Tag Archives: #justice

A Letter to the Blog Readers

One of Paul’s letters stands out from the rest. Usually, his writings focus on reaching out to communities and churches which he has already been in contact with, and is reinforcing a teaching or giving advice. Romans wasn’t; instead, it was written before Paul arrived in Rome. It was meant to be a letter of introduction — the cover letter for his ministry to the Romans. Paul wanted to introduce himself and explain his ministry to the new church before his arrival.

There's where I'm going!
Uganda’s location in Africa

This week, I started “boot camp” for Backpack Journalism, a program that has us traveling to Uganda to create a documentary about the ongoing refugee crisis that is happening at the edges. I’ve started learning bits and pieces about how to use a camera, and why I’m doing that completely wrong. This is my letter to the Romans.

Well, obviously this is a little less high minded, but this is my introduction and explanation to the ten of you that will probably read this blog for why I’m traveling  to Uganda next week.

First of all, a little bit about me. I grew up in a town in the middle of nowhere in northwest

It's not a phase, Mom
The edgy picture I took in high school and still use as my profile pictures on Facebook and the place to “find God’s match for you.”

Iowa  called Rock Rapids that has a lot of people that would be angry I called it a town in the middle of nowhere. I’m going to be a senior next fall at Creighton, and I’m studying theology and political science. Yay writing papers. I’m planning on pursuing a career in ministry (Reformed, not Catholic, so I can keep my Christian Mingle profile running).

So, why am I going to Uganda?

It’s an opportunity to experience a story that’s unique to Uganda and to be able to make that unique story something others can relate to and learn from in their own life. The way Uganda deals with refugees is something that is sure to be different from that of my own home communities here in the United States. There are things to be learned about how this small African country deals with the problems that face it and its neighbors. Things that can be learned, and brought back home.

Next to these experiences, I wish to be able to get better at that last part: bringing it back home. I believe God calls us to do justice, and there are few ways better to  do that than advocating for those at the margins of our societies. I hope that this opportunity gives me the option to learn about film making and writing that will give me a better grasp and ability to share these experiences, and others like it in the future.

Finally, if this pastey white boy is ever going to get a tan, he’s going to need some high powered rays. My mother won’t let me stand shirtless in front of an open microwave, so I guess I’m going to have to do it the normal way that nature intended.

I look forward to the trip, and can’t wait to keep you all updated as it happens!

Operation Streamline

PC: hrw.org
PC: hrw.org

There has never been a definitive, defining moment in my life where I thought, “Yes, this is it. This is why I want to be a lawyer.” I’ve just always sort of known.

Although we had been prepared for what happens during Operation Streamline, I still felt a familiar feeling of excitement when I entered the courthouse. I find law and the idea of justice to be intriguing because visiting courts is like taking a peak into my future.

When I entered Operation Streamline, however, I felt shame. There were about 60 captured migrants in chains and headphones. They were quiet and they looked scared. Despite how angry I felt when I saw the chained people, that anger didn’t compare to what I felt when I saw their lawyers. They looked carefree and comfortable.  They were standing around casually chatting with each other and laughing while their clients sat alone. These were the people I was supposed to look up to?

Now, the moderator in me has to be fair; I have no idea what the lawyers said to the clients before entering the courtroom. They could have been kind and compassionate, I don’t know. What I do know is that if I were in a new country, surrounded by a language that I didn’t understand and waiting to hear my fate, I wouldn’t want the person who was supposed to be fighting for me to look like they were on a lunch break.

My inner optimist would like to believe that these lawyers are good people. They are defending one of the most vulnerable populations, after all. But  I want the migrants to feel respected. I want the process, despite it’s regularity, to be respectable.

Although the whole Operation Streamline process, not just the attorneys, disturbed me. I don’t want it to scare me away from my chose career path; I want it to inspire me to be better.

I guess you could say that it was my definitive, defining moment.

More to come,

Natalie

The Head Vs. the Heart

As we wrapped up our experience in Nogales, I couldn’t help but feel wholeness in my heart after hearing the stories of various individuals but also living amongst those who have lived a life of anguish yet still remained full of hope. However, the complexity of this issue left me with questions unanswered because while the solution to migration lies within humanizing those who suffer, the end to this issue could take much longer for the rest of the population to realize.

Our journey to Nogales was never meant to solve migration. The migrants we walked with and lived alongside with allowed us to see that in even the hardest circumstances, each individual should be treated with dignity, a right that cannot be taken away from them no matter what a government thinks is acceptable punishment. After hearing heartbreaking personal stories and understanding a migrant’s fate called out into a federal courtroom, I know that there is injustice in our society in the treatment of those who suffer. I know because I have seen the effects this inequality has on others and how it has become ingrained into our society.

Flood the System
Artwork I stumbled upon in immigration attorney Isabel Garcia’s office. After my experience in Nogales, there is traction in steps towards creating a more just system of approaching immigration, but many aspects need to be changed.

Dr. O’Keefe made a point in his lecture during our trip that really opened my eyes to what it means to stand in solidarity with others. This is by no means as eloquent as it was when I first heard it, but I’ll try to explain it as accurately as possible. Dr. O’Keefe explained that after his first experience working with marginalized communities, what was once knowledge on the subject that may have been known mentally before being immersed in the community moves and settles in the heart and becomes a much more personal issue after being awakened and made aware of the realities that others may suffer.

It is societal nature to desire to categorize one another and put each other into little boxes that fit us with others who may be like us. Sadly, it’s instinct to want to push rich people to one side and the impoverished to the other, those with fairer skin to one side and those with darker skin to the other, those with brilliant minds and those who were not given those opportunities lie on different sides of the spectrum. We’re so caught up in wanting to organize our lives one way or another that we lose sight of the unity of humanity. No matter what characteristics or life experience we have in common or differ from one another, we all have a purpose on this earth. Some of us may know this reason and may be living out this purpose while others may be searching for what they were destined to do and who they were destined to become, but it’s up to each of us to recognize that a human life, with all of its faults and perfections, is a gift no matter what.