I interviewed Meshate Mengistu who I met at the Southern Sudanese Community Center during my third site visit. Meshate Mengistu is the Community Health Organizer for UWEAST, she organizes doctors to come visit the center once a month. The interview took place at UWEAST on May 22, 2018. Meshate is extremely passionate about every topic we talked about as she goes in depth about her Ethiopian and American background, family, culture, traditions, her memories, as well as how she navigates her community in San Diego.
For the project I was inspired by our entire conversation, I wanted to create an image that displays what she emphasized throughout the interview. “To Know Where You’re Going, You Have to Know Where You Come From” is a painting that I believe embodied my conversation with Meshate Mengistu. The quote I painted on canvas was the piece of advice Meshate wanted to pass onto younger generations because it’s something she learned to understand over the years. She emphasized the importance of knowing your roots and history in order to pave way for the future.
The popcorn beside the quote has specs of black showing it’s burnt because she told me a funny story about her microwaving popcorn causing her family to wake up because she burnt it. She mentioned popcorn a few times, whether it was a traditional birthday food or just a snack between her and her sister. I thought it was important to add pieces of the interview when she laughed and reminisced about her childhood. The plane represents her leaving her home, Ethiopia, only to arrive to her new home, City Heights. Throughout the interview, when Meshate would talk about home she would reference both Ethiopia and San Diego. Although both homes are apart both parts are still under the same sky. Meshate is overlooking a skyline meshing both of her “homes,” including City Height buildings, skyscrapers from Ethiopia, and the Coronado Bridge. The sunset describes the vibe of the interview, it was informal and relaxing yet informative, it’s like talking to a friend while watching the sun go down.