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A Tour in City Heights

Observations in a very diverse area.

Although I have been staying in San Diego for almost three years, I’ve never been to City Heights. It takes about an hour and a half of travel time, with bus and trolley, to travel from my apartment to City Heights. The streets in the City Heights area actually seem nicer than that of downtown. When I got off the trolley in downtown, I saw a lot of homeless people. Some of them stay at a corner of a building, others lie on the sidewalk. I saw an American flag on one of their carts, and I saw a toy fighter jet (maybe it's the F/A-18 Hornet) on another man’s. There aren’t many homeless men in City Heights. I think I only saw one next to the City Heights Park during my two-hour walk. I saw children playing in City Heights Park. Children of all colors playing together, in harmony. I saw a quote engraved on the wall next to City Heights Library:

King once had a dream. A dream of man caring for fellowman, limited only by the boundaries of time and space, echoed by men and women through time. A love without limits. Art and poetry, Jimmy Collins, 1998

At the display window, I saw posters celebrating women’s history month, St. Patrick’s day, and Cesar Chavez day. I saw a poster on the fence of a middle school: free meals for kids. There were not that many people on the street. I saw a man singing and dancing next to a street. He might be high on drugs, but he seems happy. I saw another man yelling at the cars passing by, about how this country is unfair to African Americans. He might also be high on drugs, but he seems angry. I wonder if those two people had different drugs, or it's their attitude for life that kept them in two completely different states of emotion.

I saw a very beautiful house. The fences of that house were all decorated with wooden flowers on the top, painted in multiple colors. The house itself was completely different from others. The roof was shaped with a south-asian style, carved and painted. There flew two flags at the front of that house: one was the American flag, another was a flag with a pattern of a castle in the middle. I later found out that it was the flag of Cambodia.

It’s a beautiful place. People of all colors live together in this intensely diverse area, just like restaurants of many country’s flavors can coexist on the main street. Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, within the community, are there really labels that each member carries around. This is an opportunity, a fresh start, a path to achieve one's dream.

However, as we learned for class, there are a lot of things that must be done to support refugees. Simply transporting them into the US is not enough. Healthcare is important, both physically and mentally. Since a lot of the refugees came from conflict zones, they might have witnessed horrible things or have lost a close family member. They had to wait outside of the US for a long time to come into the country legally. All those lost years further adds burden to one’s mind. For children, it might be a loss of education or a loss of good guidance.

I understand that for some people, those who were born in this country, to have unfriendly thoughts on those who came as refugees. While a place that can’t take care of its own people, why does it want to act like a savior of the world. For those who escaped for their lives, were they always victims of someone else’s war. Maybe they were not capable of bringing a change, or maybe it's because great powers were involved in these wars. No matter what happened to those places, were they not the ones who had been entangled since their ancestors. Or does it fall into the narrative that foreign powers came and destroyed a life in harmony.

Maybe it is right for one to feel guilty, that they were somehow involved in the displacement of others. While displacements were not limited to those that we see as new, they might also be those that we already familiarized with. What happened to those who contributed to their land, both physically and mentally. When drama was part of the cause of their mental disorder, does bad choices still count as personal things to blame. Maybe the man who carries a toy fighter jet was used to working with a real one. Or maybe it is still the thing that he is proud of no matter what his situation is. For the man who still has a flag with him, I don’t know if that was just one of his limited number of properties, or maybe he still treasures some value that he used to guard with his life. Were their actions out of righteousness. It is for people to find out. All participants suffer from violence.

I wonder what refugees in City Heights would think of the dancing man. Who wouldn’t want a life that makes one forget about himself, herself, or themselves. Singing and dancing makes one seem happy, but who knows what is the agony inside. And who really cares about such unpleasant things. Some substances helped him fool himself, and those who are sober still closed their eyes on it. It is nothing special, just a usual scene on the street. Digging into it won’t make one fit into the trending subjects. Were their issues all because of themselves. Or is it the fault of others that caused such things. For those who escaped Afghanistan, what would they say when they see the drug that once poisoned their country is now a casual thing in their new home. Maybe they don’t have much to say, because those who were really harmed by the massive lands of those plants were not privileged enough to leave. They welcomed the voice that put a ban on drugs and urged for more production of food.

I wonder what refugees in City Heights would think of the angry man. When they see countless movements that speak out on the unfairness in this country, will they be surprised by another man who puts his anger on random others. Those who were privileged enough to leave a place that puts everyone in danger, are they frustrated with the injustice that many claimed. For those who escape horror caused by some ideologies, how would they support the arguments favored by those who were born and raised in a privileged paradise.

I sat in a small restaurant and had lunch. I enjoyed my food using my hands instead of a fork and knife. I didn’t ask for them, since I don’t want to be disrespectful. I hope I was eating the correct way. It is a restaurant owned by african americans. When they talk to each other, I can’t understand their language. They seem like very nice people. I hope they can succeed through their hard work.

When I walked past an elementary school, I was stopped by two boys. They asked me who my favorite rapper was, and I told them that I don’t listen to rap. They seem disappointed. Maybe in their thinking, all young people listen to rap. I remember the education problems for refugees that I learned in class. Maybe beyond the language barrier, a culture gap also prevents kids from integrating into the community.

Looking back at the display next to Weingart City Heights Library, a map of the world. I wish people from all countries and children from all cultures could enjoy this precious time of harmony in such a beautiful place.



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