Feature: Migration Lens

Marina Murayama Nir

Mila, Samantha, and Stephanie moved to the U.S. via Quito, Ecuador and Tijuana, Mexico in 2012 to pursue undergraduate studies in music performance. Mila (viola) and Samantha (cello) came to Western Illinois University as part of the International String Quartet residency program. Samantha found out about the quartet scholarship through her sister, Stephanie, who at the time already accepted a scholarship for the cello program at University of Wyoming.

Mila and Sam are two of my best friends. We spent three years performing in our college orchestra and lived together to varying degrees. We also went through typical best friend things: silly road trips, break-ups and loss, and celebrations of all kinds. Since it was time-consuming and costly to travel back and forth from the States to their countries, holidays were often spent with me and my family in Chicago. Likewise, Mila, Samantha and Stephanie’s families have treated me like their own, and have made me feel just as welcome. By the time I met Stephanie in person a few years down the road, we had already been close for a long time. (I only spent a weekend with Stephanie in person, but I’d known a lot about her because of Samantha. Stephanie’s interview was special to me because I had known so much already, but to hear her talk about her own experiences and about the events from her perspective gave me more insight into how amazing she really is.)

I was interested to see how each of their concepts of home evolved over the past five years, and wanted to explore points in time where they realized they were uncertain of whether they would return to their home countries. Throughout their time in the States, the three musicians met their own share of challenges and surprises, but most importantly, I have seen them provide strength, generosity, and patience to each other and the people they have encountered along the way.

Mila Mila Margarita is a violist from Quito, Equador. She graduated from Western Illinois University in 2016 and is currently pursuing a Masters in Viola Performance at the University of Oklahoma.



samantha picture Samantha is a cellist from Tijuana, Mexico. She graduated from Western Illinois University in 2016 and is currently pursuing a Masters in Cello Performance at the University of Maryland, College Park



stephanie picture Stephanie is a cellist from Tijuana, Mexico. She will be graduating from University of Wyoming this May and will begin a Master in Cello Performance this fall at the University of Nebraska


Marina Murayama Nir is the music editor at Culturework Magazine