When I first signed up to join the Backpack journalism group, I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was getting myself into. I only knew a little bit about the project beforehand, which was enough to get me to want to join, but I didn’t fully understand its purpose at the time. Before going on the trip, I just thought that this project would be about getting to hone in on your filmography and photography skills, to help you become a better interviewer or a better photographer. I knew that we would be going to a border town and doing volunteer work, but I guess I just didn’t understand the significance of what we would be doing before we actually did it.
Now that we’ve returned from the trip and put together our rough cut of the documentary, I realize that this entire experience was so much more than just creating a film and working on those film-making skills. It was an unforgettable experience where we were able to have a first hand experience to see how immigration policy and the border affects the lives of those the policies are made against. We were able to talk to those who were affected and listen to their stories, whether they be triumphant, hopeful, longing, or heartbreaking. And more importantly, we were able to help in a sense, by being “servants,” as Sister Alicia would say, to those in the Comedor, by not only serving the migrants their food, but having actual conversations with them and listening to what they had to say.
While I do feel like I did in fact learn a lot of things about both photography and filmography, I don’t think that was the most important part of the trip. The most important part was making those connections with the people down by the border, and being able to see them as other human beings, each with their own individual stories and hardships. It was being able to see the border policies in action and how much of a negative impact they have on the southern communities. It was learning from those we interviewed and hearing their stories as well, about what they do to help, and what we can do to help.
So while I may not have come back from this trip as the next Kubrick or Coppola, I for sure came back as a person with a broadened perspective on the political issue of the wall, and a more open mind on the way I look at different issues in life in general.