Sitting down to write this blog I feel just as awkward as I did at the start of Welcome Week. It’s the first day of school jitters all over again. And what’s worse is they don’t go away unless you lock onto a tiny bit of courage and introduce yourself. So hi, my name is Rachel O’Neal. I’m a Journalism and International Relations (I.R.) double major. My favorite color is black, my favorite animal is a bison, and I have 6 siblings. Good, now that we have the basics out of the way let’s talk about Backpack Journalism.
While I came to Creighton with the intention of declaring a double major in Journalism and I.R., I heard about the Backpack program long before I became a Journalism major. My freshman faculty advisor was actually the first person to suggest this program because he knew I had a passion for telling stories (the truthful kind). I immediately decided that at some point during my 4 years at Creighton I would go on one of these trips. The fact that this particular trip happens to connect with an issue I am passionate about – immigration – was just an added bonus.
Growing up in California it’s hard to ignore the reality of an unjust immigration system. Families are torn apart by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E) on a daily basis. On Sundays families and interfaith groups gather to protest I.C.E. holding centers with candlelight vigils. And the list of these types of events goes on. What people fail to understand when they watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh is that the people these so-called journalists spew hatred about are living, breathing human beings. Undocumented workers aren’t statistics to be used to fear monger. They’re people just like you and me.
As a Jesuit University its imperative that we address this topic so that people understand what respect for human dignity truly means. It’s not a sermon to be given on Sunday and promptly forgotten on Monday. It’s a lifestyle. Recognizing that no human is illegal is fundamental to this tenet of Jesuit Catholicism, which is why I am excited to be a part of this journey.