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Opinion: Local is Personal. Local is National

This election cycle has attempted to highlight the differences between small towns and big cities, between wall street and main street.  We—as citizens—have been asked to align ourselves on a "side" of just about every imaginable division.  In my 26 years, I’ve lived in 5 states, 3 countries and more than 20 houses/apartments/dorm rooms. My nomadic tendencies have made me realize that the issues I think most affect my local community are the issues that I am more apt to notice. For better or worse, my personal history has shaped my awareness and prioritization of local issues.  

In my local community of Morningside Heights, I’m interested in the impact of immigrants on the New York City economy.  I wonder how much of my interest in this subject stems from the fact that far before debate questions on drivers licenses or the national infatuation with securing the border, my family’s hometown of El Paso struggled to find a way to curb the number of border femicides.  The nuances of border regions and immigrant rights are deeply personal issues to residents of border towns.  While my current neighborhood is far from a border town, there are certainly tensions that parallel some of the sentiments found in El Paso. Morningside Heights is a community shared by members of the Columbia University community and residents of Harlem. While the tension felt in New York is far less severe than that of the US/Mexico border, I can’t help but see similarities.  On election day, thousands of members from both communities will go to the same school gymnasium and cast their vote for president.  On that day, my focus will be swayed by a curiosity to witness a rare meeting of the local communities for a common cause: democracy. I wait with eager anticipation to experience and document that day.