Macaulay Honors College Seminar 2, IDC 3001H

Immigrants Across the Board

As I was walking from the 6 train station to school after a nauseating commute, the smells of the city began hitting me from all different angles. The overwhelming smell of the early morning was that of the Halal food trucks. It was 8:15am.

The aroma was obvious and present which made me think, “if they’re already populating the streets with their smell at 8:15am, what time did they have to wake up? What time did they get here? How did they get here? How long did they sleep?” All these questions puzzled me on my walk to class.

This project is not just a way of us getting the inside scoop of halal carts and everything that goes into that business, it is a way to broaden our understanding of the city and its people. Halal cart workers are just one example of those immigrants that absolutely bust their behinds in order to make a living. They are everyday reminders of where most of us came from and how we got to the places we’re at right now. The answers to many of the interview questions that we conduct are the same answers that my parents would give to a question like “why are you doing this job?” The hard work, dedication and resilience of the workers are all traits that stretch among the line of those that came here to achieve the American Dream, even if it seems like a steep hill to climb. However, the  fact that these workers are on the streets and attracting people of various demographics, making money, and coming home to their families is an American Dream in and of itself.

The project is raw, intriguing and eye-opening to us who are conducting it and hopefully to the prospective people that are going to read it.


  1. Will Zeng

    Hi Elina,
    I love the phrase “bust their behinds” and I totally agree with you that these Halal Cart workers must work incredible hours, but speaking from a personal perspective, my parents do too. I can even begin to fathom the life that my parents lived and I feel like most times I’m just a bystander and freeloader to their life and hard work. They built this life. I was just lucky enough to be born into it.
    Interesting ideas!

  2. Brianna Gelsomini

    Hi Elina,

    I really liked the perspective that you gave on Halal Cart workers. Quite frankly, not many people think about the arduous tasks that come along with being a Halal Cart worker. They have to make the food early in the morning just to prepare for their hungry customers during lunch. It really wasn’t until this project in which I decided to take a deeper look into the life of a halal cart worker. I never realized how much time and effort they put into making a small food stand great.

  3. Belinda Wong

    Hi Elina,

    Just like you, I hope that this project inspires and gives the same eye-opening experience for our future readers. Yet, I also hope this experience sticks to us as well for many of these eye-opening experiences are a first for many.

    We are privileged enough to not recognize these hardships from a glance whereas this is a reality for many including the people we’ve interviewed, their families, and of course the many that we have not encountered yet. I hope with this experience, we will be able to use our privilege and voice to speak for those who cannot and inspire those who are also unaware to be more appreciative of their more comfortable lifestyles and more empathetic to those who aren’t as fortunate.

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