1/19 McAllen: The Reality of Immigration

McAllen has already surprised our team in many ways. First, we were greeted by plam trees and warm weather after a cloudy flight. We settled in to St. Peter’s, our home base for the week. Not only have we experienced hospitality within the school and our community partner, Alyssa; we have experienced the work of an immigrant assistance program. It was incredible to see how many people are served within a small community. I did not fully understand the process of immigration, the difficulties of getting into the country, separation of family members, detention centers, the role of the cartel and coyotes, and sponsors. It was a truly remarkable experience to work directly with families that traversed the Rio Grande. Though they have been through so much to reach this point and thought they have such a challenging journey ahead, they have maintained incredible spirit. Despite all the hardship, these families were able to smile. We played such a small part in there journey but we witnessed the beginning of a fresh start in the US – a shower, soup, clean clothes, toiletries and a backpack, a nap in a cot. We fumbled with our limited spanish language skills to assist families to the best of our ability. All we could say as they left to catch their buses was “buena suerte.” I hope these people and the many families we did not have the pleasure of meeting can find peace and happiness. I am eager to move forward with service – to meet students and faculty of IDEA schools and uncover how the issues of immigration and education coalesce here in McAllen.

ROOTS: ready to go!

I am so excited to leave for TN this Saturday; I’ve never been to this part of the country! I am looking forward to meeting members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and spending some much-needed time outdoors. I have had so much fun getting to know my teammates this past fall so I know this trip is going to be amazing. I am eager to learn more about the customs and daily life of this culture. I know very little about the tribe, but I know I will learn a great deal as this week goes on. The Eastern Band of Cherokee avoided the Trail of Tears, which is why they are able to remain in North Carolina and Tennessee, along the Great Smoky Mountains. I am excited to see how they interact with their environment. I am eager learn about homesteading, help with trail repair, remove invasive species, interact with the community, and see what else our hosts have in store for us! Maybe we’ll get to do some hiking too! I hear we are going to learn some Cherokee games. Hopefully, we will learn more about their history and the Smoky Mountain region from their perspective! No matter what our hosts have planned, I know this will be a rewarding and unforgettable experience for all of us :D LET’S GO ROOTS!