(written June 14 in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico)
I can’t believe it’s only been one week. One week since I flew into a brand new city to spend my first summer of college with brand new people. As I look back on this week of brand new experiences, it’s hard to explain what I’ve seen and felt. From the faces to the wall, there have been so many thoughts and feelings.
The Borderlinks delegation has provided our DukeEngage group with a great introduction for the rest of our summer. We have heard many stories about immigrating. The stories, fortunately for us, have come from migrants themselves. To sit and listen to such personal stories and not know what to do or say is a difficult situation to be put (or put yourself) in. After all, as we are discovering, there is no one solution to the massive problem that both the United States and Mexico currently face. The not knowing what to do or say, however, is becoming a norm that we must deal with in order to begin communicating across borders.
Which brings me to the wall. What is “the wall” anyway? I surely had no idea what this phenomenon for closing our borders looked like. But here in Nogales, Sonora, it’s just that—a tin wall of varying heights along the border separating people that once were neighbors. It prevents any kind of crossing, whether people or animals, and has recently become a place of expression. Alberto Morackis, a local artist, uses the Mexican side of the wall as a gallery depicting the migrant journey. In other places, “the wall” takes a different form. For instance, elsewhere in Southern Arizona, “the wall” is the desert. Due the physical wall, thousands of migrants have died attempting to find work and provide for their families by crossing through this less direct wall.
Another form “the wall” takes is in us. It’s easy to put up a wall when thinking about the deaths—to dehumanize immigrants and make them the villains. But behind this wall, we are human. And so are “they.” And, as we have learned and hoped this week, maybe someday that will be enough.