Pulling the last few weeks together I’ve learned quite a few things. I can officially say I know how to operate my camera fairly efficiently. I’ve learned to cook a few more meals and laugh a little harder. The trip was nothing short of complicated but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The people I traveled with became my good friends. Nights of mafia and golf/garbage made sure that I would never be able to forget them. And honestly that was probably my biggest fear going in, not being able to make friends. I’m both shy and introverted. I have a few close friends and I rarely stray out of that group but all of the amazing people on this trip made it easy to reach out. Sure they made jokes about one another but the jokes were never said in a cruel fashion and I think that made it safe to open up.
My highlights were the evenings, at least the ones where we were awake enough to hang out. I’ve never seen so many dance parties while doing dishes or people willing to create a feast big enough to feed 16. I can now say from experience that from the outside it’s interesting to watch a group grow closer but from the inside it’s amazing.
I only had one real lowlight: Operation Streamline. That’s not to say that the information we were constantly receiving wasn’t hard to process or that it wasn’t devastating to see people at their lowest but neither of those things calcified in my mind as much as Operation Streamline did. The callous court room and general disregard for the migrants’ humanity burrowed under my skin. How could I look at our justice system, which was supposed to be just and humane, and not feel like it was missing the mark in a brutal way? I’ve known for a long time in the form of statistics that the justice system was failing but seeing it played out before my eyes took that knowledge to a new level.
The reality of Operation Streamline led me to think about what I can do. And to be honest I still don’t have an answer beyond advocate and agitate. I know that if I remain silent I am choosing the side of the oppressor, therefore each time the opportunity comes up to discuss these issues I must not remain silent. Beyond that I know there will be opportunities to continue cultivating change, I am just not aware of them at this point.
I know that I have been changed by this trip and I look forward to seeing how those changes take root. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this trip and I am glad to call everyone in this class my friend. I am also thankful to you, the readers, for keeping up with this blog and supporting us on our journey.