A Graduate History student contributes to a more complete picture of essential workers’ pandemic experiences for future researchers

Micaela Miralles Bianconi
“This was an opportunity to give voice to people who have no voice in society.”

— Micaela Miralles Bianconi ’21 MA on why she was inspired to take action as a project assistant with “Rural Voices/Voces del Campo,” part of “Documenting the Undocumented”

Native Argentinian Micaela Miralles Bianconi ’21 MA put her bilingual skills to exceptional use as a project assistant for an oral history project funded in part by a COVID-19 grant from Villanova’s Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest. Students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire gathered the oral histories of Spanish-speaking migrant workers in an effort to understand what life is like for these rural essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project was launched with a COVID-19 grant from Villanova's Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest, and later brought Micaela on through the center's Summer Internship program.

In the process of remotely transcribing, translating and organizing their words starting in June 2021, Micaela discovered that fear is a dominant thread in the tapestry of many immigrant experiences.

“For many migrant workers, fear is everywhere. They are extremely aware of the dangers of this pandemic and the risks it holds. Because some are undocumented, they are afraid to ask for help,” she says. “As an immigrant myself, I have a great deal of privilege that I have taken for granted. These immigrants showed me another side of the immigrant experience."