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Democracy

Immigrants explain why they personally celebrate the Fourth of July each year.

This is what patriotism is all about.

4th of July, immigrants, celebration, assimilation, American pride
Photo collage created from Pixabay

Some different perspectives on the American experience.

Some 300 million people live in the United States. And over 40 million of them are immigrants.

Now, some people might have you believe that too many immigrants might cause us to lose our identity as Americans or that we ought to be fighting and clinging to "the way things were."

But if you look around, you'll see that more than 1 in 10 Americans were born somewhere else — meaning they have their own unique set of amazing experiences to share and their own amazing stories about why they're here.


They each have their own ideas about what being an American means to them, too. And they each have their own reasons for celebrating American independence on the Fourth of July.

So if you want to feel proud, excited, and maybe even a teensy bit emotional about being an American, this one's for you.

Meet five immigrants from all over the country (and all over the world!) who are showing their American pride in many, many shades of red, white, and blue this year.

Mexican American experience, traditional, celebration

Traditional food the celebrate the Fourth of July.

Photo by Chad Montano on Unsplash

1. Nayeli Ruvalcaba's Fourth of July is full of traditional Mexican food and mariachi music.

Ruvalcaba, who was born in Mexico but moved to Chicago when she was 4, spent her early childhood in a mostly caucasian neighborhood called Lakeview. There, she says the Fourth of July was pretty much what you'd expect.

"Everyone would be making ribs and burgers and mac and cheese. And my dad would be drinking Budweisers and Coors Light," she said with a laugh.

Nayeli with her parents.

But when she was 16, she moved to a more diverse area of the city filled with families from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Poland.

There, she says, their holidays are much more vibrant. Neighbors gather in the alleys and share their customs and cultures with one another. They sing along with music (her boyfriend, who is in a mariachi band, often gets the party going). They play games. And then there's the food: Nayeli says she loves to chow down on delicious Fourth of July dishes like arrachera (a Mexican skirt steak), polish sausage, guacamole, and, of course, burgers.

"I know it's an American holiday," she says. "Buteveryone has their own culture. You just mix it in with what everyoneelse does."

Nayeli and her boyfriend in full mariachi get-up!

watermelon, English tea, mishmash of culture

Celebrating with a U.K. twist on the Fourth of July.

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

2. Johanna Dodd and her family celebrate their Fourth of July the "old fashioned way" but with a small U.K.-based twist.

A one-year work contract for her husband brought the Dodds to Connecticut from the U.K. years ago. 12 years later, they're still here.

The Dodds!

On their Fourth of July, she says, "We tend to do what everyone else in town does. We'll head to the fireworks display with our cooler packed full of food, and, occasionally, we'll sneak in some alcohol."

Sounds pretty American to me!

Johanna's young daughter watches the fireworks.

"The kids run around, there's lots of glow sticks, lots of football (both kinds) being played, lots of fun stuff happening. As it gets darker, there's the national anthem, and then out come the fireworks."

But there is one slightly British twist to the Dodds' holiday: "We don't really do the tailgating thing. We bring what we would call 'an English tea.' There's watermelon, yogurts, cheese sandwiches. Kind of a mishmash of both cultures."

grilling, fish, Liberia, American experience

Bringing home country traditions to the American experience.

Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash

3. Martin Matthews says he never misses a Fourth of July parade and for a powerful reason.

Matthews was 8 years old when he first came to America to escape a civil war in his home country of Liberia. One of his first memories? A huge Fourth of July parade in New Jersey.

"I had never seen anything like that. The flags, the drums, everything. I remember watching in awe."

Martin with his wife.

He returned to Africa later on but came back to live in America again when fighting broke out in his home country. And when he returned, that big parade stuck in his memory.

"I always loved that about America. It was a place I could be safe. A place I could enjoy freedom," he said. "To celebrate the independence of the United States holds a deep place in my heart."

These days, Martin is big on having barbecues with friends to celebrate Independence Day. There are a lot of burgers and hot dogs, but he'll sometimes mix in traditional African dishes, too, like African-style kabobs, to introduce his friends to his heritage.

