Plaza Voices: Mementos from Home

by Breanne Vailes

People’s senses can transport them from the present to moments living only in their memories. Sometimes objects from previous homes have distinct smells, or the texture of a decades-old fabric provides them comfort as a remnant of peaceful times. Sometimes the sight of a piece of jewelry, old and beautiful, reminds them of previous owners who are dear to them. 

For people living outside their homeland, objects can foster an invaluable connection to home. Both customers and staff who immigrated to the United States have shared their mementos from home and their oral histories with the Denver Public Library. The Mementos From Home audio-visual project can be viewed online and will also be on display at the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Branch Library until the end of February 2020.

Whether experiencing the project online or in-person, you will find perspectives shared by people from diverse countries. Yet, common themes—a feeling of comfort from the past, a sense of pride in one’s heritage, and an enriching sentiment that prior experiences have shaped one’s identity—are intertwined in the narratives. When life is difficult, taking out a memento can bring a calm assurance: the memento has endured, and so can they. And when life is happy, an object from home elicits gratitude for the journey that brought them to the present. 

Nostalgia is a universal sentiment that is sometimes more poignant for those far from home. Take a look and listen to what the Mementos from Home contributors have to share. The mementos and memories may seem different from your background, and that is part of what makes Mementos from Home so fascinating. Yet, some of the contributors' words might spark similar deep-down feelings tucked into your own memories.

Plazas are an open community space where migrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help! Please see our web page for more information.

Written by Plaza Voices on January 31, 2020