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Our Experience in Another Country, Mexico Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Anum Khan, United States Jun 22, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Poverty , Human Rights   Opinions


No one can fully understand the impact one can have on another person until you look into their eyes and see the light of hope that you gave them. That was something we started to see and understand when we had the opportunity to go on a leadership trip to Mexico, paid for by the Institute for Civic Leadership at the Dwight School. Who knew that two weeks could turn your life around? We were able to gain a powerful vision of Mexican culture and lifestyle by visiting youth centers, migrant shelters, and staying with host families. We were introduced to some of the issues that are occurring today on the US-Mexico border and how it affects the people who are living beyond the border.
It’s not easy talking to an eleven-year old from a youth shelter whose parents are in America and who has tried crossing the border a couple of times, but got caught by the U.S. Border Patrol. What can you say to him and his friends, the only family he has in his life, staying at this shelter? Jokingly, when our leadership group asks him what he likes to do for fun, he says, “Trying to get across the border.” There is nothing we can say to him in response, but laugh and pretend he’s only kidding. The shelter “mom” tells us that these kids come in and out of shelters like these, trying to find a better life for themselves. When we ask about school, he is silent. It is quickly apparent that it is better to not have brought up that subject because for them, the first priority is making money to survive, not education.
After talking, we played basketball with them in the shelter‘s small parking lot. Most of us didn’t speak or understand Spanish (we had translators), but we all still connected. We enjoyed a fun game of basketball, and laughed when the basketball went into the small puddle of water near the basketball “hoop” for the fourth time. These boys were really good at their game, and there were some show-offs, but in the end, their lives were something we can never come to understand. They are the same ages as us, and even younger, but it’s impossible to compare how hard they have it to the lives we inhabit. The only thing we have in common is that we are all teenagers and like basketball.
It was hard to have these kids confide in us, but once we showed them that they could trust us, they opened up and let us in. We tried to hold back all the emotions we were feeling of sadness, helplessness, and anger, because these kids don’t want us feeling sorry for them, they just want to have a normal life. Their stories of survival were amazing and what they face on a daily basis is unimaginable.
Issues like this can become very complicated. Is it their fault that they got caught trying to cross the border, or is it their fault they were born in a country where they can’t get the same fortunes that we get today in America? We can’t say close the door to all immigrants, but we also can’t say, “Everyone, come in.” Our eyes have opened to a lot of new experiences, and the only thing we can do right now is share what we have learned with others and encourage others to look around them and observe the world they live in.



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Writer Profile
Anum Khan

I am a Muslim-American born and raised in New York. I am passionate about global issues and being socially responsible. My dream is to make a positive impact on this world. Currently, my major is Middle East Studies.

human rights
chiezie lucy | Jul 28th, 2006
I think i can understand how Anum felt and i can't even begin to imagine the life of those youths.But the fact still remains that they feel like victims instead of victors and i hope and pray that they, will find what they seek and be forever consoled.

Laura Müller | Sep 21st, 2006
I´am glad you have the opportunity to visit my country and get to know the real problems we have in the border, I live in Chihuahua, very close to El Paso Texas, and I really believe that is very importanto USA people and organizations to know the reasons why people cross the border and try to find a better way of living in your country, as you have been here I think you have a big responsability as a young leader to give a better way of living to aliens in your country. At the end we are all humans...........

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