Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Flashlight used across South America
Flashlight used across South America

"Do you want to keep it?" he asks offhandedly, stopping in the middle of his story. The recorder is still on, but I reach out without thinking and take the flashlight from his hands. Now, it sits on my desk as a reminder of something I'm still working to understand.

Leonel is my second cousin, the most recent immigrant from Cuba in our family full of Cuban immigrants, and came over in 2011. As I'm recording the story of his journey to the U.S. for my Oral History class, he tells me about the flashlight sitting on his desk. It looked so non-descript at first, like any other item you'd find lying around in a house. He begins to recount how he first purchased it in Ecuador, where he and his wife first decided abruptly while abroad that they were going to continue on to New Jersey, where his biological father lived, instead of returning home to Cuba. The flashlight was one of the few items they could take on the trip through South and Central America, through Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Mexico. It was a flashlight that lit the way through dense forest and down empty beaches as they paid and stumbled their way across the continent, and it was a flashlight that -- eventually -- helped guide them to a new home.

Place(s): Cuba,Ecuador,New Jersey
Year: 2011

– Meghan V.

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant