First Interview Essay

Diego Barcena

Intro to Hispanic Hartford

19 November 2017

Professor Aidalí Aponte-Avilés

Internal Insight of Hartford

     Cesar Chávez once claimed, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and our own.” Hartford’s Hispanic community is not an exception. The community came to thrive, but they are also doing what is necessary for the community to improve. In addition, Hartford, as united as it is, is one of the most diverse cities and capitals in the country. Many of these Hispanic people came in search of jobs. Hartford, along with other cities in Connecticut, is known to have been a “factory town.” In the 1900’s companies in Hartford needed cheap labor. To solve this issue, the companies began to contract workers from areas such as Puerto Rico. As a result, the Puerto Rican population grew. With the Puerto Rican population increase came the rest of the Hispanics. Now, in the 21st century, Hartford has become very diverse and through the unity of family and cultures, this community looks to thrive. In this essay I will explain how the members of the community resemble Hartford, as a city, through the interview of Jarol, a Hartford resident that immigrated into the US from Spain two years ago. Hartford was, and remains, a place full of cultural diversity that attracts people that need jobs, especially those with family in the city. However, the residents would love the government to improve.

Hartford is a city that was well known for its factories and now is full of many small companies run by Hispanics that came in search of factory jobs. In class, we learned about how the factories would contract people that would be willing to work hard for little money because of the better living standards. That is true with most of the residents in Hartford. When I asked Jarol why he came here he said he came: “por trabajo” (for work). Work is one of the main reason the community is as it is. Citizens from all around the world work improve their living standards. I can relate to this because my parents also wished for better living conditions. They also came, not to Hartford, but to Oakland, CA in search of a better living standard. Like Jarol, my parents also believed that it was the critical reason they came. In addition, all the workers that came to Hartford lost their factory jobs after the factories began shutting down. As a result, many of the residents began to create restaurants and little shops. It is true that Hispanics value small businesses the most. Jarol works at a tiny Barber shop on Broad street called “Ricardo’s.” He values this little shop and is thankful for the work.

Moving to the US is hard for people and communities always end up getting split based on culture. People move to where they can feel comfortable. Family is one of the most comforting factors for human beings. As we studied in class, the population grew due to the comfort of the cultures within the city. Many of the people we have studied state that they come to Hartford because they have family here that convinces them to come. Jarol said, “Vine a visitar a mis padres. Lo más significante es ver a mi papá después de muchos años y a mi familia” (I came to visit my parents. The most significant thing about coming is getting to see my dad and family after years of not seeing them). During his time here, he has had a young child and is working for his family. Like him, many came to visit family and end up staying in Hartford because of how comfortable it is and how much support they must move forward.

Finally, since the 1900s Hartford has been a diverse community full of many cultures that make it such a great city. Many people value the diversity that is in Hartford. According to Jarol, “O Sí: hay demasiados, muchos países, diferentes países, todos tipos de países” (Oh yes: plenty, many countries, different countries, all types of countries.) The community has a wonderful sense of Hispanic diversity. Although everyone talks in Spanish, everyone has their own special dialect of Spanish. I am from Oakland, CA which is a predominantly Mexican neighborhood. I was not aware of these dialects and the different foods. Coming to Hartford has shown me what a diverse community is like. For example, “Ricardo’s” Barber Shop consists of a Mexican and a Spanish barber. Jarol later told me that there are Cubans, Venezuelan’s, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Guatemalans just to name a few. During the time I was there, I experienced the diversity of the clients and how the clients would know the barber personally due to the unity of the community. Although there were many cultures, all the cultures were able to socialize comfortably and were able to relate.

The residents would like the government to improve. Jarol still wishes: “que haya más trabajos” (that there would be more jobs). These little shops are struggling to keep running and he wishes the government would do more. Residents would like to have more jobs available because the little businesses set up by Hispanics aren’t enough. In addition to jobs, many people love coming to Hartford because of family, but the residents desire for public places to be improved. Jarol also stated that he wishes that the government would: “Mejorar un poquito más lo que hay aquí en Hartford” (improve what the city has). The city is nice but many of the residents wish that their community would be more appealing and taken care of. In addition, when asked upon what could be improved, Jarol said, “Pues, la delincuencia, las drogas” (Well, the crime, and the drugs). It is true the community is suffering from a lot of issues, but some residents wish the government would do a little more. However, many foundations such as the “Connecticut Institute for Community Development” are considering getting younger kids off the streets and into safe habits. Although the government is trying, many people wish that the government would do more for their current family (and the possible family that may be coming) to be in a safer environment.

Hartford is going through a difficult financial era, but its diverse community stands as strong as a united family that is just trying to survive. The reasons for arriving to Hartford are all different but most people would say it is for the work. At the time, unemployment is a big issue and the community is realizing it but everyone continues to enjoy life. People came to the US in search of opportunities. The opportunities are still available no matter what conditions are put in front of the Hartford community. The families are happy with every new born and the generations keep advancing through time. However, the community will always remember its diverse roots.

BiCi Co.

BiCi Co. is a bicycle shop located in the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut. It was created by the Center For Latino Progress in June 2015. In 2015 there were no bicycle shops in Hartford. According to the Program Manager Joe Dickerson, “BiCi Co. was really founded with the goal of being a youth development program. The intention was to create opportunities for youth to learn a marketable skill. In this case, bicycle mechanics. They would get trained to work with bikes.” After being founded two years ago, BiCi Co. has grown and is now able to offer a wider variety of programs ranging from mechanics classes to their famous Earn-a-Bike program.