By Krystal Clark, Director for the Office of Student Leadership Development at Vanderbilt University
HOME was the recurring theme that walked alongside during our indelible experience in Mexico City + Puebla.
I happened upon the quote above as we were dashing to the Organización Internacional para las Migraciones and like most of the vibrant exteriors and ornate doors, I could not help but drift towards it. I used my limited Spanish to interpret the sentence and begged the fluency of a companion to help decipher the rest of this gem that was embedded in the brick wall surrounding the HOME.
The Yellow Path. The Yellow Brick Road. The heralded journey that took Dorothy and Toto HOME.
The importance of HOME. The responsibility of and duty to HOME. Finding HOME. Who gets to determine your HOME? What happens when HOME is not a place that allows you and your loved ones to thrive? The brokenness that comes with not having a HOME. Realizing the place you hope to call HOME does not accept you. Leaving HOME unsure if you’ll ever be able to return. The resilience it takes to rebuild or create a new HOME. The place that la vida is all about—HOME.
We spent time with women who are working selflessly to assist returnees, deportees, and refugees to reframe and replenish HOME. Marcela Torres, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of hola <code/> built a 5-month software engineering bootcamp focused on integrating returned or deported migrants and refugees in Mexico. She seeks to develop the potential of migrants, provide them with the opportunity to build a productive and prosperous life in Mexico, while filling a talent gap in the tech sector. Maggie Loredo is the Director of Poch@ House, a Mexico City center for deportees and returnees. Poch@ House is a place where people can fully express their dual HOME experience of growing up in the United States and now finding themselves in Mexico. Camila de la Fuente “Camdelafu”, political cartoonist, was forced to leave her HOME of Venezuela and now lives in Mexico and fights social injustice in her HOME country as well as in Mexico and the United States through her artistry. HOME is a motivator. Remittances, money sent HOME by Mexicans living abroad is key to the sacrifices of being away from the people and the place you love.
What weighed on my heart the most is how those of us with little understanding, except that of what we see on the screens we cling to, forget that human beings call the place and the people within it we vilify HOME.
Why have we made HOME into a privilege and not a right?
What is clear to me is that there are talented people in Mexico City and Puebla spending their life not working for the glamour of the red carpet and instead use their gifts to help others invest in what life is all about, finding and following the yellow path. The path HOME.