Perspectives: Beyond the border

A “Castillo”, a wooden structure designed to display and handle various fireworks, dispenses fire in front of a church in Degollado, Mexico on Dec. 31, 2016. Castillos are a staple in Mexican culture, used primarily during December in honor of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Angelo Angel

“¿Eres del norte, verdad?” — “You’re a northerner, correct?”

It’s a question I was asked various times throughout my winter break visit to Jalisco, a state within Mexico revered for its iconic tequila, mountains bleached by the sun and the origin of the mariachi band. Grinning politely, I’d confirm their curiosity in Spanish, replying that I hailed from Ohio.

But most wouldn’t think that I was actually born in Mexico, a place I haven’t visited since July 2011. I immigrated to the United States when I was a toddler, only having faint memories of the land my parents call home and occasionally visited throughout my teens. So, returning for what would essentially be a homecoming was exciting.

Returning also reminded me of the numerous troubles Mexico faces: a weak economy, drug cartel violence and an unpopular government.

In January, protests erupted across the country when the government mandated a price spike in gasoline, adding to the stress that Mexicans face on a day-to-day basis.

I was visiting Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, when a major protest swamped the city. My journalistic instincts kicked in, following the crowd and gathering their stories. Everything I’ve learned during my JMC student career came into play during those intense moments, tactfully conversing with the protestors and projecting a professional demeanor.

In the end, I was able to accumulate vast images and stories. I learned that stories hold no allegiance or nationality and people across the border wish to be heard, just as much as an individual in Kent.

It made me appreciate my heritage and discover a sense of pride, hailing from a desert country filled with joy and tragedy.

As Vicente Fernandez, an iconic Mexican singer, would say: “Quiere cantar su alegría a mi tierra mexicana”  —  I want to sing your happiness to my Mexican land.

Angelo Angel is a photographer, contact him at [email protected].