I saw this early this morning and thought that it was important to share partly because it prevents the spread of ignorance about Haitians.
After being frustrated with my search of hard facts or numbers that would be able to back up all the oral histories that I was able to get, I finally went to the Somerville Haitian Coalition. It was conveniently located only a short walk away from Tufts campus which allowed to get there easily. The interview went very well and from my past interview I knew that I needed to focus on why Haitians came to Somerville but this interview showed that it would be impossible to answer. Instead what I learned was that there are a multitude of reasons why Haitians came to Somerville but I will never be able to get to the bottom of how it happened. I came to realize that because some Haitians came to the US illegally, there is no telling when the first Haitians came or how they came or why. All I can do it tell what happened once there presence was finally known and felt, which is what I’m doing in my paper.
After all the Haitian food I had this past Thanksgiving Day, it reminded me of Haitian food in general. I think that food in general is a great tool to bring people together and it is most exemplified on Thanksgiving Day. It’s difficult trying to find information to back up my own opinion on food and Haitians but I think that for my final paper I will look at the opportunities that Boston and Somerville have to offer for Haitians. In doing so I will of course look at immigrants in general as way to show that the opportunities are not only for Haitians but show how the city is kind to immigrants in helping them to prosper.
I tried contacting the Somerville Haitian Coalition today but they are closed as I thought they might be. I’ll try this Monday. Hopefully they can help fill in the gaps for the paper I want to write, which I seem to have a good outline for surprisingly.
So far, I have been very fortunate to have been able to find 4 different Haitian restaurants in Somerville and all owned and operated by Haitians. I just had an interview about 6 hours again and before I went I was afraid that the business might not be there anymore because I could not call them. I knew hoped it would be there because the LIPS students all said they had seen it recently so I was counting on the memory of the high school students to pull through for me and save me from what might have been a disaster! I learned that the reason that I was not able to contact the business was because the owner had gotten a new landlord, which changed the name of the restaurant and also the number. Other then that, it was the same as it was before the change. I have just one more interview to do and I’ll be done. I’ve been transcribing but the English is so grammatically incorrect and flows so unevenly on paper as opposed to how the actual conversation. For the business I recently visited, I was unable to get a picture of the outside partly because there is construction going on outside and there are three bus stops right in front of the business. It was also night time so a picture wouldn’t be any good but I was able to get picture of the restaurant inside, which will go with my interview report. So far so good and so has been the food!
Hello world! My name is Neilda Marie Cassandre Barthelemy, but everyone knows me as Cassandra, which is the English translation of the French name Cassandre. I was born in Haiti in 1989 and came to the States in April of 1993. I was three and a very curious child when I finally landed in Boston. I was like a sponge, ready and willing to learn all that there is to know about the new land that I was now in. Everything from hop scotch to all the songs sung on Seseme Street, which I still know to this day! Music is probably something that helped me a lot growing up, which explains why I still remember those songs and play three instruments, piano, alto saxophone and violin.
I am now a junior, class of 2012, at Tufts University majoring in Anthropology with the hopes of going to medical school someday. I live with both my parents and have a 14 and 9 year old sister who are always asking what college is like! I am very happy and fortunate to be here and in this course because I too am an immigrant and know that importance of a familial community that is accessible.
When my family and I moved to Boston, we settled into Mattapan, an area of Boston that has a high population of Haitian immigrants. During my time there I was exposed to many different cultures other than Haitian cultures. The annual Caribbean Festival helped heighten my awareness of the many peoples of the Caribbean that have come here, to Boston. This helped to lead me into immigration rights because I knew of too many people who are trying to come into the States and had trouble at every corner. I decided that I needed to volunteer to become more proactive and I did so with Catholic Charities while I was in high school. This experience opened my eyes to the poor health of immigrants. Many of whom have never seen a doctor or haven’t seen on in years. I read books about these things, particularly Mountains Beyond Mountains by anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer. It sparked my interest in medicine and also in the affairs of immigrants.
Those are the main reasons why I decided to take Urban Borderlands. I am interested in how the Greenline expansion into Somerville will affect the local community. I know personally that had there not been a trolley connecting Ashmont Station to Mattapan, life would have been a lot more difficult for my family along with countless other immigrants. Also, in recent years and month, immigrants have been a “hot button” topic in terms of politics and health care. This for the most part has made me angry because I don’t think most people understand the value of immigrants. I think that it is important to support immigrants as they join this great melting pot. This course will help me to better understand the needs of immigrants living in and/or near a city. I hope it also helps me to become a better advocate for the advancement of immigrants in Somerville, Boston, and beyond!