It is well known that the United States is a nation of immigrants. For over 200 years it has become home to a large number of refugees. Refugees are a specific category of immigrants, who have fled persecution in their come countries and usually spend years or decades in camps with no possibility of returning home or settling in the neighboring country where the camp is located. Minnesota has more refugees per capita that any other state in the United States.
For two years, I have been photographing some of the families and individuals who now call Minnesota home. They come from Burma, Bhutan, Eritrea and Somalia primarily. Oftentimes, I meet them the day they arrive or just a few days later. I am a witness to the building of new lives. I observe them improve their language skills, search to find jobs that match their specific abilities, the struggles of adapting to a cold Minnesota winter, and their efforts to maintain a cultural identity that is familiar and resonates. Above all, I have come to know the sacrifices parents make for their children and the dreams they hold dear for the next generation.
In addition to my ongoing photographic work, I collaborate with my subjects to bring forward their written stories of the past, as well as their hopes and aspirations for the future. This project intends to provide understanding and empathy.
Truly, my own process brought me to the people that I am photographing now. Though I am not a refugee, I am an immigrant. I decided to leave my country, Mexico, a few years ago when violence reached unprecedented levels. In Minnesota, I too, have found my home.