"It's a big thing in Africa for people to put fish on the grill, like the whole fish," he added. "You put the whole thing on there. It was the first time some of my American friends had ever tried fish on the grill that wasn't salmon."

But his favorite thing about the holiday is still the parades. "We get there early and wave our American flags. Every year I always wear some kind of American shirt. We sit there and watch everything. It's my way of saying thanks to my adopted country."

cricket, India, celebrating holiday, University of Michigan

Changing the rules to make it work.

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

4. Jay Pockyarath mixes cricket with an American-style barbecue on Independence Day.

"Ever since I was in eighth grade, all I wanted to do was come to the United States," he told Upworthy. After finishing college in India, he finally got the chance when studying nuclear medicine at the University of Michigan. From there, he married an American woman and started a family.

"The thing that works [in America] is that it's a meritocracy," Pockyarath said. "July Fourth is a celebration of that, in my mind. Of independence. Of the freedom to succeed."

Jay, who was born in India, proudly flies an American flag outside his home for July Fourth.

Pockyarath has lived in the United States for over 40 years, so it's no surprise that his holiday celebration looks pretty familiar: steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs on the grill. To him, what's really important is spending time with family.

"Usually we make up games," he laughed. "We play cricket — not the way it's supposed to be played, but with a tennis ball. We make up our own rules."

American flag, Fourth of July, friends and family, decorating

Embracing the traditions and bringing your own flare to it.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

5. Natalia Paruz is originally from Israel, and she decorates everything in red, white, and blue.

Natalia is now a musician in New York City.

"First I came here with my parents [about 20 years ago] for a year. At the end of the year, they went back to Israel, and I wanted to stay here," she told Upworthy.

Now she works as a musician in New York City. And she absolutely, positively loves the Fourth of July.

"It's a really fun day. It's a day where you can put politics aside. It's a day for celebrating the joy of this country."

Natalia and her husband host friends every year for a big meal. "I love decorating the house for the holiday with the flags. There's always a big flag hanging from the flagpole. In the back, that's where I really go all out. Every tree gets some kind of decoration!"

"We make hot dogs, hamburgers — how can you not?" she said. "We also make tahini, which is a traditional Israeli food. It's made of sesame seeds and it becomes a paste and you spread it on pita bread. Our friends here love it."

Natalia says an overabundance of food "as if you're going to entertain a bunch of soldiers" is a nod to her Israeli roots.

This year, she's going out with friends to watch fireworks. "I wear a T-shirt that has an American flag on it and a bracelet with the colors of the flag. If you're celebrating, you might as well go to the maximum."

It turns out, celebrating America means different things to different people. And that's kind of the point.

In my mind, the only thing better than a Fourth of July party filled with burgers, steaks, beer, and fireworks is a Fourth of July party filled with all of those things plus Mexican food and African music and "English tea" and tahini and mariachi bands and more.

So whether we choose to embrace the "American way" of celebrating Independence Day (red meat and fireworks) or to use it as a chance to celebrate the unique melting pot of culture that is our country today or something in between, I think we can all agree that the America we have now is already pretty great.

This article originally appeared on 07.01.16

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Prisma Photo via Canva/Bianca Marie Arreola via Canva

Women are trying Free People's 'micro shorts' with hilarious commentary


Summer is just around the corner, that means it's time to break out those razors and put on some shorts. That means retailers are starting to advertise their their summer collections to prime people for the newest trends. But there are some trends that may need to be retired before they catch on if you take the reviews of women online.

Free People, a specialty lifestyle brand for bohemian styled fashion, have released a new style of shorts. The internet seems to be slightly confused on if the material they received from the retail brand is supposed to be shorts or something else entirely. They're supposedly shorts, but they're "micro shorts," which are similar to shorts you'd see in the wild.

They have two leg holes, a hole for your body and less material than pants. Checks off all the requirements for a pair of shorts...except, they appear to be about the length of underwear. That's not an exaggeration and to prove that point a couple of women bought some to try on so you don't have to. The videos are not only honest but hilarious.


