Story by REBECCA EVERETT
Photographs by Jerry Roberts
Courtesy of the Daily Hampshire Gazette
HOLYOKE -- Far from the classroom, a busload of college students steps out onto a sidewalk on East Dwight Street in South Holyoke. Students clutch notebooks and look around at aging multi-family apartment buildings and the community garden sandwiched in between.
The largely low-income area is downhill and across the canals from the rest of Holyoke and a world away from Victorian homes in North Holyoke.
"When you talk about the Puerto Rican community in Holyoke, this is it," Maria Cartagena tells the class. She is a coordinator with Five Colleges Inc. "When Holyoke was built, it was designed for there to be a separation of classes. This area was built for the workers. This was originally the French Canadian part of the city, then Polish, then Irish."
The upper-level research seminar, called Immigrant City, focuses on Holyoke as an example of a small industrial city that drew waves of immigrants while prospering -- and even through its decline.
The local subject matter is not the only thing unique about the class. The course includes both Amherst College and Holyoke Community College students and is co-taught on both campuses and at HCC's downtown campus by two professors, one from each school.