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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 Mary Beth Bielicki and I'm a senior at Gettysburg College majoring in Psychology with minors in Spanish, Business, and Neuroscience. I've been taking Spanish classes since kindergarten, tutored ESL (English as a Second Language) students in high school, and volunteered at Fiesta at Gettysburg College for the past two years. At Fiesta I celebrated the end of fall harvest with children of local migrant families while their parents received information about different resources and community partners in Adams County. I am excited for this Immersion Project and the opportunity to learn more about some of the issues that immigrant families face and to apply a new perspective to some of the experiences I've had, both throughout my life and here at Gettysburg!