Tag Archives: CU Backpack

Nuggets of Knowledge

On our first day back in the classroom we watched and transcribed the interviews from the various people we met along our journey. It struck me that we had met and interacted with a variety of very knowledgeable people who were clearly passionate about migration. We were told to search for little “nuggets” of the interviews that really packed a punch. It became clear pretty quickly that we didn’t need to do much digging because we had hit the jackpot. We were in a goldmine of succinct, well-spoken ideas that really struck a chord with the interviewee. Here are just a few of my favorite “nuggets” of knowledge from the trip.

“The only law is love your neighbor. You tell me how putting up a wall is loving your neighbor. You tell me how deporting women and children back to a place where we know they will be killed is loving your neighbor. It may be loving yourself because you want to hold onto your thing. But we are making decision based on material things not on human beings and that is no way, shape or form something that we can tolerate as American citizens.” – Rev. Peter Neeley, S.J., Assistant Director of Education at KBI

Group picture of Backpack journalism crew and Daniela Vargas
The Backpack Journalidm group with Daniela Vargas outside our home away from home.

“When you stop asking questions, that’s when something’s wrong because you’ve become complacent with the situation. But when you continue to ask the question: ‘Why is this happening?’ I think that continues to change perspectives.” – Daniela Vargas, KBI volunteer

“Because you are made in the image and likeness of God, you have inherent dignity. As a human being, you have dignity, you have certain rights. These aren’t rights that a government can give or take away. These are your rights because you are you, just because you were born, just because God created you.” –Joanna Williams, Director of Education at KBI

“Migrants as the human person have something to teach us. And yet, they are marginalized. They are pushed aside, they are not seen, they are not heard, they are not valued, the are pushed outside.”Rev. Sean Carroll, Executive Director at KBI

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Maria talking with Isabel Garcia.

“It’s what we really do to the least of us that defines us.” – Isabel Garcia, Immigration lawyer

“It’s a lot of suffering. One suffers a lot. there are people who say ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter. He’s illegal,’ or this or that. But there’s people like me who do it for their families, for their brothers, for their kids. We are all taking this journey, and this is a journey where a lot of people fail and are left behind.” – Jose “Pepe” Guillen, deported migrant

“Many of these people who have decided to take on this migrant journey are not doing it because they want to, they’re doing it because they have to. Part of the need also is the dream, and the dream is that someday they will be able to provide for their families what they’re currently not able to provide and give to them.” Daniela Vargas, KBI volunteer, daughter of migrant

Natalia performing at the Commodor for migrants who were recently deported. She invited them to sing along with her and their spirits were immediately lifted.
Natalia performing at the Commodor for migrants who were recently deported.

“Make a friend on the border. I think you’ll learn so much more about the border by knowing a person in depth than you will a concept and having to read a lot about it.” – Natalia Serna, Singer/songwriter

“What gives me hope? That’s a hard question to answer. I have faith that the goodness of God is stronger than any greed or any desire for money in this world. We have to do the little bit we can every day with faith and hope. And more than anything, what gives me hope is the faith of the migrants. A faith that doesn’t fade even against everything they have been through.” – Sister Maria Engracia Robles Robles, M.E., Education/Advocacy at KBI

 

Lil John showing us the migrant trail.
John showing us the migrant trail.

“The wall that’s a few miles from here would not be there if there weren’t walls between our ears. We have walls. We’ve built walls. We don’t even know they are there, cultural walls. And until those walls are taken down, the other ones won’t fall. They will someday, those walls are coming down. But the ones that put them there in the first place have to come down first.” – John Heidt, Activist

Bueno Suerte

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Pepe at the comedor. “Tu es una buena Amiga,” you are a good friend, Pepe said to me as I gave him a final hug.
As soon as I stepped off the steps of the comedor onto the sidewalk outside, I lost it. I quickly walked down the sidewalk past my group to hide my sobs.
Pepe is planning on returning to the border on Saturday, the same day we returned to Omaha.
I think there is an inherent part of us that has preferred to accept fantasy over reality since the time of the very first story, however many thousands of years ago. Those stories and fantasies have turned into popular novels and major blockbuster films, often telling incredible stories of doing the impossible. We eat these franchises up; sometimes, they’re even based on true stories.

