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.

At the Immigration Center

Today was our first day of service on our trip, and it couldn’t have been more rewarding! Even though the past few days have been really fun, including a team trip to the beach and bonding during a game of laser tag, this has been my favorite day so far. We spent most of today in an immigration center helping families get clean clothes, their first shower in in days, warm food and medical care. These families had traveled up from countries like Guatemala and El Salvador, hundreds of miles from McAllen TX and even further from their final destinations around the US.


Seeing the the joy on the faces of these families at an opportunity to feel safe, comfortable and clean. Interacting with them throughout this experience in order to help find what they needed was difficult due to the language barrier but ultimately the most rewarding part of the day. I am so grateful to have been able to help this amazing organization even if it was only for today. I’m also so looking forward to the service we’re about to embark on at the IDEA school in the following days and the ways that these issues will continue to be a part of the service we do.

Day Two, I Guess?

It’s most definitely 9:30am right now. Most certainly. But since we are in Texas, I guess that doesn’t count – it’s an hour behind over here. After getting off of our flights (plural) to McAllen, we’ve explored a few things so far; and to me, it feels like nothing has really changed – except the water and the weather! And who knew there would be Mexican Coke (as in the soda, guys!)?

Anyway, we are beginning our first official day in Texas as a team, but working in a school means we have to wait until the school opens for the week. Can’t wait to begin!