Source: Abby Y. '20 for Westridge Spyglass
Over President’s Day weekend, 11 students took the train two hours south to Tijuana to explore the issue of immigration from a global perspective. The four-day trip was designed to give the students from Jennifer Marcus’s Global Studies class and Bonnie Martinez’s El Mundo Advanced Spanish class (which focuses on global issues) the opportunity to explore multiple perspectives on U.S. foreign policies and delve deeper into students’ language skills.
“As a global studies student, you learn about things in an abstract way – you learn the statistics and the facts about the events, but you don’t get to experience it,” said Sophia R. ’20. “Talking to people and learning their stories is something that you can’t get in a classroom...you understand that there are people behind these statistics and these news articles. It’s more than a political issue, it’s a human issue.”
The trip began with a meeting with a U.S. border patrol officer who gave her perspective on the current immigration situation. “It was interesting to start off hearing [from her]. I think we all have this kind of image in our heads when we hear about border patrol, but she’s a human and a mother, and hearing her perspective...humbled us for the rest of the trip and it made us think about the other side,” said Abby Y. ’20.
Once in Mexico, the group spoke, in Spanish, with many asylum seekers, including a man from the much-publicized caravan from Honduras who had arrived at the border suffering from dehydration after walking over 2,000 miles from Honduras. They spoke to women from Africa who, when asked how they came, responded that they had come by bus, boat, car, and by crawling through the jungle. They spoke to a U.S. military veteran who had been deported after living in America since he was three-years-old.
The group spent their remaining time in Tijuana volunteering at shelters where they fed more than 1,500 people and attending a bi-national church service on the border that preached unity and human empathy across borders.
“This is an experience that allows your daughter to gain language skills, to do service, to understand American foreign policy, and to gain independence – all in four days,” said Marcus. “This is a powerful experience because you can look at how shifts in U.S foreign policy can effect what is happening in Mexico in real time. Having this kind of exposure and seeing how these policies affect people and being there to talk to them is really powerful.”
To learn more about the trip, see Isabel A.’s article in Spyglass about her experience on the trip here.