But, there’s a reason these incredible stories are so incredible. Literally, these stories are often not credible, as in they’re barely believable. They question reality.
Movies and books take us to a place we’re not used to end give us a hero and a happy ending. That’s what we’ve come to expect from stories.
So, when Pepe told us he was crossing again on Saturday, my first instinct might before have been to imagine him triumphantly struggling through the long journey north, only to come out victorious on the other side. I imagined him meeting his son for the first time. Maybe we could get him to Nebraska, or maybe we’d visit him in California, and we’d all have a happy ending.
But the rhetoric I’ve been listening to all week does not tell that kind of story.
So, when Pepe told us he was crossing again on Saturday, I thought of the migrant trail we walked, littered with rusty cans and empty gallons of water, where hundreds of migrants die each year. I thought of Pepe’s injured leg inflicted by the kick of a border patrol agent after Pepe surrendered himself last time. I think of the parade of 75 migrants chained hand and foot in front of a judge where they are given no chance to tell their story. I think of the floods of new migrant faces I’ve seen enter the comedor over the past two weeks, their faces swollen with bee stings and barbed wire injuries, their bodies weak from dehydration, and their limbs bruised from banging around in the back of a caged truck like animals. I think of the cartel, watchful, dangerous, and heavily armed from their perch in the mountains.
This is the reality of this story and the story of hundreds of thousands of others. This is the reality that finally hit me when I put my friend Pepe’s face to the horrors I’d heard this week. That’s the truth and it’s something I’ve never had to face, but now it was literally looking me in the eyes.
Of course, the movie-loving side of me still imagines pepe’s triumphant crossing. That part of me lets me sleep imagining him holding his baby for the first time and tears of joy streaming down his face. It allows me to imagine a system that doesn’t separate father from son, a system that looks into individual cases of deportation and asks the migrants, “why did you come here?” instead of “do you plead guilty?”. It’s a system people are fighting for and that gives me hope for a happy ending, but for now things are broken and people like Pepe don’t really have a chance and people like me are able to offer little but a choked up “Bueno suerte,” good luck.
The desert.
The desert.

Obviously the Outsider

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Photo of cacti.

Being uncomfortable is the worst. That desire to crawl out of your skin and go hide somewhere no one can see you.

As I reflect on the trip, a lot of good memories and feelings come to mind. But when I really take the trip apart, and think about everything situation we were in , I’m reminded of the number of times I felt out of place.

In a sense, crossing the border each day was like entering into Narnia. Walking through the wall was like walking into the wardrobe. We very seamlessly went from one world into another.

The signs changed from English to Spanish, instead of McDonalds we saw fast food chains like Pollo Feliz, little pastel houses sprinkled the hills, men wondered the streets selling gum and cold treats.

Bienvenido a Mexico.

The first time I felt uncomfortable was at the comedor. As migrants walked in, the Kino volunteers welcomed them each with a handshake and hello, and then sat them at a table. As the small room quickly filled up, volunteers scurried to put food on the table and make sure everyone had a place to sit.

Saying I felt uncomfortable at the comedor feels silly, because the comedor really was a place that welcomed everyone. But I felt awkward in the sense that I didn’t need to be there, I was helpless, I was in the way.

I realized very quickly how poor my Spanish was. All I wanted to do was have a small conversation with the some of the migrants, make a small connection, get to know them and their story. After all, that’s what we were here to do. It was difficult watching them laugh or talk with each other, and to not be able to understand what it was they were laughing at.

I again felt this sense of being out of place in walking through the streets of Nogales, Mexico. We might as well have tattooed “American” on our foreheads and worn Hawaiian shirts because of how much we stuck out like cookie-cutter tourists. With our cameras, tripods and adventure pants, caravanning together up and down the streets, it was very clear that we weren’t locals. Heads turned, storeowners welcomed us into their shops and one man sitting on a bench yelled out “Americans! What are you doing here? Are you lost?”

