Mr. Stavans and Mr. Hamill spoke eloquently about the immigrant experience and what it means to be American, a question that is central to the museum’s mission. Mr. Hamill, the son of Irish immigrants, proclaimed
the “capital of cities for people not like you” and talked about the different things—from food to language to music—that immigrants have contributed to this country. New York
Mr. Stavans, an immigrant himself who came to
New York from Mexico in the 1980s, shared that sentiment, referring to as a mosaic of immigrant cultures. With larger immigrant communities today than ever before, the story of immigration continues to unfold, changing what it means to be American. In Mr. Stavans words, America is always in the process of “becoming.” America
So who tells the stories of these many immigrants and new Americans? As our guest speakers both pointed out, that is a task often left to the younger generations.
This idea struck a chord with many members of the Orchard Street Contemporaries. Our mission is to engage young people in the preservation of the
Lower East Side’s immigrant history by connecting it with the vibrancy of the neighborhood today, as well as contemporary issues related to immigration.
We are currently looking for more young professionals to join us in fulfilling our mission by organizing future events and programs. If you’re interested, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becoming Americans features four centuries of immigrant writing and is available online or at the Museum Shop at
108 Orchard Street.
-- Posted by Kristin Shiller, a volunteer for the
’s young professionals group the Orchard Street Contemporaries. Tenement Museum