About DukeEngage Tucson 2010

Immigration is perhaps the single largest domestic challenge facing both the United States and Mexico today. People die nearly every week attempting to cross the border. Hostilities against immigrants in the U.S. rise daily. Local, state, and international relations are increasingly strained.

For eight weeks this summer, seven students have been given the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico to study the many faces of immigration. Following two weeks of meetings with local activists, a Border Patrol agent, a federal public defender, lawyers, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, maquiladora owners, Grupos Beta employees, migrants, and local farmers, we will spend six weeks partnered with Southside Day Labor Camp, BorderLinks, or Humane Borders in order to further immerse ourselves in the issues of immigration.

This blog chronicles our experiences and our perspectives on what we learn while here in Arizona. We hope our stories are interesting and informative.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Did I Learn?

I have spent the last eight weeks in Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico. At the beginning of these eight weeks, I challenged myself with this goal:

“So, why am I here? I am here to learn. To learn in order to better understand. To learn in order to be able to make informed decisions regarding immigration. To learn in order to be better able to serve. But especially, to learn in order to be qualified to educate for change.”—blog post To Learn June 6, 2010

I did learn.

I learned during the first two weeks we spent on the border participating in an educational delegation, the first week of which we spent in Tucson, Arizona where we met with activists in the community, served breakfast at a local church, met with a Border Patrol agent and a public defender, and watched a Streamline trial. The second week of the delegation, we spent in Nogales, Mexico where we visited a maquiladora; held a camp for neighborhood children; visited Altar, Mexico, a common migrant stop before entering the US; and lived in homestays.

I learned during the next six weeks we spent in Tucson, Arizona working at our nonprofit placements. I worked at a Southside Day Labor Center in South Tucson. The Center is a place where people can come and negotiate employment. Every morning at 6:30, laborers participate in a raffle which determines the order in which they will get work. First raffle ticket, first job. They then spend the rest of the morning waiting for bosses to come by and pick them up.

During our six weeks at the Center, the two other volunteers and I did what we could to best fill these waiting hours. We first talked to the laborers and tried to determine how we could best serve them. We did one-on-one English tutoring, watched the World Cup, held computer classes, talked with the laborers, gave a health presentation, helped make Center IDs, helped with leadership and community development activities, made an orientation video for new laborers, put together an orientation packet for new volunteers, and gave a presentation to the congregation of the church that houses the Day Labor Center in the hopes of recruiting volunteers to fill our shoes once we left Tucson.

And I learned during out last two days of delegation at the end of our stay in Arizona. We spent these two days planning how we would take what we had learned in Arizona home, attending the SB1070 hearings in Phoenix, and visiting the Florence Project, a nonprofit organization that provides legal services to men, women, and children being held in detention for “immigration removal proceedings.”

I learned more in these past eight weeks than I ever thought I would. But I also know that there is still more to learn, that a lifetime on the border wouldn’t be enough. In my blog posts, I have recorded what I could of these last eight weeks. When I return to Duke, I hope to take what I have learned and to work with my peers to pass this knowledge on to others. I also know that it remains my responsibility to keep on learning.

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