Let’s Get Started

BorderLinks has a four-step cycle which it uses to help delegation participants, such as DukeEngage students, process their experience on the border.

Step 1: Ver (See). In Tucson, we were exposed to the Latino community through Derechos Humanos, Southside Presbyterian Church’s Day Labor Center, and other community venues. On the border, we encountered the Nogales Border Patrol station, the wall, and the migrants making their way from home to here. In Mexico, we lived and worked with children and parents in the border city of Nogales. All summer, we were exposed to the perspectives of Native Americans, farmers, environmental advocates, ranchers, medical professionals, human rights activists, professors, and many others.

Step 2: Pensar (Think). Through research in the spring semester, I started this stage even before I saw Arizona firsthand. Once on the trip with step 1 under way, I bounded through the pages of a journal, posted some blog entries, and joined our group in frequent reflections. Furthermore, I had deep conversations with other staff at Derechos Humanos as well as local residents of Tucson and Nogales.

Step 3: Actuar (Act). I completed meaningful service for Derechos Humanos, and I briefly participated in the efforts of a variety of other Tucson-area organizations.

Step 4: Celebrar [self-explanatory?]. Our group enjoyed final dinners out in both Mexico and Tucson, waved glow sticks at night atop Sentinel Peak, or “A” Mountain, and traded compliments and photos among group members on our last day Saturday.

That’s it. DukeEngage was over on Sunday. But I refuse to believe that my role in this cycle is over. As for Ver and Pensar, I have yet to witness and process the immigration struggles in Europe, where I’ll be studying this fall, and North Carolina, which has the fastest growing Latino population in the U.S.

Furthermore, my DukeEngage companions and I now have the tools to do much more action than simply our summer stint in the Southwest. We put our heads together to form a list of resources available for support, be they clubs, Durham organizations, professors, or other students, when we return to campus and begin advocacy there. We also brainstormed possible personal and group activities to spread information about the border and encourage action. Most of the group will be abroad in the fall, but our first major event in the spring has a great outline and strong promise for creating dialogue in our community.

Yet, I’m ready to take some steps now. Already I had great dialogue with a Tucson native on the plane home, and I’ve shared photos, materials, and stories of the trip with my parents, in anticipation of formal presentations in public venues later. I’m thinking about how to improve sustainable food practices in my home, echoing a frequent topic of our trip, and I’m finding ways to keep my Spanish sharp for future action. As for BorderLinks Step 4, I’m already celebrating successful service this summer, and the promise offered by an informed conscience.  Plus, I’m prepared to celebrate the contributions of immigrants past and present, whether in the form of tasty foods, important ideas, or a praiseworthy work ethic.

Readers, come join the celebration, and let’s talk about some action.

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~ by Jonathan Amgott on July 16, 2009.

2 Responses to “Let’s Get Started”

  1. I see this is just the beginning!

  2. Wow!! It sounds like it was an amazing and awesome experience!! I didn’t realize that there’s such a large hispanic population in N.C. Additionally, I’m anxious to see more photos and talk with you re: immigration and the U.S.’s prespective and policy. Jonathan, do you think the U.S.’s immigrant policy should be changed?? If so, how?? If not, why?

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