Seniors experience life at the border

Seniors experience life at the border

Allison Yeomans, Staff Writer



Eight NDP seniors embarked on a trip to Nogales, Mexico, on Friday, Nov. 13, to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the border.

Sydney Bettis, who went on the immersion trip, said it allowed them to “trace the path that the immigrants took after they are placed outside of the U.S.”

The chaperones were Ms. Shannon Guscetti, social studies teacher, and Ms. Maribelle Salazar, Spanish instructor. The other seniors were Connor McLane, Aubrey Steinberg, Cara Thompson, Maddie Pagnillo, Alicia Rodriguez, Allison Yeomans and Alexandra Szafranski.

Leslie Gjerstad, director of Christian service learning, first found out about the Kino Border Initiative for students through Brophy College Prep. They also do immersion trips for the students, and Gjerstad wanted to bring that same opportunity to NDP students.

While there are currently no set dates for future trips, Gjerstad said that they are definitely going to continue at NDP.

For this first trip, students were selected by both the World Language and Social Studies departments. Students do not necessarily need to know Spanish, but according to Gjerstad, it is helpful for communicating with the immigrants.

The faculty went on a similar trip earlier this year, and they believed it important for students to experience it as well. As Ms. Guscetti stated, “It was important because the students are now able to put faces to the stories of immigrants and the deportation process.”

According to Aubrey Steinberg, “We served food to the recent deportees, listened to their amazing stories, and walked the streets of Nogales.” She said that it was an experience in which everyone was able to step outside of their comfort zones and gain a new perspective.

The Kino Border Initiative seeks to create more humane and just conditions by helping immigrants and advocating for policy changes.

Bettis described the trip as one of the best experiences she’s had in a long time, as she was able to see all the issues and people firsthand.

Although NDP students are educated in world language classes about the issues facing those at the border, many students did not realize the extent of the issue until seeing it firsthand. Bettis said she was “not entirely sure what my point of view was prior to the trip.” However, she said she now “understands the sacrifices that the immigrants make in order to try to give their families better opportunities.”

Steinberg said she was changed by the experience, now seeing the “human side” of the argument and having learned how “truly lucky I am to be living the life that I have.”

Regarding the “human side,” Bettis said, “Although it is illegal (to cross the border), they are only crossing out of sheer necessity and their desperate need for a better life… It makes the ‘crime’ seem much less like a crime.”