In November, four students and chaperones Mr. Thane Hall and Mr. Kevin Krysiak ventured to Brownsville, Texas on a service immersion trip to serve the displaced immigrants at the U.S. – Mexico border. The trip truly allows our students the opportunity to witness and grasp the plight of immigrants seeking asylum. It can be difficult for young people to show empathy when they are far removed from a situation, they lack understanding. This trip provides an experience where they meet and put a face to the asylum seekers, making the situation more real and fosters compassion and solidarity.
We spent the day working at La Posada. La Posada provides temporary shelter for those who seek legal refuge in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Operated by the Sisters of Divine Providence, the shelter sits on a piece of farmland in San Benito. It has hosted more than 10,000 people and has served people from 86 countries since its inception in 1989.
We cleaned up the property and spent time with the immigrants being served there. We ate lunch with them and watched a presentation on La Poasada’s mission.
We went to Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen, TX. At this center, immigrants have already been processed and are on their way to their next destination. We helped sort and pass out clothes, and spent time with the immigrants that were in transition and soon to be on their way.
This day was spent at Guadalupe Middle School. This school is a fellow Christian Brothers school in Brownsville, and does not charge students tuition. It relies on generous grants and donations to sustain its operations throughout the year. Even with such generosity, the school used outdated supplies and needed refurbishing after sharing its facility with the local parish.
We cleaned the outside of the school. This is especially important for them because the students change classes outside and the school cannot afford the type of cleaning that we provided.
Many of Guadalupe’s students come from undocumented families still navigating the immigration process. During a cookout for the middle school kids, our students heard the voices of children who wanted to play at recess and read their new favorite book at home, not those of kids who spent days, if not months, in a detention facility. It was a moment that our students found true empathy, comparing of the stark contrast of their own lives at that age.
We visited the Basilica Of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle – National Shrine, where we attended Mass and took a tour of the shrine. We also went to the Palo Alto Battlefield Museum.
On our final day, we went to a shelter and helped with many projects, and also spent time with the people we were serving. Later, we visited the border wall.