My Plan of Concentration consists of an exploration of people from Cuparaque and Mantenópolis, Brazil, and their migration to Martha’s Vineyard, United States. I documented this phenomenon through interviews and photography. The photography portion not only expresses the experiences of the migrants, but my personal experiences of migration between Brazil and the U.S. In order to do so I capture images that document the realities of cuaparaquenses and mantenopolitanos in Brazil and in the U.S., and images that represent my personal memories of home and belonging between the two places. These photographs establish a sense of belonging and feelings of home. My independent requirement for Plan is a translation of an abridged version of my essay from English to Portuguese.
The reasons for leaving Martha’s Vineyard are revealed by the interviewees in many different ways: separation from family, depression, exhaustion due excessive work, or the difficulty of living with an uncertain legal status. But once many get back to Brazil they become disappointed because their existence is not as economically stable and full of opportunity as their former lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Roseli, a thirty-three-year-old mother living in Cuparaque, associated her return to missing her parents. She was twenty-two when she traveled to Martha’s Vineyard to live with her sister. Unlike many women who travel on tourist visas to join their partners she traveled as a single woman, a dangerous nine-day journey, to cross the Mexican border illegally.
My study has found that regardless of obtaining legal status in the United States, which determines their ability to travel to and from Brazil, mantenopolitanos and cuparaquenses maintain connections between the two locations. They engage in bifocal activities that contribute to fulfilling their emotional needs such as frequent phone calls to family members at home, vacations back to their hometowns, watching local Brazilian television, speaking Portuguese on daily basis, cooking traditional Brazilian meals, and engaging in activities with fellow migrants from their sending towns. As in the case of Ana Caroline they also send remittances to support their families.