Tag Archives: border

A Pilgrimage of Our Own

I have never been on a pilgrimage.

I’ve always imagined what it would look like. Long travel days. Poor hygiene. An air of excitement. I can happily say that I was almost right. Our group’s hygiene is on fleek.

Over the last two days we have traveled over 1,400 miles in a total of 24 hours of driving. There has been sleeping, singing, sight-seeing and more sleeping. Our already fun group grew even closer; I guess two vans full of antsy students is to blame.

Even though we were driving to the border, we didn’t discuss it or our mission much. The vibe of the van changed when we approached the outskirts of the city. The beautiful desert scenery was obstructed with border control and a giant drone searching for immigrants in the mountains. It was surreal. I felt like I was in a movie rather than my own country. We played inspirational music and remained silent until we approached our home for the next two weeks. Those final moments in the car set the mood for our mission.

Here is a quote that I have kept with me in travels throughout Europe a that I see fit for this journey:

“A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which significant change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained. New and old places in the heart are visited. Blessings are received and healing takes place. On return from the pilgrimage, life is seen with different eyes. Nothing will ever be quite the same again,” Macrina Wiederkehr.

 

 

Here is our group after we arrived in AZ.

Tomorrow we are entering Mexico, filming B roll and interviewing an employee of the Kino Border Initiative.

For now, I’m exhausted.

More to come,
Natalie

Positive(ly) Privilege(d)

Today was, by far, the most draining day of bootcamp.

It could be that it is day five of our intense training into the documentary world. It could be that I procrastinated on packing. It could be that we participated in an emotional  discussion with alumni of the program. It could be that we discussed heavy topics, such as the guilt that comes with privilege. It could be that we watched a documentary about teenagers who only have the option to join a gang or migrate. More than likely, it is a combination of all of these reasons.

After an exhausting day, I was excited to go home, relax and get some sleep. Well… It is 1:58a.m. and I am laying in bed next to a duffle with a broken zipper and a grocery bag full of Gushers.

I am nervous I didn’t pack the right things. I am mad because I smudged my freshly painted nails. I am cranky that I have to be up in four hours.

Aren’t I annoying? After all I’ve watched and learned this week about the struggles that Mexicans and Latin Americans endure just to enter my country, my biggest problem is that I can’t fit my flip-flops in my bag.

In class, John brought up the point about how easy it is to forget one’s privilege when one is surrounded by people with the same privilege. This documentary is meant to give a voice to the voiceless and make those who are are deaf to the issue hear. He also discussed how their was a John before Africa and a John after Africa

I hope that listening to and telling these stories will increase my awareness of my privilege and put my “problems” into perspective. I hope that I can turn my guilt into inspiration. I hope that I can find the Natalie after Noglaes.

Please pray for safe travel.

Creighton Backpack Journalism crew
The group on our last day of bootcamp.

 

More to come,

Natalie

 

 

Nothing.

“So, what did you learn at school today?”

“Nothing.”

While this conversation was common in my house, I don’t think I would pass Carol’s class with a one word blog post. Not only would it be taking cutting copy to the next level, but it would be a total and complete lie.

So, what did I learn in school today? Or, the last three days I should say.

I’ve learned about shutter speeds, asking open-ended questions, ecclesiology, the rule of thirds, Pulitzer Prize winners, paradigm shifts, boom mics, content management systems, Vatican II, Nico’s sad face, Snickerdoodle recipes, John’s hair history…

These are only a few topics that have been covered throughout the last several days of backpack bootcamp. I could dedicate a blog post to each, but I would lose readers and probably some friends.

So, what have I really learned? That I can do this.

I can shoot video, edit it, and understand that it takes more than a filter to look good.

I can reference brilliant work and use that inspiration to formulate questions, anticipate answers and tastefully seek the truth.

I can educate others on the connection between my faith and an active social justice issue.

Finally, I learned that I have the best group to learn right along with me.

Thanks for the photo, Aly.
Thanks for the photo, Aly.

 

I used to say nothing, now I have everything.

