Thursday, December 14, 2006

arrival-project by Susy Bielak

A friend of mine is doing a project related to the expat experience. Please help her out by emailing her at or posting your comments here. Also check out her website at


Dear friends,

As some of you know, I'm working on a project exploring moments of arrival; when people physically arrive to a new place or reach a milestone in their lives.

A story that inspired me to ask these questions is that of my grandmother, who arrived in Mexico from Poland at the age of six and stayed for the remaining 82 years of her life. She often described her wonder at arriving in Mexico and finding a world more vibrant than she had imagined, cloth more densely woven, colors more fierce, and fruit like nothing she'd tasted before. Upon emerging from the ship, a dark hand of a fruit vendor presented her with a fruit she'd never seen before—a mango, which tasted like a spicy carrot, sweeter than dew, soft and textured. Struck with the new warmth, color and language, she realized that her life would be forever changed.

This story inspires me to ask the question of when and where we experience arrival in its many forms. Moments of arrival can range from crossing a national border, to purchasing a home, to finalizing a divorce, to embarking on a new career, to falling in love.

Over the next few months I'll be collecting stories of arrival. The stories (as anonymous as desired) will be collected into a book or journal that possibly will be published. Please let me know if you have a story from your own life, or from the life of a relative, that you would like to share. I'd like both a description of this moment, in as much detail as possible, and a visual representation of the moment (a photograph from the time, a symbolic object). You can write about the moment and send it to me, or we can have a conversation--whichever you prefer.

In case you're interested, here are some questions to prompt the description. Please use as much detail as possible.
1. Where were you geographically (country, city, forest, desert, beach, suburbia, bar, etc.)?
2. What did you feel like (cold, hungry, ecstatic, sad, etc.)?
3. What were you doing?
4. Who was there?
5. What were memorable images/objects/places/colors from the event?
6. What is your sensory recall of the experience-were there any smells, sounds, touches that are part of this memory?

I hope you're interested. Please let me know. Thank you!

Happy winter.


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