I came across this website, and was surprised to find it exists! It’s a great website, listing community events, “community info” like job postings and requests for moving help. Additionally, there’s a comprehensive “Boston Survival Guide,” which offers advice on housing, on education, finding a car, as well as providing some cultural overview of Boston.
I walk in with a smile, knowing that these business owners are busy – the stresses of sick employees, busted faucets, late deliveries – and ask for their time. Tell me about your life, tell me about your place here. I learn: I know the year the big move happened, I know about the father-in-law who said Somerville was a good place to live. I know about the economic realities that framed America as that glowing land of opportunity. I ask about the missing.
I expect for their to be homesickness. I feel it myself, that craving for my California skies, my rolling hills, my parents and dog and local bakery. I miss the smells of Eucalyptus, and the warmth of the sun this time of year; the sensation of motion and slowness you get in California. And I wonder, how much do these people miss their homes, their people.
They don’t have this longing sensation though, not when asked at least. I look around, and see what they have created: a home away from home. I can’t help but think, what a gift to this community – to those who made the trek across the globe to establish a different life, to those who feel that homesickness in their gut. This is not a sterile, generic market. Incense is burning by the Ganesh statuettes. The familiar packaging of Indian spices, the posters of Krishna line the inside windows. The entrance is plastered with cultural happenings, Hindustani music performances, plays. This is an oasis where a different kind of life, system of belief, concept of color and art and family is preserved.
These business owners are proud people. They are proud of what they make, what services they provide, and where they came from. They are proud they can be a home away from home, and that they can share their tradition with the Somerville community.
Hello! My name is Alexis Daniels, I’m a junior at Tufts studying Anthropology. I began Tufts studying Art History, as a Combined Degree student at the School of Museum of Fine Arts. Since studying Anthropology, I’ve become fascinated by midwifery and am beginning nursing prerequisite courses for midwifery school following graduation. I am an avid cyclist (despite having broken my back this summer), and am a volunteer at Mass General Hospital. In the Spring I’ll be studying abroad in New Delhi on a program titled “Health and Human Rights,” learning Hindi and staying with an Indian family for 10 weeks. A major component of the program is a research project, and I hope Urban Borderlands will prepare me with the ethnographic tools.
I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, in a suburb called Orinda right outside Berkeley. I was fortunate enough to be raised not by two, but three individuals. I had a nanny from birth with whom I spent my most formative years. She is a Honduran immigrant, and began living with my family from the time she was my age (20) until her mid-30s. While my parents are Jewish, American go-getter types, she worked a Pastor and house cleaner, and supported and housed family members as they migrated. Because of her, I have been interested in cultural difference, immigrant populations, and the permutations of tradition through generations. After having survived lymphoma cancer while I was in Middle School, she moved to Puerto Rico to finish her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. At the age of 43, she continues her studies today, and will return with her degree to practice clinical psychology among the immigrant community in Oakland, Ca.
I hope to learn about community-based participatory research as a way to engage marginalized communities. Additionally, I’ve just moved out of the Tufts-centric portion of Somerville, onto Central Street (between Ball Square and Union Square), and am experiencing a different kind of Somerville than the one I’ve been used to for the past two years. It is invigorating and provocative, this new atmosphere. I am interested in the city’s history, its current conditions, who lives in the houses around me. This summer I volunteered with Groundwork Somerville, teaching kids at Healey Elementary School and Prospect Hill Academy about nature and leading garden clubs. I enjoyed getting to know the youth in the area, and this class will allow for a more formal and in-depth investigation of the area.