Meet Erin Aagesen, New Routes Intern
My name is Erin Aagesen and I am a graduate student studying Life Sciences Communication and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin. This spring and summer, I will be working as an intern at New Routes because I am interested in the ways that communication, culture and health intersect.
1. If you are an immigrant, tell us what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. If you are not an immigrant, tell us how the immigrant issue touches you on personal level.
Some of my first and favorite memories of my childhood involve spending time with my grandmother, a second-generation Italian immigrant. She grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Hibbing, Minnesota, where her father worked as a miner. Her first language was Italian, and she grew up surrounded by Italian culture and people. To keep the culture of her youth alive, she used to teach me Italian words and phrases; her favorite nickname for me translated loosely into “messy little girl.” There was always a huge map of Italy on the wall in her kitchen, and her house was always filled with the earthy herb-and-tomato smell of pasta sauce. For me, my grandmother has always embodied what it meant to simultaneously embrace two cultures, learning from and contributing to both. Because of her pride, I always identified closely with my Italian heritage and sought out opportunities to learn about life beyond my community.
2. Tell us about an interesting or wise practice from another culture that you wish people in the United States would adopt.
Most of the world’s cultures are far more communal and community-oriented than we are in the United States. I think our culture places too much emphasis on independence and privacy, resulting in lifestyles that are often fragmented and isolating. Our homes are fenced and separated and we keep our joys and our problems to ourselves. Adults drive their children to activities, but may not have time to foster their own relationships. A friend of mine recently traveled to Spain, and she described—somewhat longingly—how intergenerational groups of friends and families met in public spaces such as parks in the evenings. The children played together, and the adults socialized, walked and unwound from their day. Everyone’s needs were met. I think our culture could learn a lot from this example. If we just open up to each other, our lives will be much more fulfilling.
Topics: New Routes Leaders
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.