We started off the day with a lecture on the border wall and housing in the valley. One impact that stuck out was the ecological consequences of the wall; when a city in Mexico flooded, the wall prevented water from draining out and kept buildings underwater by feet, while the US side had basically no water. After the talk we went to a farmer’s market down the road from LUPE that had rows upon rows of clothing, veggies and knick-knacks. The market has been busy every day this week, like an outdoor mall. After another delicious home made lunch we headed to work on a neighborhood that’s being built for families in need of homes. The construction follows the same motto as LUPE’s other services: we do not do for others what they can do for themselves. So basically program builds homes for those in need, but requires that they put in work hours of their own. This gives the families a sense of ownership right off the bat when they move in. After the work day was done half of us headed back to LUPE for a youth meeting. It was amazing talking to people our own age about problems they have to deal with every day; getting work and not getting pulled over while driving are just two problems they face daily, in addition to fighting for immigration reform that could give them a pathway to citizenship. Hearing stories from people who are so relatable gives you a real sense of what’s really going on around the border. And finally our day was capped off with a visit from Penny, the adorable dalmation-mix puppy.
The first non-travel day of ASB Texas was very relaxed, but still informative and fun. We began the day by visiting the Santa Ana wildlife refuge where we learned a lot about the local flora and fauna that is essentially unique to this area. After that, we had lunch and proceeded to our site for the first time this trip for an introductory session with the communications and volunteer director for LUPE, John Michael. We learned a lot about the mission of LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero) and were given a general idea of some of the activities we will be doing all week. To conclude, we went to Wendy’s and gave the manager a letter explaining the cheap immigrant labor behind their food, particularly the Florida tomatoes. It was a success! We then went to the beach for a bit, had dinner and then reflected on the day.
The introduction to what we will be doing at LUPE and tonight’s reflection got me very excited for this trip. I am curious to learn more about the different issues surrounding immigration reform and to help facilitate positive changes as much as I can. Furthermore, we had such a constructive and positive reflection on only the second day, so I am excited to reflect better with the group as there is more information to reflect on. In the short time I have been in Texas, I can already tell that this is going to be a great trip, and am excited to see it get better and better as the week goes on.
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” (César Chávez).
Today was full of traveling! Our entire team met at the Newark airport around 9:30 this morning and slowly made it through check-in and security. Fortunately, we had smooth flights! We expected to be fed on our three hour flight, however, so we came off of the plane starving! Getting the keys to our rental vans was easy. We drove to the church and were all pleasantly surprised with our living conditions. The church/school we are staying is is amazing! Not to mention how sweet Matthew, the volunteer coordinator, is! The school/church has everything: basketball courts, volleyball court, kitchens, couches, and showers.
After we toured where we are staying, we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We had to wait for a table for a long time, but it gave us the chance to bond and get to know everyone a little better. The food and people were great! After dinner we headed back to where we are staying ( St. Paul’s), reflected, and went to bed. We were all exhausted!
Everyone in the McAllen/ San Juan area is so sweet! We definitely stand out that we aren’t from Texas, though. We got asked many times where we are from. It looks like we are driving through Mexico when we pass all of the signs in Spanish. It’s a good thing we have a few people who know Spanish well! It is very warm and dry. It was surprising to see some grass and many palm trees in such a desert-like area! I’m sure our week will be full of many more surprises!
At Newark airport waiting for our plane! Im a bit sad that break is over but at the same time Im extremely happy to finally experience an incredible week in Texas. The topic of Immigration is well known in my community because my family has migrated to the U.S. couple of years ago. We are now U.S. citizens however I know that undocumented individuals come across several obstacles, specially kids who come at a younger age. I know that life is not always fair but being able to help the needed ones is necessary. Also we will be enjoying a warmer weather thats a plus :)
On the eve of my second ASB trip, I am very excited because I know how awesome ASB trips are. I am very excited to grow close to a new group of people and learn about a social issue that I have far less experience with than the one last year. For the Texas trip, the social issue is immigration reform, an issue which I have read a little about and am interested to apply my knowledge and facilitate positive and lasting change firsthand. I have also never been to Texas, so I am excited to do community service in a new place as well. For our pre-service event, we went to Philadelphia for midnight run, which was a great bonding experience for the members that could go and was a great way to help those less fortunate. I am looking forward to continuing that work and do more things like it in Texas. I am very excited to embark on another ASB trip and hopefully I can get as much out of it, if not more, than I did on the Virginia trip last year!
Can’t wait to depart for Texas tomorrow! While immigration reform is not a social issue I’ve had much experience with or knowledge about previously, I’m really excited to learn. It should definitely be a different experience than I’ve had the opportunity of having before, which is great–it’s always good to open your mind to a new issue. I’m also really looking forward to being somewhere warmer than 30 degrees, and my team isn’t such bad company either ;).
The time has come! Tomorrow I am off to Texas. As I sit here wondering what awaits me on my week long journey, a mixture of anxiety and excitement churns inside of me. This is my first experience with ASB, so I’m not really sure what to expect. That makes me a tad nervous. But when I look at the itinerary, the excitement kicks in. I think that this will be an extremely fun and fascinating adventure! I can really connect with the social issue of immigration reform because when I was a Junior in high school, I tutored a Chinese doctor working at Emory University Hospital. I helped him work on his English grammar and pronunciation of English words. While he learned English, I learned a lot about him and his Chinese culture. Hopefully I will be able to learn just as much from those I meet in Texas! I can’t wait to finally venture to the lone star state!
After all our work this semester it’s finally time for Texas, and we’re less than a day from travel. We’ll leave Newark’s frigid temperatures tomorrow and arrive in warm San Juan by evening. I can’t wait to see firsthand everything we’ve been learning about and start working on our project. From our late nights selling coffee to getting lost in Philly on Midnight Run, we’re ready for a new challenge. I’m excited to do something new and learn from some incredible individuals, and it all starts tomorrow.
We leave for the trip in four days! I’m getting very anxious. I think we all will have a wonderful time and make a real difference in Texas. I’m excited to understand how the immigrants feel when they first enter America and how they learn to assimilate into our culture. My favorite thing will be seeing children! I’m looking forward to seeing my team again, but i’m dreading packing. It will all be completely worth it in the end, though! See you all in a few days! :)
I’m so ridiculously excited to go to San Juan with my team! Only a week and a handful of days to go. After going to Philly for the Midnight Run with some of my teammates, I can definitely tell that I’m going to enjoy my experience with my peers. I can’t wait to learn about immigration rights and meet with the locals!