This week, Dr. Susan Legere screened a documentary she made in 2007 about the workers in Boston College dining halls, Immigration Reflection. The documentary focused on three different employees who had immigrated from different countries—Brigida “Vicky” Miranda, Jorge Chacon, and Manuel “Manny” Alves—and their transition into American society.
The movie was screened as part of International Education Week, a 12-day program by the Office of International Program that emphasizes and celebrates the international diversity at BC. The documentary highlights the lives of dining workers, a population students often do not know personally.
All of the stories mentioned in the documentary are positive: Miranda endured poverty, but then got full-time work at BC. Chacon emigrated from Peru, and his son graduated from the Carroll School of Management in 2007; and Alves moved from Cape Verde and eventually graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and then became supervisor for the campus shuttle bus system. These stories all emphasize a narrative where Boston College supported and uplifted the workers, helping them create a new life.
“A filmmaker’s power is considerable, and lies in decisions around what is filmed, what is not, how shots are framed, the questions that are asked, the questions that are left unasked, which comments and footage are left in, and which are edited out, and more,” Legere said.
The impact of this lies in the fact that it showcases stories little known by students. Though students interact with the dining workers every day—in Mac, Lower, Hillside, the Rat, and The Chocolate Bar—it isn’t often that there are exchanges beyond pleasantries. This documentary opens students’ eyes to how the workers are treated, and how BC can impact their lives for the better.
Much of International Education Week focuses on the student experience, with a fashion show and an international careers networking event. The focus of the week is to bring attention to the diversity at BC, and much of that diversity comes from those immigrants who work here.
For students to truly understand the diversity of the University, they need to be aware of all parts, not just the parts that are immediately apparent within the student body.
Immigration Reflection opens up a world not seen by many students. It creates a productive dialogue around immigration and diversity among staff, and encourages students to get to know those that keep their day-to-day life going smoothly.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor