We got the opportunity to visit the Mexican/U.S. border. It was a difficult and eye opening experience. We got to talk to two border patrol agents who talked about their jobs and experiences on the border. In 2013, 4,000 kids ages 18-months to 16 years old crossed the border after President Obama made a statement about caring for immigrant children. Smugglers used this information to lie to families in Central America and Mexico to get parents to send their unaccompanied children to the border. The Nogales border had to service 1,200 kids in one day. A two-year old walked around with one of the agents, clinging to her leg the whole day. This was troubling for the agents to see as they worked to ensure these children had the proper care.
Some people on the other side of the fence throw rocks at the agents. This happened more when it was a wall, not a see-through fence as it is now. While we were talking to the border patrol agents, a message came over the radio that 3 individuals were hoping the fence just behind where we were. They told us that 50-60 people come into Nogales, Arizona illegally every day.
We went through a border checkpoint as we were leaving Windsong. They asked if everyone in the car was a U.S. citizen. Emma and Stephanie, our guides, stated they were both Canadian and then the Border patrol Agent said, “Oh, haha, that’s close enough.”We all commented that Mexico is much closer than Canada! It’s hard to believe that we are separated by this division.
What I took away from this experience was that the border is just a line separating two cultures and that we can do something about it. We have the power, but we aren’t using it. On Mexico’s side of the border, they freely let U.S. citizens in, but when entering the U.S., they are strict about who enters. The waitlist for obtaining citizenship to the U.S. is 25 years. That is why many people come here illegally. It was hard to learn about the world in which we are living. The promise I made to myself was to raise awareness of how the border is separating two cultures. – Willow Watkins, 8th grade
On our last night, a traditional Mexica dance group called La Danza, consisting of five adolescents and two adults came to perform and educate us at the Windsong. The group showed us some of the traditional, cultural dances. Each of the dancers in La Danza wore a costume that represented their level of experience. They encouraged us to come up and dance with them and soon our whole class and our facilitators, Steph and Emma, were dancing! We learned two dances that night. The costumes included colorful headdresses with feathers, anklets with wooden jingle bells.
After all of the dancing, we shared a meal together where we were able to talk with some of the kids about their everyday lives. We learned that some of them had to cross the Mexico, U.S. border everyday to get to school. Some of their parents couldn’t cross the border with them. While we were cleaning the dishes we exchanged phone numbers and other social media information so we could keep in touch with them. It was an amazing night because we were able to see a different culture and bond with them on a personal level. – Zoe Melonas, 7th grade