HUMANS OF “EL VALLE”As I said at the beginning of the class, I always have been a very shyperson. Therefore, I always avoid being around people.
I am not the kind ofperson who would start a conversation with anyone. For that reason, any type ofassignment that has to do with interacting with new people makes me feel anxious. My biggest fear from this project isthat I always have problems interacting with new people. The simple fact ofthinking that I must approach an unknown person gives me anxiety, for example,asking for some information when I needed an address when I needed something inthe store. So, you can already imagine the great challenge that this assignmentwas for me.In a similar manner, during this project I had to face differentchallenges, such as interacting with new people, having to go out alone and havingto figure out what kind of people I was interested in photographing.
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I thinkthe biggest challenge was finding the people that I found interesting and thenapproaching them. Some days I was out at the streets without taking a singlephoto. I could never have imagined that taking only 5 photos would take me somuch time. Like me, many people are not social, and they did not let mephotograph them. I understand them perfectly. I never imagined how interesting it could be to go out on the streets tolook for people. It is interesting to be aware of the different behaviors thatpeople assume on the streets, from those who can demonstrate arrogance,superiority, other kinds of exhibitionism, even those who can express theiraffection and confidence when interacting with another person.
When I startedwith this project, I knew that I was looking for a specific type of person,something that I found interesting, but I still had no idea what kind of peopleI was looking for. So, I decided to go to different places, such as the mall,downtown, and different neighborhoods in the city. I went out to the streetswith the purpose of observing people’s behaviors and interactions. While I wasdoing the assignment, I realized that we live near the border, so there must bea significant number of Hispanics living in the city. Then, I start thinking onthe new migration laws and I thought it will be interesting to interviewHispanic persons for this assignment. I wanted to know what are their thoughtsand what they think they can do to make a difference in the city. One of my biggest concerns about meeting new people is not knowing whatto say to them, or having an uncomfortable conversation.
So, I prepared myselfwith conversation topics that I could use with them to not make them feeluncomfortable with my presence. I made a list of topics that I thought theycould become interested in and then I started talking about myself. In betweenthe conversation, I started to tell them a little about this assignment. Iwanted them to know about the assignment so, they could feel comfortable when Iasked them to be part of my project.
In fact, I use two methods. The first one wasto ask the people directly if I could take a picture of them for a project thatI was working on and the second was to first have a conversation and say itbetween the talks, little by little. The second one was the best option. Ithink people are kinder when they feel confident. I am not using to interactwith people, so I apply the contact hypothesis, I try to spend a little timetogether with the new people I was meeting to avid prejudice. Let’s face it, many times others judge us without knowing us, andsometimes we are the ones who do it with others. Human beings have theincredible ability to pre-judge everything that crosses our path.
Withoutnoticing we judge almost everything from a meal, services, people, attitudes,reactions … etc. While working on this project I could see that in factwithout realizing it, I was in the situation that without knowing someone I hadalready imagined lots of things, good or bad of those people. The truth is thatappearances usually cheat, and we realize later, that we were wrong. One of mygoals in this project was that the persons felt comfortable at all time.
Ididn’t want to invade their personal space. I always put a distance thatprovide not only safety, but also where they could have felt confident. I wasdealing with strangers and I understand that the personal space is differentfrom person to person, varying from culture to culture. I found it particularlyfascinating how one’s culture influences the behavior of the individual.
It isinteresting to learn this kind of concept because you must imagine what kind ofperson you would be if you were born in a different part of the world. I use mycontact hypothesis by talking with people from different culture. I am new inmy neighborhood and I used to judge my neighbors because they are white peopleand they always have gatherings in their house. So, I decided to assist to oneof their gathering.
I thought white people where bored. At first it wasfrustrating, but after knowing them I reduce my prejudice.Honestly, this was the hardest assignment during thesemester, but it was a worth learning experience. Having to go out at thestreets and ask random persons if I could take photographs of themselves was atough challenge for me. Personally, I do not think it is normal that a persongoes walk down the street taking pictures of people without even knowing them.However, I enjoy it too much never imagine that I could learn so much with thisassignment