In one video Nicole Walters, a New York Times best selling author and mom to three girls decided to order the shorts to see how they looked on someone with, "thigh meat." She wears a size 12 and often jokes about being a curvier on the bottom. When she pulled the shorts out, it looked as if she was going to have to perform a magic trick to get them on. They looked to be the size a small child would wear, but they seemed to have gone on easily even though they looked extremely uncomfortable. She looked uncomfortable. The viewers likely looked uncomfortable.

"Oh wow. They're in there and by in there I mean everywhere. There's a lot of thigh meat happening right now in the, this region," Walters says as she gestures at her upper thighs. "There's some thigh meat, um...uh...I feel like they're definitely in some places that I didn't know I had."

Walter's review of the shorts has people in stitches as she jokes about her Christianity falling out of the shorts.

"It’s the Barbie walk for me lol!!! Thank you for your service," one person says.

"The way you warn us that you’re going to turn around almost made me scream with laughter," someone writes.

"I'm just going to go ahead and dial 911 for help bc looks like you may need the jaws of life to come out them shorts...lol!! Your commentary had me dying laughing..lol," another commenter jokes.

In another Free People "micro shorts" try on video, Nicole Story Dent braved the itty bitty shorts to show her audience the summer trend they can look forward to seeing. The first pair of shorts has multiple flaps that appear to be large pockets which inspires Dent to pretend to fly in them before the discomfort sinks in.

"It's kinda giving waitress...if they ever want to make a Waffle House-Hooters hybrid, we have their uniform, she says. "We have been asking for more pockets so they delivered. Speaking of delivered, you could deliver a baby without having to take these shorts off."

Dent guesses that the shorts would be more like "jundies" or "janties" than jorts, the shorthand term for jean shorts. Commenters couldn't stop laughing at her description of the shorts while others provided her with words of wisdom.

"Do NOT drop it low in these jundies, that kind of contact with the club floor is NOT hygienic," someone writes.

"'There is nothing vegan about these. There is absolutely a cat being harmed!' I’m cackling! You really should win something from Free People for this! @freepeople we found your next model," another person jokes.

"This is the kind of content the internet was made for, it’s just so good. However my thighs started getting chafed just watching this," someone laughs.

Surely these shorts were made for someone and they will look fabulous on whoever that person may be. But right now, there are a lot of confused, thoroughly tickled ladies on the internet who know they are not the target audience. If you're brave enough to give these micro shorts a try, go ahead and stock up on some baby powder for all the chaffing.


This article originally appeared on 3.22.24

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Image from YouTube video.

How to become the butt of a joke.


In case you were wondering, don't mess with comedian Steve Hofstetter. The stand-up comic posted a video of himself recently shutting down a heckler who didn't like Hofstetter taking a break from his routine to praise Jessica Mendoza, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Stanford graduate, who last year became the first female to call a professional baseball game.

"Next!" the heckler shouts. At first, Hofstetter is caught off guard but then he tries to give the guy a chance to explain what he found "offensive" about celebrating this historic moment in sports. "You and I can talk later," the anonymous guy says, directly challenging an earlier warning from Hofstetter to not approach comedians after shows.


Once the guy refuses to explain why he's offended, Hofstetter asks him to leave, saying not only is he being a jerk but he's not at least willing to stand up for his own beliefs. Then things get weird. It turns out the heckler is at the show with his family, including his daughters. "You have daughters and I was standing up for women's rights and you were offended by that," Hofstetter says. "I hope the rest of you are going to be okay later."

Unlike some heckler videos that drag on and on, this one is maybe most amazing in the way he gets shut down before he can even really get started. The whole video is funny, inspiring and just a classic example of a comedian taking down a heckler. Like near the end, when Hofstetter addresses a common trope of someone questioning why a male comedian needs to stand up for women's equality.

"As it turns out, I actually have a genetic history of women in my family," he says. "If you want to be a real man then respect the women in your life."