Lastly, sitting in the courtroom to witness Operation Streamline in action felt very abnormal. I mentioned in a previous  post how it was difficult to have the shackled migrants look you in the eye. You could sense they were confused as to why we were there, watching them as they were prosecuted. I assume they were humiliated that we were watching.

I guess that a lot of the discomfort in these situations stemmed from very unmistakenly being the outsider. It made me think a little bit about how the migrant must feel when they first come to America. Unwelcomed, unfamiliar, obviously the outsider.

I think an even greater part of the discomfort came from feeling like I was there to view these people and their lifestyle for my entertainment. So badly I wanted to express that I wanted to help them. That we weren’t the bad guy. That we understood where they were coming from, or if we didn’t fully, we wanted to.

Operation Streamline: inefficient and ineffective

Two weeks ago, there was a lot about migration across the U.S.-Mexico border that I was unaware of. After spending two weeks on the border, I understand more, but I realize there is still so much more to learn.

Operation Streamline is one such concept I was ignorant of. Operation Streamline began in 2005 under the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. It requires almost all undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to be prosecuted through the federal justice system.

Last week, we had the opportunity to witness just this. Inside the federal courthouse in Tucson, we sat in the back of the large courtroom, notebooks in hand.

Roughly 70 migrants with handcuffs shackling their wrists, and a chain snaking around their torso, continuing down to their feet. Headphones cupped their ears, as a means for them to hear the Spanish translation of what the judge said. They looked scared, confused. As I watched them, I felt awkward. Knowing if I were a defendant, about to stand up in front of a crowded courtroom to plead guilty, I would be so humiliated and angered to have strangers watching me.

Five at a time, the migrants walked forward to be prosecuted. To each migrant the judge rattled off questions: Do you understand the rights you’re giving up? Yes. How do you plead? Guilty. Do you understand the consequences of pleading guilty? Yes. Are you a U.S. citizen? No. Are you pleading voluntarily and of your own free will? Yes.

In the U.S., each first-time offender is prosecuted for misdemeanor illegal entry and a six-month maximum sentence. Those who have tried crossing previously, are prosecuted with felony reentry and given a two-year maximum sentence, which can be more if the migrant has a criminal record.

I was unaware that this happened at all, and shocked to discover it happens every day of the week. Here were my main takeaways after witnessing Operation Streamline and doing some research.

Operation Streamline:

  • Deters the attention of lawmakers away from fighting violence on the border. Law enforcement must focus on the prosecution of migrants who have entered illegally for the first time. Meanwhile, drug smuggling and human trafficking is occurring at the border.
  • Fails at reducing undocumented immigration. Petty immigration prosecutions are increasing, while the number of migrants attempting to cross the border is declining.
  • Is unconstitutional. Migrants are not given due process. Many defendants don’t receive probable cause determinations within 48 hours of their warrantless arrests, as the Fourth Amendment requires (see attacked article below).

After we walked out of the courtroom, a Magistrate Judge who was off duty followed us out and asked if we wanted to talk about what we had just witnessed. After answering a lot of our questions, it was obvious that he too was frustrated with the current system.

“Everyone wants to be tough on crime. No one talks about being just in crime,” he said.

He encouraged each of us to reach out to our state congressmen, voicing our concern with the process. I hope to do just that, as well as educate others that this injustice is occurring. For a more thorough explanation of Operation Streamline, I strongly encourage you to checkout Berkeley Law School’s review of the system.

Standing in Solidarity

I took this photo at the beginning of our journey along the migrant trail.
I took this photo at the beginning of our journey along the migrant trail. Our journey was only two miles long, 1/1000 of Josseline’s trip from El Salvador.

On Saturday, our group ventured out early in the morning to set out on a desert hike to experience what the migrant goes through. The only thing I was sure of was that it was earlier than I was used to and the road to get there was barely even a road.
Our tour guide’s name was John, a crunchy granola looking fellow with long, white hair. His quirky character and love for all humanity is probably what stuck out to me the most. He took us across grasslands, up and down hills, through ravines, along both beaten and unbeaten paths. I fell within the first 15 minutes and tried to catch myself.  My hands landed on some rugged rocks and got pretty scratched up.

