Thomas Corcoran Higgins
I personally have had the privilege of being born and raised in New York. As one grows up in New York they get to experience all the different aspects that the city has to offer. I remember when I was a junior in High School I was enrolled in a Chinese class that spent many Fridays exploring China Town to practice our Chinese. That was an eye opening experience for me. I got to see the city that I called home in a very new light and was able to learn from a completely different culture that geographically is right next door. I have had a similar experience in learning about the diverse community of Jackson Heights. Seeing all the different types of people that call Jackson Heights home and learning about the transformations that the area has experienced has been very interesting and educational for me.
Jackson Heights as a location is rich in so many ways. Its architecture, advertisements, smells, sounds and general flow of people are both very similar to the feel of the rest of New York but altogether very different. On one street you can see signs in three different languages. On one block there are authentic Tibetan, Indian and South American restaurants. Each of the cultures that reside in Jackson Heights have added to its identity to create the unique atmosphere that it has today. One of the most interesting experiences I had while exploring Jackson Heights was seeing a church that had been recently acquired by the Buddhist community and converted into an area for Buddhist study, meditation and rituals (image can be seen on the “Tibetan Immigration” page). The community didn’t appear to react badly but rather seemed to welcome the new step in its development. This type of reaction speaks to the ever evolving nature of the area. Jackson Heights is such a great area for incoming immigrants to New York because of this immense diversity. With so many different cultures coming together it seems impossible for anyone to feel like an outsider. The account from the three people I interviewed increased my belief in this. Even with the drastically different perspective and histories of the three interviews, they all had one giant thing in common: they all love where they live.
I think that there are many great areas of study that would be interesting to delve into. Especially if one were to focus on the ever growing Tibetan community. Understandably my brief examination of Jackson Heights with a Tibetan perspective has truly just scratched the surface. I think the true socioeconomic profile of the community would be very interesting and I think would be very fruitful as a study into the effects of strongly diverse societies. I truly have enjoyed learning the little I have about Jackson Heights and the diverse community that lives there and hope I have an opportunity to learn more about it in the future. In conclusion, I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t already to go walk around Jackson Heights, say hi to a few people, and try the awesome food!