This article originally appeared on 04.26.19

Courtesy of Kisha Rose Woodhouse

Man surprises partner by performing haka alone at her graduation


Graduations can be emotional no matter if it's preschool, high school or college. Something about watching a loved one close one chapter to open a new one just does something to you. But sometimes people have a few more challenges getting across the stage that make it feel even sweeter.

One new mom, Kisha Rose Woodhouse, who goes by @kiisha.rose on TikTok, became pregnant and gave birth while finishing up her college degree. Clearly, determined to finish, Woodhouse walked across the stage at graduation with her baby on her hip. But that wasn't what got people all choked up while seeing her video, it was Woodhouse's partner who stood alone in the auditorium.

The man was visibly filled with pride from Woodhouse's accomplishments when he began doing the Tautoko, also known as the haka. Immediately the auditorium fell silent as the man's words and sharp movements filled the air. Seeing him perform such an emotional dance alone to honor his partner is enough to get just about anyone's eyes to water.


Woodhouse was visibly overcome with emotion when she heard her partner start the traditional Maori dance. While originally the haka was performed as a war dance, it has become a dance performed for major occasions, celebrations and funerals.

"Honestly that moment felt so surreal, it was completely unexpected and the way he expressed himself through his haka really summed up the respect and love we had for each other throughout all the challenges we faced to finally get me up on the stage and earn my diploma. And on that note, our son came with me as he deserved the diploma just as much as I did (he did attend every class while being in my tummy!)," Woodhouse tells Upworthy.

With everything the couple has been through up until that moment, it's no wonder they were both emotional. Their emotions and love can be felt through the video and it seems like just about everyone has something in their eye.

"I will never not cry when I see the haka. I think it's inside us as humans to know that outward display of passion, emotion and strength moves our souls. Imagine releasing that energy in celebration, in mourning or in the face of fear. You would never know what it meant to not face your emotions," one person writes.

"Performing haka alone, for her and their son, ALONE, in front of thousands. This is an existential form of love," another says.

@kiisha.rose One of the greatest moments 👩‍🎓 being able to walk across the stage with son and a surprise tautoko from my love ❤️ #maori #graduation ♬ original sound - kiisha.rose

"Whoa, that haka gave me goose bumps. You could hear a pin drop. Definitely felt the wairua [soul] in that one. Well done mama bear ka pai [good]. Good on you, someone writes, complete with heart emojis.

One commenter had a front row seat, "I was there graduating that day too and this made my eyes water! So beautiful."

It's nearly impossible to watch someone perform the haka without something getting into both of your eyes as you feel their passion move through you. If you've never seen the haka performed, you may want to grab a tissue because this is one of the most beautiful acts of love people get to witness.


This article originally appeared on 3.22.24

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.



His whole TV persona is based on being the world's worst boss.

Ramsay went on Reddit and allowed users to ask him any question they wanted.

So when a fellow cook asked him a sincere, deeply personal question about what to do when you've hit a roadblock in your career, you could probably guess what was coming.

economics, inspiration, mentorship

How do you deal with it Ramsay?

Indeed, I thought the guy was making a terrible mistake pouring his heart out to a chef as notoriously tough as Ramsay:

"My hopes and dreams are nowhere to be found as I scale and portion salmon after salmon, shelling pods after pods of broad beans.
...
Sometimes I look out the tiny window and I can see people walking around the streets, enjoying the sunlight, while I'm here, questioning my dedication to this art as I rotate stock in the cool room, getting frost bitten, but the fear of the chef stops me from stepping outside to warm up.
...
The closest thing to feeling any kind of joy I get is those rare moments when I walk through the dining room near the end of service to get some coffee for everyone, and there will be a few diners left, idly sampling those little petite fours that we've painstakingly ensured are all perfectly round, identical, and just plain delicious. Then, one of them will stop the conversation they're having with their company, look up from their food and say, 'Thank you, chef. This is delicious,' and making the previous 14-hours of sweat and tears kind of worthwhile.

