Marachucha: An immigration story (part I)

Lorvelis A. Madueño (photo provided by: Lorvelis A. Madueño and the Neighborhood Story Project)

I was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. I moved to New Orleans in the summer of 2014 with my sister, Loraine and her wife, Ruth. Before coming to New Orleans, my sister and I used to live in a small, private urbanization in the Northern side of Maracaibo. It was a very quiet area despite the heavy traffic and big constructions that surrounded it.

I have moved twice while living in New Orleans. When we first got here, we lived in Poeyfarre Street in the heart of the Warehouse District. Our apartment was on the third floor of a small building, and I had a balcony right outside of my room. Usually, I would wake up really early to watch the sunrise. The mix of orange, red, and yellow in the sky reminded me of Maracaibo.

In the summer of 2016, we moved to a bigger house in Central City. Even though I don’t have a balcony anymore, I can still see the sunrise from my window quite often.

I fell in love with New Orleans the moment I got here. It is a very distinct city with delicious food, beautiful landscapes, and amazing people. I believe I could use these same adjectives to describe Maracaibo to a stranger.

By comparing and contrasting my life experiences, and those of my sister, in Maracaibo and New Orleans I wish to offer my perspective, emotions, and thoughts on this geographical and cultural change in my life. I hope that by exploring some of our life experiences, this ethnographic project will shed light on the importance of storytelling for immigrants living in the U.S. I believe all immigrants have stories, and I hope that mine will actually motivate others to share theirs.

Part 2: Truth in Pieces of Paper

Editor’s Note: This story is one of a series reprinted from the book A Guide to South Louisiana: Stories of Uncommon Culture. Each author was a student in Rachel Breunlin’s “Storytelling and Culture” course for the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans in the Spring of 2017. The Neighborhood Story Project sponsored the project as part of its mission to publish collaborative ethnography in high quality books in which the authors receive royalties for their creative labor.


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