I’d gone to Chinatown before, but only when I looked closely did I see how waves of immigration have shaped its character and history.

I’d gone to Chinatown before, but only when I looked closely did I see how waves of immigration have shaped its character and history.


By Maya Barr

It is easy to take for granted the lessons one can learn just a subway ride away.

I live in New York City, not too far from Chinatown. For some time I have wanted to learn about Chinese immigration to America, and instinctively I looked towards Chinatown. Although I had previously been to the neighborhood, I never had gone with a view to learning.

After visiting and researching the neighborhood, I realized that Chinatown is more than the story of immigrants from China. This area in the south of Manhattan has also been the home of Jewish, Italian and Irish migrants. Their cultures and customs may have differed, but they melded together and formed intricate connections that last to this day.

Chinatown highlights the beauty of immigration.

As I deepened my understanding of immigration, I wanted to share what I was learning.

Before visiting Chinatown, I studied how to film: how to adjust the camera’s perspective and to bring the viewer into the scene. After filming, I sharpened my skills with editing programs like iMovie to fuse my research and voice.

I was able to incorporate my knowledge while learning along the way.

Ultimately this project made me even more thankful for immigration. Despite racism, exclusion and discrimination, the architecture and culture of Chinatowns around the world highlight the beauty of immigration.


Chinatown,immigrationMaya Barr is in her second-to-last year of high school at the Hewitt School in New York City. She facilitates “Lunch and Learn” talks, writes for the Hewitt Times newspaper and works for a kinder world at Riley’s Way. Barr enjoys spending free time with friends and family.

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