As we were walking, I tried to listen to what John was telling us. We were crossing over from a cattle trail to a migrant trail when he told us that we were part of the story now, that this wasn’t just a migrant story. That struck a chord with me. Up until then, I always saw it as their story, their struggles, their lives. But it’s the story of the human race, including all of our struggles and our dreams.


A photograph of my grandmother at age 19. This was taken outside of her university where she learned how to be a teacher.
A photograph of my grandmother at age 19. This was taken outside of her university where she learned how to be a teacher.

Above is a photo of Isabel Navasca Corpuz, also known as my Lola (Grandma in Tagalog). She was born on July 7, 1927 in Manilla, Philippines.

During WWII, she lived in a house with five other families on a farm in a rural area. She had just become a teenager but she was prohibited from going anywhere public by herself. Whenever she did go out, she had to disguise herself in old woman clothes so that the Japanese would not capture her and rape her.

When the war was over, my Lola finished her college education. She met and fell in love with Raymundo Corpuz and together they bore two sons. However, they saw that the Philippines was not the best place for them to raise their sons. Like many immigrants, they faced oppression in the country that they happened to be born in. With prayers tucked into their pockets, they left whatever material things they had behind in hope for a brighter future. They found refuge in this country that I call my own, America, the land of the free.

Almost a half of a century later, Lola has five grandchildren. Both of her sons have pursued higher education and have been able to provide for their own families.


This is a picture that was on Josseline's memorial card.
This is a picture that was on Josseline’s memorial card.

Above is a picture of Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quiteros. She was born on September 15, 1993 in El Salvador. When she was young, her parents left of the United States in order to make more money to support their family. Both came into the country illegally and had been working in the shadows. Meanwhile, Josseline was in charge of taking care of her younger brother. Eventually, her mother, Sonia, had made enough money to hire a guide to take both of her children all the way from El Salvador to Los Angeles.

Josseline, 14,  and her brother, 10, went with other trusted adults to travel over 2,000 miles; jumping walls, hiking up and down the mountains, and trekking through the desert. They only brought with them the clothes on their backs. Josseline chose a pair of jeans and some sweatpants that had “Hollywood” bedazzled on the bottom. She planned to wear them when she arrived to the land of the famous.

They hid from Mexico’s national police as well as the United States Border Patrol. Just after they had crossed the US/Mexican border, Josseline started to get sick. The rest of the group were on a time crunch. They needed to be at a certain location where they would be picked up and time was running out. Josseline could barely walk. She encouraged the group to go on without her. Her brother cried and refused to leave his main caretaker. She encouraged him and told him to tell their mother where she was and to send help the second that he was able to.

Her first nights alone in the desert were spent in the freezing cold. She had on two jackets and two pairs of pants, but that still wasn’t enough to beat the 29 degree weather.

Three weeks later, members of No More Deaths were hiking the migrant trails to leave out jugs of water and canned goods for migrants. They stumbled upon the small body of a girl whose dreams were cut short. A memorial was held at the site where Josseline’s body was found. However, her family was not able to make it in fear of being arrested and deported back to Mexico.


I will be a part of my grandchildren’s history, like Lola was a part of mine. I grew up asking her stories of her hardships, of her hopes for her family, of her American Dream. When my grandchildren ask me questions, I want them to be as proud of my accomplishments as I am of Lola’s. I want them to learn from my courage and my determination for social justice. I want them to know how much I would sacrifice for our family and for our brothers and sisters around the world. I’m lucky that my Lola’s experience was not as difficult at Josseline’s and I have my life to show for it. I can only hope to do my 4 foot 6 inch grandmother justice.

Migration isn’t an us versus them issue, this is a we issue. When we see them as people with families and friends, with fears and dreams, then we will be able to stand in solidarity with them and fight for change.

 

Complicate

It seems like as each day passes, I’m left with more questions than answers.

On Sunday we traveled to Arivaca for mass. Through the windy roads, passing miles of mountainous desert,  we arrived at little Arivaca. A church. A bar. A cafe.

