Photo credit: @julesdwit.
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John Rudolph, executive producer of Feet in 2 Worlds, talks about a new Feet in 2 Worlds/Cowbird project collecting stories about what immigrants brought to this country, and takes your calls.
My paternal grandmother brought an embroidered toddlers blouse with her cousins initials on it. I saw it in a drawer when I was a child and now it hangs on my wall in a 3 dimensional frame. Also in that drawer was her thick brown braid which the it off when he was so sick in steerage on the boat.
I came from India and brought with me a lot more than I thought I could. It has been just 3 years since, and every year, something new comes out of my treasure trove- of memories. The first few months, I thought I brought with me memories of food, of those special ingredients that make my cooking authentically Indian, some of which I had taken with me, but as some of them got over, I missed them terribly. As time moved on, I got used to it. When snow blankets came out of Nature's closet, I took my sun-soaked memory comforter out, as I come from a part of India, Kerala, known for its sunny, palm-fringed beaches and backwaters. With the passage of time, as I started reading stories written by American authors, and by several international authors, thanks to the free Public Libraries, I knew what I would take back with me- stories, some so beautifully woven with the cultural fabric that I soon invited my parents and relatives back home to also savor them. I will take back with me memories of the changing seasons here, as opposed to just the two main seasons back home in Kerala, India; it’s either rain or shine there :)
It's the things and people we left behind that I think about more then objects. I did paint a painting called bearing gifts . A teddy bear amongst cactus indicative of migrates crossing the deserts along the southern border. As one expires you begin to drop those precious things you didn't want t leave behind....like, for a child, your teddy bear.
A friend in Boston is a young concert violinist, originally from Minsk. He has recently recorded a second CD, tentatively titled "Music from the Trunk." When his family was allowed to leave Belarus, they were permitted only one trunk of possessions - in which they saved room for favorite classical music scores! (They were not allowed to take thier instruments.)
My maternal great grandmother brought a handmade silver baby spoon from Hungary over a hundred years ago. It has been handed down to all moms in future generations to feed their babies.
I spent a third of my life in France, and although it wasn't specifically French, in 1998 I brought back one of those Fjall Raven backpacks, that I'd saved up for and had for years. For a while, whenever I'd see someone else with a Fjall Raven backpack, I knew it was someone else from Europe, and we'd always wave to each other, or stop and ask where each of us had got ours. It was like the Vespa experience where Vespa owners beep at each other. When I needed a replacement I had to get a friend from German to fedex me one. But recently that very bag has become a hipster accessory, and now EVERYONE has one, so it's no longer an emblem of the traveller. (sigh)
Nota bene: the boat was still docked in Sicily when my grandmother left and ran home for her icon.
Grandma grew up in Messina, Sicily with a religious icon -- a photo of Jesus -- over her bed. When she left her family at 14, immigrating to the US to live with her sister, she almost forgot the icon, and ran all the way back home from the boat to Naples (the first port on the crossing) to retrieve the icon.
Many years later, when she died, the icon was hanging in my Grandma's bedroom. She'd said that she wanted to be buried with it, but my Grandpa couldn't part with it because it reminded him of her. The night before the funeral, my grandpa was explaining this to relatives, mentioning that the light meant to illuminate the icon had long since burned out. Then he pulled the string. The light went on.
The icon was buried with my grandmother.
My grandmother, no more than 20 years old, left her parents in Russia (knowing, due to the Tzar's pogroms, that she would never see them again or even be able to stay in touch) and brought with her her samovar and Friday-night candle sticks. What steely nerve she had!
My paternal grandmother brought a leather-bound Hebrew/German siddur (prayer book), which I have inherited. It keeps in my mind and heart our Jewish family history.
@ Chaim from NYC: You posted on the wrong page.
My grandparents and parents homesteaded in Canada. They brought the farm. I was struck when I travelled to Germany and found the houses and farms all looked like the farms and houses I grew up in.
The Pope is right in an era whereof one of the most profitable companies, Apple, doesn't hire employees to staff it's Genius Bars,but rather pays "independent contractors" by the hour, with no benefits or job security.
Portraits of Tunisian migrants and the belongings they are traveling with:http://www.rebecca-marshall.com/2011/05/travelling-light-sleeping-rough/
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