-med, I was more naturally compelled to courses that focus on active citizenship, the importance of which attracted me to Tufts in the first place. I took an Anthropology freshman seminar called “Immigrant Cities,” a class that challenged me to think deeply about issues surrounding immigration in the United States. The topics we read about and discussed really resonated for me as I thought about what I’d observed of the immigrant population within the Hartford area where I grew up. “Immigrant Cities” gave me a better understanding of immigrants and the struggles they often encounter, and an introduction to anthropological fieldwork in Somerville.

I loved my Anthropology class so much first semester that I decided to continue working with the Professor during the second semester. I worked closely with The Welcome Project, the LIPS Program, and in particular “YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City” by participating in field transect visits, craft workshops with LIPS students, and developing relationships with the immigrant owners of a few of the restaurants participating in the YUM Project. I worked more specifically on the filmography of the project, gathering footage during all of our programs and events, as well as capturing in-depth interviews with some of the restaurant owners. I used all of my footage to create a documentary piece that I was fortunate enough to present to representatives of the Tisch College and the Anthropology Department at the end of the semester.

I love to be involved in the community and to engage in learning outside of the classroom, which is why I am so excited to get my hands dirty this semester in Urban Borderlands.