Inside of the small country church, the locals chatted, welcoming the new faces as we walked in, inviting us to join the empty choir. Our group of 20 consisted of almost a third of the people. With two baptisms and a First Holy Communion, this was a larger crowd than the church saw most Sundays.

Arivaca. A town surrounded by miles of land, about 20 miles from the border. Cattle roam freely, border patrol always watching. Some came here to retire, to get away. Others owned or ranched acres upon acres of land handed down over generations.

Following mass we were invited to join the parishioners in their weekly potluck. Through conversation, it didn’t take long for me to realize the people here felt differently about immigration than many of the others we’ve talked to. Phrases like “Build the wall” and “increase border patrol” rang in the conversations. One woman looked at me, tears in her eyes, and said “I’ve seen one too many bloody murders on my land.”

After the potluck we drove five minutes to the home of two of the parishioners and local ranchers, Sue and Jim. Their western style home sat on 50 thousand acres of land.

We were greeted by several pairs of camo-printed slippers lining the walkway to the front entrance of the home. We later were told that these were the carpet slippers drug packers wore to cover their tracks. These were just a small sample of what Jim and Sue had discovered on their land.

As some set up cameras for the interview, Jim showed the rest of us footage he gathered from the three cameras randomly set up around his property, moving them every couple of weeks. We watched as caravans of men dressed in camo carried  large square shaped backpacks past the hidden cameras. These were drug packers. Jim and Sue’s land was prime territory for drugs to pass over as for 25 miles there was no wall on the border of their land.

In Sue’s interview she shared a number of her views according to her experiences over the years. Sue explained the drug cartels as a multi-billion dollar market.

“The ones coming over aren’t looking for jobs, the have jobs carrying drugs with good compensation,” Sue said. “There’s always been contraband, but it hasn’t always been blood thirsty drug cartel.”

Sue’s solution:

  1. Put a wall up, get it highly secured and get a road parallel to the border. Communication needs to be increased. You can have all the border patrol in the world, but if it’s in the wrong locations, it’s not effective.
  2. Get a worker permit program and a legal worker program that is readable and doesn’t take five years to get through.A big amnesty program isn’t the answer.

Sue explained they’re land isn’t a safe worker entry. People need a safe port of entry. If workers were legal and had documents, they would have rights as a worker. Without these documents, they have no rights and therefore no way of acting against their mistreatment.

I knew immigration was a complex issue, but the more I learn, the more complicated it becomes.

 

 

 

 

When did we forget how to cry?

Painting by migrant in Nogales, Sonora
Painting by migrant in Nogales, Sonora

On our first morning here, we walked across the border and into Mexico. No one asked to see my passport, not a single question was asked. I saw the wall, snaking up and down the terrain, drones and cameras watching everyone and everything that approached it. I didn’t see the cartel members in the trees at the top of the hill, but I was told by a number of people that they were there, watching for migrants.

Prior to going on this trip, it seemed like everyone I told left me with the same warning: “Be careful, the border is dangerous.” I guess if I was afraid of anything, it was the drug lords and cartels I had heard about in the media. However, when we crossed the border, I didn’t feel unsafe at all.

Nogales is unique because it’s one of the only cities split by the wall. About 25,000 people live on the America side, while 250,000 live on the Mexico side. In 2011, the wall was built to replace a wire fence. Prior to this, Americans and tourists flowed freely between the border, heading into Mexico for a cheap authentic dinner or a night on the town. However, following 911, as talks of threats to national security skyrocketed, people began to avoid the border at all costs because they were afraid. In walking through the town, you see what’s left of what used to be a lively town for tourists, now clearly in a depression.

Throughout the trip, the idea of the wall continues to come up, literally and figuratively. It’s pretty hard to miss the structure that stands 18-30 feet depending on the location. I’ve learned it takes two minutes to climb over it. About four million dollars per mile to build it. Drugs and money can still be passed between the it. In fact, other than stirring fear in people, the wall does very little. When we put walls up, we assume it’s up to keep something out. It really struck me when Fr. Peter Neeley, a Jesuit priest who has worked with immigration for over 20 years asked us, “How is putting up a wall loving your neighbor?”

