Photo: Constantino Diaz-Duran
Constantino Diaz-Duran decided that before he officially becomes a U.S. citizen, he wants to walk across the country and meet his soon-to-be-fellow Americans.
On the 4th of July, Diaz-Duran, 31, a Guatemalan immigrant, set off on foot from New York, NY and began his journey to Los Angeles, CA.
The writer and fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University is on a mission “to gain a better understanding of what it will mean to finally be an ‘American.’”
Along Diaz-Duran’s journey, he will be speaking with the people of the variying backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles to ask them what being an American means to them.
According to his online diary, on August 15th, the walker was in Virginia, where he met Ana, who introduced him to her friend Chuck and his partner, Jack. The couple, aside from having six children, have turned their three bedroom home into a 10 bedroom home, and have opened their doors to as many people as they find in need of a place to stay.
As of late, Chuck and Jack have even opened their home to undocumented immigrants who have had a hard time finding work and subsequently a place to stay.
“They can’t afford to pay a lot in rent, so we let them come here,” Jack said, “and if they can’t afford to pay us, then they help out with repairs around the house, cleaning, or gardening.”
While these guys were just some of the Americans he has/will meet along his journey, Diaz-Duran is clearly getting to know America.
And as he makes his way across the country he sends postcards to his favorite spot near his New York home, First Ave. Coffee Shop, where, before he left, the shop’s regulars pooled money to buy him a tent and a sleeping bag.
Along the way, Diaz-Duran will be traveling through Alabama, where many would assume the welcoming with not be as warm as Chuck and Jack.
“They just passed those awful laws. I’m curious to see what it’s like there,” he said.
In Alabama, it is now illegal to give an undocumented immigrant a ride, and though Diaz-Duran is in the country legally, his ethnicity may cause some issues in not only Alabama, but Arizona, and other states with similar laws.