Victoria McClain

Postcard Image for Victoria McClain

I support the immigrant community.”

As a child I remember growing up seeing my mother watering her potted plants in the apartment.  I never thought anything of it at the time. I knew I wanted to help but I was too young to carry the water.  Then one day I was at my Grandmother’s house visiting with my brother and my cousin, when my Grandmother requested our help in her garden. Prior to that, I thought flowers grew beautifully in the ground on its own without any assistance. I was truly wrong.

Working in a garden or yard is hard work. After my childhood experience in the yard I never wanted to do it again. My Grandmother did not care that we did not like gardening.  You see, my Grandmother was raised on a farm where they grew various crops and slaughtered cows and pigs. My Grandmother, Alice Askew, was born to sharecroppers in Columbus, Mississippi in 1931. During the “Great Migration” my Grandmother came to Chicago and settled on the westside of Chicago in the Austin Community.

Growing up I would spend many summers at my Grandmother’s home; helping her in the garden planting seeds, pulling weeds, and watering her plants.  My mother told me that my Grandmother has always had a garden, since she could remember. My Mother also said that this why she has to have potted plants; it reminds her of her mother’s garden and her grandmother’s garden. After my great mother stopped sharecropping, she moved to Memphis and had a garden in her yard.  My mother would go in the yard with her “Big Ma” and pick vegetables from her garden to be cooked for dinner. I remember the summer of 2009 before my Grandmother past, she told me to go get some vegetables out of her garden.  I picked some of the sweetest green tomatoes I had ever had.

I have always had an affinity for plants and being sustainable. I think that has a lot to do with being raised around plants and gardens. I remember watching my Mother and Grandmother love their plants with sunshine and water. It is funny how children repeat what they see as adults; I now find myself talking to plants whenever I am gardening.

The Butterfly postcard campaign was developed by the UIC Latino Cultural Center in collaboration with student organizations Fearless Undocumented Alliance and Heritage Garden Student Group that highlights the parallels between the migration of people and Monarch butterflies across national borders.

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How does it feel when you’ve moved from the neighborhood that was familiar to you or the country where you grew up? What were some of the challenges that you confronted in this new place? What or who helped you adapt to this new place?
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You can also pick up a postcard at the UIC Latino Cultural Center and mail it to someone that can help improve the lives of immigrants.