Creighton students observe the wall up close.
Creighton students observe the wall up close.

A train track runs through the center of Nogales, perpendicular to the wall. Ironically, the first train we saw pass through was a Union Pacific, carrying Ford cars. Everyday 2,500 Fords manufactured in Nogales are brought into the U.S. We watched as the wall opened so the train could pass through, closing immediately after the last car. This is just one example of the many goods that pass from Mexico into America. In addition to this, we saw an abundance of factories in the city, all producing American goods.

Again, I was struck by Fr. Neeley’s words. “America depends on so many material goods from Mexico, but when it comes to the people, it wants nothing to do with them.” America relies on the world for so many of its possessions. We don’t live in a little cocoon.

Fr. Neeley talked about how 20 years ago he would tell Mexicans he worked with how wonderful he thought America was. He would ask them why they hadn’t wanted to try and find jobs in the United States, where they would make a better wage, to which they would respond, “Why would we go to the U.S. Father? We have everything we need here and we’re happy.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves 12 times in his or her lifetime, over 80 percent of these people move within the same state. The reasons include leaving for college and job opportunities. The point is, most people don’t move unless they have to, especially to places far from their families with unfamiliar languages and cultures.

Over the past four days every migrant we’ve talked to was running from something or to someone. From trying to avoid danger, to hoping to meet his or her child for the first time, each migrant we’ve met didn’t leave their home just because they wanted to; they had to.

Yet, we continue to dehumanize them, we continue to criminalize them and we continue to build walls instead of looking at the human on the other side.

Pope Francis asks us: “Where is your compassion? Have you forgotten how to cry?”

Processing a new perspective

The entrance into Mexico in Nogales, with the Kino Border Initiative Comedor located to the bottom left underneath the sign
The entrance into Mexico in Nogales, with the Kino Border Initiative Comedor located to the bottom left underneath the sign

It’s one thing to have knowledge about large-scale issues, but it’s another to see the face of those affected by the issue up close.

I can recall vaguely how my understanding of immigration has evolved over the years. When I was younger, I remember hearing the term “illegal immigrant” and thinking of all of the negative connotations that went with it. Immigrants broke the law, and then they took American’s jobs.

As I grew a little bit older, I was better able to empathize for illegal migrants, as I gained a better understanding of why they wanted to flee to America. They wished for a better life, they ran from poverty, they had family in the United States, etc. However, even with these insights, I lacked the capacity to get a solid grip.

It has never really occurred to me that migrants felt guilty for what they had done. I didn’t know they were stigmatized by other Mexicans after being deported and returned to Mexico. I had no idea the level of brutality migrants faced and the dehumanizing measures they suffered after being captured. Worst of all, I didn’t stop to consider that deported migrants accepted this treatment because they thought they deserved it.

In the last three days I’ve seen the passageways, resembling cattle chutes with the one-way turn staffs, where deported migrants are pushed through when they’re returned. I’ve heard stories of families being separated. I’ve stood in the spot where one Mexican was shot merely for throwing rocks over the wall. I’ve seen the faces of newly deported migrants, sad, defeated.

With each interview we complete, we learn so much about the overall challenges with immigration, along with what it looks like on a personal level. I think I need some time to let it all process.

But for now, we’re learning, we’re laughing, we’re crying and we’re sleeping very little.

A Community Unfolds

Several Backpack group members sitting on the wall behind our guest house in Nogales, Arizona
Several Backpack group members sitting on the wall behind our guest house in Nogales, Arizona.

*I wrote this yesterday but I am posting it today due to lack of Internet access*

May, 22. Nogales, Arizona. 10:24 p.m. 70 degrees.

When you can’t think of what to write, start by looking at what’s right in front of you.

I, along with five other students, sit around a table for 10, staring aimlessly at mini iPads and attempting to think of what to write. Two, 12-hour days in a van has left us delirious, giggly and definitely not focused enough to write a blog.

