Tag Archives: reflection

Unanswered questions

There are no easy solutions to immigration. There are issues in every sector and across both sides of the border. The corruption that is the immigration system means that we are far from having a solution.

I can walk away from this project saying that I still don’t understand everything there is to know about immigration. Some of the questions I’m left with include:

I need to know why we have not had immigration reform before this. I need to know why we are constantly seeking the most simplistic answers to the most difficult questions.  I need to know why we cannot band together when we clearly know the wrong of something, but refuse to do anything about it.

I am deeply concerned about my beautiful and wonderful country turning into one I am no longer proud to live in by those who wish to turn us back in time to “ greed is good.”

I can only hope those dearest to me will not drop the ball, but fight for the rights of all who are here to live in this land and respect the people who have come here for a better life.

This experience has drastically changed what I thought about immigration. I went in thinking one thing and left with thinking another.

I encourage whoever is reading this blog to educate themselves on immigration. It is a very real situation that is happening right outside. Seek out sources and individuals that challenge your current way of thinking.

And remember you can’t build a wall against hope.

A symbol of peace and love on the wall in downtown Nogales, Sonora

Sleeping with Masks

Yesterday was unique because we had the entire afternoon and evening to just do whatever we pleased. Everyone took a different approach to exploring Bethel, but once night fell, we were all pretty exhausted from our week of activities. Around 10:30 PM, AKA right as I was about to go to bed, Tony and Nichole announced that they were going on a sunset walk. Naturally, sleep became unimportant and several of us tagged along.

The sunset was unbelievable. Casting the most gorgeous rays across the sky, I felt like we were walking directly into the sun itself. As night began to fall, the sky became a canvas of purple, pink and blue brush strokes. Blending into a masterpiece right before our very eyes, I couldn’t help but feel the magic of this town.

On our walk back though, I was heavily reminded of the real reason we’re here. Three children, ages roughly 16, 12 and 8, the first of which I had met earlier that day, walked us back to the Church. We were talking and getting to know each other, each parties equally interested in the lifestyle of the other. We asked the oldest how late she normally stays out, and she responded with 2 or 3 AM. Naturally we asked how late she sleeps in and she responded with, “about 1 PM; my mom usually is drinking by then. Not my dad though.” And the youngest told us that he is already chewing tobacco. Heartbreaking.

We’ve all had such an amazing trip so far, but it’s easy to forget that despite how many native people we connect with, our trip is not the reality of life here in Bethel. People are struggling with poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, historical trauma and trying to live a life based on subsistence and culture despite the pressure to change to the western way of thinking.

It’s like sleeping with masks on to block out the sun. We’re able to dream of wonderful things and focus on the beauty while ignoring the painful reality around us.

Good Morning, Sunshine!

A morning view from one of our many bus rides.

One thing that I will never be able to explain is my temporary shift from night owl to early bird while in Uganda.

My mornings in Uganda typically included the eager crows of roosters as my own personal alarm clock, misty fog in the distance, and a nice piece of bread with honey and fresh fruit. Back in the United States, morning is usually a stressful whirl of figuring out what I need to accomplish in the day. In Uganda, my mornings were the least stressful time of day because for that small period of time, I was not worried.

It was a refreshingly calm period of time amidst our hectic and often unpredictable schedule of events

Marcus Aurelius said, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” There are few moments in the United States that I have ever dedicated to appreciating the simple fact that I am alive. However, the thought crossed my mind each and every morning I spent in Uganda.

I found myself waking up even earlier than necessary just to spend more time sitting with my breakfast and taking a minute just to breathe. I didn’t worry about what we needed to film that day, how long we needed to be on the bus, or even which day of the week it was. For that short period of time, I let myself just be. I embraced the minimal number of bugs in the air and welcomed the warm sunshine on my face.

Morning begins every new day and every new day should be celebrated.



There’s a Reason You Are Here

Our class on the last day in Uganda (Photo Credit: Alison Prater)

To say this trip has been an emotional roller coaster would not only be slightly cliche, it would be an understatement. It’s more like the roller coaster broke down while we were upside down…then it started to pour rain. I’ve seen the pain in people’s eyes behind their smiles, the harsh and unfair conditions in which much of this world lives, and unimaginable suffering. I’ve been overwhelmed, impatient, and frustrated. There’s been times when I just wished I could pause the world long enough to gather my thoughts, but someone pushes fast forward instead.

During our reflection a few nights ago, Dr, O’Keefe said, “You all came here for a reason.” And we did. I did. I was not entirely sure for the majority of this trip (hence the awkward “Meet Gabby” video, there’s a reason I spend my time behind the camera) and I don’t think I will ever be able to reach a definite conclusion, but I’m getting there. I know I brought the mood down in that opening paragraph, but sometimes you have to be overwhelmed to understand and to feel weak to discover strength.

I’ve seen the power of giving, the power of forgiveness, and the power of kindness. I’ve laughed, danced, sang, and smiled. I came here to remind myself who I am, what I want to do, and where I want to go. So yes, these have been two of the most emotionally tolling and challenging weeks of my life, but they have also been two of the best. I’ve had the opportunity to experience a new culture filled with generosity and a welcoming spirit, pretend to be a famous filmmaker with my fancy camera, and learned to appreciate all that I have in my life. Not to mention, I’ve formed new friendships with all the students and teachers on this trip, but I am sure I will dedicate an entire blog to them later.

I can’t believe it’s our last night in Uganda and that I will be on a plane in just about 24 hours. It’s all happened so fast, yet when I look back at it I feel like I have been here for months. I may be ready to go home, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave Uganda. Then again, Uganda has earned a special place in my heart so it’s not really going anywhere.

Keep on keepin’ on


Don’t let your hearts grow numb. Stay alert.” –Albert Schweitzer