Arizona awaits.

More to come,

Natalie

 

Finding myself in a foreign place

I’m indoorsy. I always have been. The closest I’ve come to camping in the last year is roasting some marshmallows… on my stovetop. Whether it’s the humid heat that makes your clothes stick to your back, or a stinging frost that takes your breath away, I think suffering through extreme weather conditions is for the birds. Add crawling creatures, biting insects and foul smells to the list, and you’ll grasp my general relationship with the “great outdoors”.

Perhaps that’s why the thought of Aly Schreck backpacking through southern Arizona and Mexico might look a lot like Aly Schreck when her mom made her go on the annual family vacation to Adventurland: not happy.

Younger Aly, crossing her arms.

But in less than a week, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

Why would I do this to myself? Why make this journey? Why did I agree to sit in a university van for over 20 hours to make the trek from Omaha, Nebraska to Nogales, Arizona and then across the border into Mexico?

I guess to put it simply; I’m going to listen, to learn and to respond. But maybe most importantly, I’m going to relate.

It’s no secret that immigration issues and policy have been a hot topic in national discussion in recent years. The word itself carries with it so many political, religious and negative implications. Through watching and reading the news coverage, I’ve gained a basic understanding of the issue at hand, however, I am still unsatisfied with where I stand.

In working with the Kino Border Initiative, and through interviewing those affected by immigration first-hand on this Creighton Backpack Journalism trip, I hope to discover so much more about the topic.

I’ll begin by listening. In hearing the raw stories, perspectives and concerns of those impacted by immigration, I want to learn about the key problems and possible solutions, and therefore see what I, as an American student, can do to respond. What is my role in this complex picture?

Throughout the every step of this process, I want work to relate to those I am interacting with. What would I do if I were in their shoes? I want to quit unconsciously thinking of this as an issue between us (the United States), and them, (the migrants). Rather I want to discover how to make this a conversation “we” can discuss together.

As one of my favorite journalists, Walter Cronkite, said, “In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story,” and on through this experience I hope to do just that.

Whether or not I will gain all of these specific insights during this journey is uncertain. However, I am absolutely positive that in leaving the comfort of the indoors, I will discover a part of myself in a foreign place.

So join me, along with my new friends and first-ever pair of hiking shoes, on the 2016 Creighton Backpack Journalism adventure!

Creighton Backpack Journalism group 2016 on day one.
Creighton Backpack Journalism group 2016 selfie.

 

 

The Little, Latin Word

 

Hello dedicated readers (probably my parents),

 

My name is Natalie Riordan and I am a journalism student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. For the next several weeks, my classmates and I will be creating a documentary about immigration. Please think of us in your prayers or positive thoughts as we embark to the border (see Nogales on map below).
Arizona/Mexico Border
For those of you who don’t know, like me when I first applied, Creighton is a Jesuit school. Magis was the first Jesuit value I was taught upon my arrival to Creighton almost three years ago. Magis simply means “more”. While the definition may be simple, the actions to fulfill it are much more complex.

Before I knew that little, Latin word, I felt it inside of me. In high school, I was dedicated to my studies, dance, volunteering and leadership. I was internally competitive, completely motivated and entirely overwhelmed. I wanted to be successful, not for me, but for the parents who dedicated themselves just so I had the opportunity.

I still feel magis inside, fueling me, throughout my college experience. The motivation of magis is why I decided to complete three majors and a minor in four years, why I studied in Italy for a semester, why I’ve had three internships, why I hold executive office on three different campus organizations and why I am going on this trip.

I used to think that magis was measured through a quantitative method; if my planner was not filled, I failed. It is only day one and this trip has already taught me that the philosophy of magis is more about the quality of work.

For the first time, this documentary will be the only responsibility that I will focus on. I want to give more to my classmates, professors and to the people and stories that I will tell. I am excited to go beyond the textbook and experience what it is like to be a real journalist.  I am scared of the unknown and the horrors that I may hear. I am motivated, in a new way, by magis.

More to come,

Natalie