But as I look at all of us, sitting around this table, I realize how analogous this is of the trip, or pilgrimage, so far.

Through conversing and sharing around this table, we continue to discover community at a gathering place. I’ve felt this community throughout the trip a number of times.

I experienced it first in the reflection before we left, and then in the car on the way down. To be honest, I thought the drive down here was so much fun. It was full of good conversation, beautiful scenery, long naps, good reads, lots of dancing and well-spaced bathroom stops. It was a time of bonding and getting to know one another.

When we arrived in Nogales, Ivan, a Jesuit priest, greeted us and gave us a tour of the home we’d be living in the next two weeks.

The basementless house splits into two wings, each wing offering large empty bedrooms filled with mismatched air mattresses, all dressed in a blanket and pillow. In the center of the house you’ll find the common area, the big table I’m sitting at, along with the kitchen.

I’m not really sure what feng shui is, but I feel like this house has good feng shui. It is here, in this house and at this table, where the theme of community has continued to unfold. The space is designed is such a way that it promotes community, while allowing for seclusion.

Initially, the thought of being in the same small premise with 15 others for two weeks was worrisome to me, someone who needs time and space alone. However, while I know there are times in the next two weeks when I might get uncomfortable or annoyed, these will be growing opportunities for me.

Uncomfortable situations and moments are inevitable in a person’s life. The learning comes in when you have to evaluate why you’re uncomfortable, and what you can do to overcome it.

So far, the group’s dynamic has been one of rooting for one another, working together and learning about eachother’s backgrounds. The reflections, road trip, gathering table and living space have only helped foster this naturally growing community.

 

 

Information Overload

At the end of day three I am both exhausted and eager.  The amount of information thrown at us has been pretty crazy but for some reason I keep wanting more.  Learning information about all the different things we need to know has been bearable because I know that the knowledge and skills will greatly benefit in the making of our documentary.  Plus we leave in three days!

I have learned more about cameras and all of their different functions as well as some history of Christianity and the Catholic Church.  I have also learned about how to do an interview.  To be honest this was my biggest fear coming into this backpack journalism trip.  I am not a journalism student unlike almost everyone else and I have not written that much or conducted many professional interviews.  Hearing about the amount of blogs we will be writing and the interview questions we have to come up with seems like such a daunting task to me.  I know that throughout this journey I will learn the necessary skills in order to improve my blogging and interviewing skills.

For our journalism portion of class, Carol had us read three outstanding articles.  The first article was about a deadly tornado that struck a town on Psalm Sunday.  The second was about a lady giving $150,000 to a college in order to allow more southern Mississippi African American kids go to college.  And lastly, my favorite article was about a fifth grader who has acute myelocytic leukemia.

I think that the reason this article touched me so much was because of the way the author, Erin Grace, brings emotion into her piece and her style of writing.  She writes about one sentence per line almost as if she was writing like a fifth grader.  Erin humanizes the main character, Lauren “Lolo”, in many ways.  The most compelling line of her whole article was when several of Lolo’s friends came to Children’s Hospital on a snow day and stood in the atrium balcony and waved to her.  The way Erin describes the scene and how Lolo looks with her IV on her pole and hospital gown makes you feel like you are really there.  Lolo’s mother sees her daughter’s friends waving but with hesitation and perhaps fear.  Her mother simply looks at Lolo’s friends and says, “It’s still Lolo.”

Nico has been teaching us how to use the cameras and all of their functions.  He is a great teacher and one who really knows his stuff.  He taught us some of the basics on the second day and then had us partner up and go shoot at Creighton.  Ryan Lloyd was my partner and boy did we have fun!  We decided to shoot our adventure to the top of the old gym on Creighton’s campus.  We used all of the eight types of shots Nico taught us and had an absolute blast doing it.  We worked very well together because we both anticipated shots and also are creative.

Learning how to use the camera
Learning how to use the camera

We have come so far in only three days and have soaked in a lot of information.  I know that not all of the information will stick, but what is adventure without making a few mistakes and not going down the clear-cut path?  I am beyond excited for Saturday when we pack the vans and hit the road on this CU Backpack pilgrimage.