Over winter break, nine Haverford College juniors and seniors, got a fresh perspective on immigration through a weeklong Borderlands Field Study to Arizona and Mexico. Now in its third year, the collaboration between Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) and the Earlham College Border Studies Program exposes students to the harsh realities of the borderlands from diverse perspectives.
One morning, the group accompanied volunteers with the nonprofit No More Deaths for a four-mile walk in the desert on a trail used by migrants. The terrain is brush-covered and rocky in some places, and lush in other areas with shade trees. The path is “actually beautiful,” says Katie Sharar, associate director of the Earlham Border Studies Program, which is based in Tucson. But she also notes that it can be foreboding, especially if a migrant loses his way or makes the journey in the dark. No More Deaths places water and food along the trail for migrants to find and offers medical care.
Along the way, students came across a makeshift shrine with pictures of saints and migrants’ family members. It was a poignant plea for protection for the rest of the journey, according to Sharar. “That really brought it all to life,” says Haverford junior Tamar Hoffman, a political science major from Tel Aviv.
The itinerary also included stops at the Border Patrol station in Nogales, Ariz., and the Florence Detention Center, as well as a visit three miles south of the border to hardscrabble Nogales, Sonora.
“It was an emotionally challenging and emotionally impactful week,” says Sharrar.
—Lini S. Kadaba
Photos by David Sanders
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