Occidental College Alternative Spring Break Program: Voices of LA

Courtesy of Digital History

Courtesy of Digital History

This year Occidental College’s Alternative Spring Break program sought out to focus on the issues surrounding immigration and citizenship in the city of Los Angeles. The objectives of the program were to develop and demonstrate respect for others’ lifestyles, beliefs and behaviors and have a willingness to stand up for marginalized populations. Through various activities such as working with the nonprofit DreamTeam LA, visiting museums to gain historical perspectives, and discussions with undocumented people and the community, we developed a deeper commitment to social and civic issues. Throughout the Alternative Spring Break, we were fascinated by the diversity in perspectives and immigration stories, yet all were bounded by the common thread of overcoming hardships. As a result, a group of students and I felt compelled to share our experiences with our Oxy community and the greater community. Therefore, we decided to collect quotes throughout our outings including from El Museo de Culutra y Artes, The Chinese American Museum, and The National Japanese American Museum. We believe these quotes are manifestations of the immigrant experiences in the United States.

The first half of the video represents the first waves non-European waves of immigration. One of the quotes is illustrated through a song we came across in the Chinese American Museum in downtown Los Angeles. It describes how men from southern China in the 1850s left their families and homes to seek fortune in the Americas. Migrating for economic and livelihood reasons is a common experience among immigrants, as still seen today.

The latter half of the video represents post-immigration issues, such as those dealing with oppression, disillusionment, struggle to attain their perception of the American Dream, and acculturation. We hope you enjoy our video as you travel through time alongside the voices of immigrants.


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