In the summer of 2010, I began a walk across 10 Latin America countries to bring awareness to the socio-cultural issues of Central America. I walked, hitchiked, and rode canoes, across Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. It was a walk that lasted a total of 5,328 miles, over the course of three months.
The Walk of the Immigrants was meant to act as an image narrative that teaches empathy, and reminds our cultures of the commonalities that we have as a people. It was my hope to create a new bridge, one not dependent on mainstream media, to connect people with people.
Throughout my journey I captured the cultural values, the struggles, and most prominent issues of these countries through images. It is the story of Latin America, and the people of Latin America, and then creating a window to share that with the other cultures of the world.
It is a project about promoting education, empathy, and humanity, all through photographs. It is a project about us as one people.
«« THE INSPIRATION ««
This project began with the story of my mother, and her decision to emmigrate to the United States so that I could have access to stronger educational resources.
Her decision was the reason I avoided a life in Atencingo and it was my hope, and responsibility, to do the same for the streets kids of the community.
In Atencingo, educational resources, as well as opportunity, are limited. Unconnected from modern education, despite a few donations from family members across the border, limits opportunity. In Atencingo, success can be measured by the last year completed before dropping out of school and beginning your work in the sugar cane fields, or leaving for the United States. My inspiration was the small withering elementary school named General Emiliano Zapata.
The inspiration for the project was to help the street kids of Atencingo by rebuilding the elementary school through the revenue collected from the photographs sold during the Walk of the Immigrants. It was my hope to return what was given to me.
«« RESULTS ««
During my trip I had more than 40,000 followers from over 140 countries throughout the world. I had followers from Brazil, India, Russia, China, Canada, and all of Europe. And when I finally made it home I was broadcasted in more than 135 cities in the United States.
I was also featured on Univision, the Independent, spoke for TED, and was broadcasted on the story with Dick Gordan via National Public Radio. As a student I spent one year giving presentations throughout North Carolina, another year curating the photographs, and finally, I think the images are ready to travel the world.
So far we’ve sold enough photographs to fund the full salary of one of the teachers, Jaime. With help from NCSU Libraries, The Caldwell Fellows, CSLEPS, and the Mexican government, we were finally able to rebuild the entire school of General Emiliano Zapata.
This, already, is a dream come true for me and for the kids. We are now finally able to focus on the educational tools that the students will need throughout their 5 years that they attend the elementary school.
The Walk of the Immigrants” made me realize the commonalities that we have as people. Underneath, we are all individuals that seek happiness, survival, and hope to avoid suffering.