The point that myself and my group were trying to make with this final project is the division of the multiple cultures in New Brunswick. It was obvious to us that the Spanish-speaking culture was a disadvantage in certain parts of New Brunswick, for the simple fact that many areas are condensed with English-speaking, oblivious college students. We wanted to capture how a task, as simple as food shopping, could be so different between various groups of people. For a white-collar worker, a location such as C-Town may be a mindless stop on the way home to pick up a few things that they forgot at their larger supermarket. But for the single, young mother of four, a C-Town trip may have to be strategically planned out to fit her budget and schedule. There were some of the issues we wanted to raise with our final project at C-Town.
The collision of all these different people at this one awkward location could be the premise for some very interesting things to happen. While we were at C-Town we saw no interracial interactions between anyone, except for us when we decided to try to interview some customers. In order to capture the feelings of a Hispanic person in an English speaking country, we formulated our project based on the idea of what it would be like to be in the Spanish-speaking population's shoes. The dilemmas faced by this group on a daily basis are endless, but we decided to focus on the language barrier and how that can lead to other problems. The goal of our project was to have the class experience the role of a person that they may feel very removed from. We want the class to know what it feels like to be a Hispanic, Spanish-speaking in America with limited English-speaking skills.
The location of C-Town is the point where the old New Brunswick ends and new New Brunswick begins. The Rutgers residence hall Rockoff is directly across the street from C-Town. On the other side of the C-Town is a large Hispanic population.
Our project breaks the class up into groups with half of the students on the inside of the store and half on the outside. The people on the outside of the store are distributed a map of the store, and the students on the inside of the store are to be guided by these maps. We came up with the map idea as if it were a keyboard and the students on the inside were cursors on a computer screen, maneuvered by the outside students. The students on the inside are provided with a shopping list, but the list is in Spanish. The two groups communicate through cell phones to find all of the items on the list. Once the students find the selected items, there will be an index card that explains the signifcance of the item to the person who's list they have. We hope that some of the same emotions that the Spanish customers feel in America the students will experience as well.
There were a few readings that correlated to our project directly. Those readings are "Mapping the Homunculus", "A Different City for a Different Life", "Site Specifics", and "Critical Vehicles".
First, "Mapping the Homunculus" reflects our idea for mapping in our project. Since maps are the oldest form of tracking, we thought it would be interesting for the students on the outside of the store to know where the students inside the store were. "A Different City for a Different Life" discusses the urbanism that takes over cities and gives them a different feel. I can testify myself that I have seen this happen in New Brunswick. Rutgers was built so integrally in the city that it is hard to distinguish the two. With the combination of Rutgers University and Johnson & Johnson, urbanism has taken over New Brunswick. "Site Specifics" is relative to our, and everybody's project, because it raises the fact that the location of the work is essential for the success of that work and it can be done nowhere else. C-Town in New Brunswick is unlike any other supermarket I've ever seen. This exact supermarket is the only place where we could conduct this project, because the racial dynamics are distinct here. Lastly, the "Critical Vehicles" article brings up the issue of immigrants adapting to the environment of large buildings. This subsection discusses how immigrants and all others interact in this environment. This is an everyday reality of New Brunswick residents and Rutgers students. Although the interaction is usually ignored, it is still present. Most of the Rutgers students ignore the residents of New Brunswick and it's an interesting fact to examine because the two worlds are so closely related yet so separate.
With our project, we hope to bring a new perspective to the race relations in New Brunswick. In a city where there are so many different types of people, it is a shame that we all go along not acknowleding each other. Trying to even be an immigrant in America is hard, but when another group of people, such as Rutgers students, start to integrate the area, it makes it even harder to adapt. We hope that this project offers an opportunity for the students to live in the shoes of four hypothetical people to understand the various struggles.