My question is, how did you deal with it? How the fuck did you deal with all the bullshit, Gordon?”

But the way Ramsay responded? Totally amazing. And completely unexpected.

uplifting, chef, labor laws

That’s an amazing question.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Turns out, real-life Gordon Ramsay? He actually can be a really kind, big-hearted dude.

He's sympathetic to the guy. Not just because he's a good person. But because he's been there.

Working in restaurants is a tough, tough business. As of 2012, the average salary for cooks was less than $23,000/year. And those who are just starting out often have to work unglamorous, tedious jobs that no one else wants to do. Ramsay didn't have fancy culinary school training. He rose up through the ranks putting in long hours for low pay in kitchens all over the world. That's why he gets it.

Which brings up another point.

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - Find & Share on GIPHY

diners, food, job security, restaurants

(Does this salad dressing have black pepper in it?? No tip for you!)

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - from GIPHY.

When we go out to eat, we, as a culture, tend to behave ... how should I put this?

Let's go with "not like perfect angels."

Of course, no one likes getting the wrong order. Or waiting a really long time for a meal. Or eating something that doesn't taste the way you expect it to.

But it's important to remember that the people behind the food, like Ramsay's anonymous letter-writer, might be working 14-hour days. Or might be a recent immigrant who speaks limited English, trying to support a family thousands of miles away. And possibly making very little money. And sure, they screw up sometimes. But we all screw up at our jobs sometimes.

Because they, like the rest of us, are human beings.

Which is why saying...

"Thank you, chef. This is delicious."

Could mean everything to someone.


This article originally appeared on 04.22.15

Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.




Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.


But eventually, life moved on and so did he. He fell out of love with photography. "Those pictures collected dust for 25 years," he says.

Then, a few years ago, Porsz found those 30- to 40-year-old photos and sent them to be printed in his local newspaper.

Peterborough, reunions, Chris Porsz

Chris Porsz and his camera.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

And remarkably, people started recognizing much younger versions of themselves in his shots. "There was this lightbulb moment," he says of the first time someone wrote to him about one of his photos.

Eventually, he became curious about the people he'd photographed all those years ago, and he decided he'd try to find some of them. It wouldn't be easy — the photos were taken a long time ago, and Porsz didn't have names or contact information for many of the people in them.

But he did find some of them, sometimes in extraordinary ways. "Some were absolute million-to-one coincidences," he says.

Like the time he went out on a call (he's a parademic these days) at 3 a.m., and the man he was there to treat recognized him as the photographer who'd snapped his picture all those years ago. On another call, he asked a local shopkeeper if he recognized any of the subjects in the photos. He did.

Once Porsz began posting about the project online — he calls it "Reunions" — it became easier and easier to reconnect with his former subjects.

Many were eager to recreate the old shots as best they could, like Layla Gordon, who Porsz originally photographed drinking milk in 1983.

time, memories, photos

The child version drinking milk.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

milk, history, project

The adult enjoys milk too.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Others groups, like these schoolgirls, had fallen out of touch. "Reunions," fittingly enough, brought them back together.

schoolgirls, pose, soul mate

Schoolgirls pose for a photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

best friends, intimate, confidant

The adult versions find time for a group photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Porsz says that his subjects, like this wild-haired couple, were strangers to him 30 years ago. Now he considers many of them friends.

punk rock, narrative, archive

Pink colored hair and mohawks.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

record, story, account

The color has moved to the sleeves.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

In all, Porsz has collected over 130 before-and-afters in his new book.

The response to Porsz's work has been more than he ever imagined.

He's personally heard from people all over the world who've been inspired by his project and want to try to recreate it themselves. But beyond that, he just hopes it brings a little warmth and happiness to the people who see it.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile," he says. "Because there is so much sadness in the world."

And while the project is finished for now, don't count out the possibility of "Reunions Part 2" somewhere down the line.

"I'd love to meet these guys in 2046 when I'm 94 years old," Porsz says.


This article originally appeared on 11.30.16