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Trip Overview:

The debate over immigration in the United States has many fronts: economic, political, effects on families. Location has a lot to do with what that debate looks like. The issues, motivations, and questions can be vastly different in Adams County in rural Pennsylvania, which has a sizable migrant population, and in the Southwestern United States, which shares almost 2000 miles of border with Mexico, the most frequently crossed international border in the world.

This trip will focus on immigration and the realities of life on the border. Intending to dismantle the skewed perspectives about immigration presented by the media, participants will meet with border patrol, immigrants living in El Paso, people living in colonias on both sides of the border, human rights workers, and other leaders in immigration reform.

More than 3 million people live in the El Paso-Juarez-Las Cruces area, also called Paso del Norte. The group will be spending time in El Paso, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Trip Hosts:

The Lutheran Border Awareness Project hosts groups interested in first-hand cultural immersions focused on education about border issues. They incorporate values that are important to them into their programming:

  • Simplicity: learning to live with less in solidarity with those whom they serve;
  • Social Justice: working alongside people who are in a system of poverty and inequality to advocate for change;
  • Community: intentionally living and connecting with fellow volunteers and those living in the border.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1: Fly from Baltimore to El Paso; Drive to Las Cruces, NM; Welcome and Orientation from hosts

Day 2: El Paso; Chamizal National Memorial; Learn to cook Gorditas; Dinner with members of Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey

Day 3: Presentation: homelessness and poverty; Service project at Jardin de los Ninos (after school program)

Day 4: Life at the fence; Presentation by Border Patrol; Conversations with friends at the fence (Life in a Mexican colonia); Dinner with doctor who serves most marginalized in colonias of Ciudad Juarez

Day 5: Visit La Casa, Inc; Role Play: In Her Shoes; Visit White Sands National Monument

Day 6: El Paso; Visit Border Network for Human Rights; Presentation by Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project

Day 7: Presentation: Understanding colonias; La Semilla Food Center; Closing reflection

Day 8: Las Cruces Farmer's Market; Travel home to Gettysburg

Project Leader:

My name is Christina Noto and I am a senior majoring in History and minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Peace and Justice Studies. For the past three years I have been a tutor for El Centro and have really loved learning from the students. I have been on two other immersion projects: Peace Building and Development in Rwanda and Women’s Rights and Islam in Morocco. I am excited to lead this trip as it gives us the opportunity to learn more about the experiences of immigrant families that are not often accurately portrayed in the media.