Migration & Culture/Koptiuch
Nogales Fieldtrip Reports

Desiree R. Dawson
A Different World

As I crossed the border between 19th avenue and Camelback, I felt as if I escaped into another world.  This border represents a culture that has migrated from unfamiliar territory within the U.S.  These migrants create a home away from home, establishing a culture of their own within U.S. boundaries.  It comes with things familiar from specialized markets to reading signs in their own language such as Spanish.  I drove through the streets of Bethany Home and Thomas Road and couldnít help but feeling like I was in another country.  I became the minority; ivory skin, light brown hair, and blue eyes caught many peopleís attention.  Many of the brown skinned people gave me looks as if questioning why I was in their territory.  They seemed proud to be within the boundaries of the U.S., but the signs of poverty were still evident.  Many migrants lived in run down houses and suburbs.  Their living circumstances are beneath some prideful Americans that canít comprehend such poverty.  What Americans donít realize is for most migrants this is paradise compared to living in their own culture back home.  I sat and wondered how many people chose to live this way in order to have more funds to send back to where their families resided.  My awareness of these migrant lives has expanded and watched as they daily went about their business ignoring any possible spectators studying them, except for some that automatically stuck out.  I noticed more people walking around on foot.  The bus stops were full of dozens of people.  In upper class areas of Phoenix you maybe see only a few people waiting for the bus or walking around, but it is rare to see dozens of people waiting for the bus.  The bus seemed to be their only method of transportation.  Perhaps, because most of them could not afford to buy a car or maintain the expenses of the cost of gas or maintenance of the vehicle.  I saw many different types of ethnicity among people walking around.  There were mainly African Americans, Latinos and many other types of cultures that seemed to blend together in a sort of melting pot way.

One of the first things I also noticed was the buildings.  Many of them were older models with old signs out front.  It is a definite downgrade from the glittering fashions of upper Phoenix.  It seemed that the area was not well kept.  The houses were run down with trash scattered everywhere.  Clearly not a well kept area like other areas in the city like Scottsdale.  I also saw that gas was about ten cents cheaper and the prices within the stores were also lower than average.  Perhaps because the businesses cater to the surrounding areas and what that district can afford.  The price value of the area is much lower so the economic value is also lower.  The stores have to provide prices that people can afford.  I felt out of place.  It was this whole other culture within the borders of the U.S.  Itís like this culture over took certain areas of Phoenix and changed it into something they themselves were familiar with.  To Americans it seemed out of place to what we are normally used to seeing, which is the richness and wealth of America.  I also saw a huge billboard sign advertising Tecate beer in Spanish.  That was a very unfamiliar thing to me.

Near where I live is considered little Mexico at Grand Avenue and Glendale.  It is also the same type of thing.  You see these little mom and pop type of stores trying to survive.  Rundown areas as well.  Home too many hired help for the surrounding farm community.  One thing that stuck out to me is the panhandlers selling any sort of thing on the street corner to make extra money to survive.  Anything from ice cream to American hand held flags.  In other areas of Phoenix these things are unheard of and unseen.  Driving through Scottsdale is like entering into a golden palace.  No one standing on street corners everything is luxurious, picturesque, and in utter perfection.  You see the wealth of our nation verses the poverty of other cultures like what I drove through.  These migrants adapted to what they are familiar with and these borders within Phoenix are where they feel at home.

I learned a lot by this project about what to be thankful for.  Many migrants in these borders of America are barely making ends meat.  They are the underpaid working class and taken advantage of in many ways.  Some will never be able to break free of what our society classifies them as.  Others will excel at whatever is placed before them.  To me Phoenix represents several different worlds living in one nation.  Itís the melting pot of various cultures.  The freedom of America and the society we live in draws migrates from all over the world to live a better life and have more opportunities.

Return to Report Index

Return to Borderlinks 2001 home