Tag Archives: thankful

Because of Backpack…

I anticipated that I would finish the five weeks with new knowledge of immigration, the ability to turn a camera on and other practical skills every journalism student should know. I had no idea that the knowledge would change me. I know, I know that it sounds incredibly cliché, but it’s true.

Because of Backpack… I am a seeker of truth.

Because of Backpack… I am margin traveler.

Because of Backpack… I am a listener.

Because of Backpack… I am a team player.

In my first blog, I wrote about how I am a “Yes Woman.” And even though I found this trip by saying no, it taught me that it is almost always right to say yes. By saying yes to the early morning B-roll, the extra interview, the longer explanation… I have learned so much and gained an incredible amount of confidence. It is Because of Backpack that I have grown as a writer, a film maker and as a friend. Saying yes, even to something that scared me, has been the greatest decision of my life.

Because of Backpack… I am thankful.

 

My teammates. My friends.
My teammates. My friends.

 

So, what is something I can do differently based upon what I learned? I can stop worrying about needing to say no and start embracing my love of yes.

For now,

Natalie

Peace in the valley

image
The wall

Located in the valley of a desert, Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora is a place where hardships are suffered but the light of God shines. It is a land of harsh heat during the days and cool, brisk nights. The sun is ablaze at high noon and the stars shine bright during the stillness of night.

I have witnessed first hand from migrants the difficult journey that they have embarked on. I have shed tears with them, I have laughed with them, I have prayed with them. I have walked along a portion of where they walk in order to cross the border. I see their faith lift up not only their own spirits but their brothers and sisters around them. I do not think I have ever witnessed God’s wondrous works in such a way that I have witnessed in this border town.

On a long drive back to our house tonight, I couldn’t help but reflect on my life. From as far back as I can remember to the present, the amount of blessings and opportunities I have been given is humbling. The support of my parents and family is unreal. I would not be the person I am today with out my friends, neighbors, classmates, teachers, and family. I want to thank all of you who read my blogs and for the comments and prayers. I really do appreciate the support especially on this part of my journey.

Sitting here, looking up to the stars shining bright on this suffering earth I feel hopeful that one day this world, this country, this Nogales will be a better and safer land. Many people we have interviewed talk about the youth of the world. I can see what they mean by how the youth of this world are our hope. Looking into the eyes of my fellow classmates and others that I come across, I see the hope, the vision, and the will to make our world better. My hope is to tear down barriers of race, gender, religions, and countries. The wall that stands no more than 5 miles from where I am right now is a symbol of a corrupt, divided human race.

Even in the shadows of the mountains around, God is here in the people of Nogales. You can see it in theirs smiles, their eyes, and their attitude towards life. People here do not have that much but what they do have is God and for many, that is what sustains them. The migrants especially have this sense of strength and hope that radiates off of them. It amazes me how strong in faith they are even in life’s toughest situations. They still believe and trust in God.

Cross painted by migrant
Cross painted by migrant

My prayer is for these migrants who risk all they have to try and live a better life. For the world and all of its cuts and wounds that bleed and blister. For an end to all divisions and divides that cast shadows on the earth. And for the strength and courage that I see in the people of Nogales and the migrants who pass through it.  Amen.

Thanksgiving in May

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of May. Joanna took us to the Kino Border Initiative’s humanitarian shelter for women migrants, Casa Nazaret. We met women and children who had been staying in an apartment room on the top floor of a rickety old building. As we reached the top, we were greeted with grins and giggles by the families seeking shelter.

We listened to a presentation about the people who the Casa Nazaret served. I learned that the Border Patrol has a program that is aimed to interrupt migration routes by separating families traveling together. This makes families more vulnerable in an infinite amount of ways.

A fact that left me bewildered was that 75% of these women have had less than a middle school education.

How could this be when I have had the privilege of attending an all-girls private, college preparatory school. I had a flashback of all the things I had learned there and how much I had developed into a confident, independent, thinking leader.

I asked Joanna why this was. She said that even though education was free, families still had to provide money for books and uniforms and transportation. Most families can barely even afford their children taking time off of work to attend school. Since the education for women is so low, it becomes harder as they grow older to find work. Weavings of Hope is a program that provides women with the opportunity to have some sort of income by making bracelets.

Women are able to weave bracelets and sell them as a way to make money. The process of making these bracelets is meditative and can also have a huge impact psychologically.
Women are able to weave bracelets and sell them as a way to make money. The process of making these bracelets is meditative and can also have a huge impact psychologically.

After the presentation, I read testimonial after testimonial of women who had passed through Casa Nazaret. I found the main thing that tied a lot of the stories together was family.

I remember one story about a woman who had grown up in a family where she had been neglected simply because she had been born with the wrong set of chromosomes. She was abused both physically and mentally in the most crucial stages of her life. As she started to have children of her own, she made a promise to herself to never expose her children to the hardships she had known growing up. She crossed the border illegally and had four children in America, a place where she could receive aid and her children could receive an adequate education.

One day, she had been driving her daughter to an appointment. She was pulled over, handcuffed, and taken to be detained right in front of her daughter. She had no time to gather her things or say goodbye to her husband or her children. This women was deported back to Mexico, miles away from the loves of her life. But how could she call her children and explain why she had to leave?

At the end of today, I am thankful. I am thankful for the opportunity of not only an education, but one that celebrates what being a women means. I am thankful to have been able to focus on my studies rather than having to work all of the time at a young age. I am thankful for having job opportunities that provide me with more than $4 at the end of my shift. I’m thankful for the nurturing family that continues to care about my whole well being and supports me.

I’m Sorry

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know that I apologize a lot. I tend to sympathize with whoever I am with, and try to communicate that I feel with whatever they are going through. It’s been my way of trying to be there for another person. It’s me verbalizing a hug, or giving myself to that person.

But as if I don’t say I’m sorry enough times in a day, I’ve found a few more reasons to say it.

I’m sorry. To those affected by climate change, especially those here in Bethel. For too long I’ve lived in my own little bubble. Though I’ve always believed that climate change was an issue, I never saw its effects and therefore did not give it much thought. But the lives that it is affecting here in Bethel are real, and it has opened my eyes to the true damage that climate change is having on our world.

I’m sorry. For the times I’ve lived my life selfishly. Living my life with only my future and my plans in mind. The times that I fall into the mind set of forgetting all the other people, communities, and cultures in this world, and taking for granted the connections we all have as a global society.

I’m sorry. For the times I’ve been thoughtless and wasteful; Whether I mean in terms of material, resources, relationships, or abilities. I know that I have been blessed in my life with my father as a strong provider,my mother as a strong supporter, family and friends to rely on, and many opportunities and resources to help me get further in my life. And while I have been blessed with all these things, there are numerous times that I have taken them all for granted. I need to step back and take a look at my life, and keep myself and my blessings in check.

I’m sorry. For not believing in myself to be capable of invoking change and making a difference in this world. Too often I over look my own thoughts and beliefs as small and insignificant. I am only one person, out of millions. With the mentality of “What difference could I ever make?” I am never challenged to take a stand, and work towards change.

Nelson, I’m sorry.
I hope more people, in Bethel and throughout the world, can learn to be as well.

I do owe you thanks, though as well.

Thank you for your dedication and passion for climate change. Thank you for your words. Thank you for touching my heart, and helping me to see the true emotional affects happening because of climate change.
Thank you for inspiring me.