Last month, 10 Jesuit students participated in a virtual border immersion experience hosted by the Kino Border Initiative (KBI). Over the course of a week of virtual meetings, the students were able to converse with migrants, staff members, and residents to learn more about the dangers and realities of life along the border.
In past years, students have traveled to Arizona to experience the border immersion firsthand. Although this year's immersion was transformed to a virtual format due to COVID-19, the students were still challenged with the same three main goals for the experience: Humanize, Accompany, and Complicate.
"We were grateful for KBI's efforts to bring the border to us, so we could continue learning and engaging," said Andrea Casey '97, Director of the Arrupe Center for Justice. "It was an incredible opportunity to come together as an intentional community of students and educators who care deeply about the issue of humane immigration reform."
During the immersion, students heard stories and lived experiences directly from migrants and individuals seeking asylum in the United States. After having the chance to meet and hear their experiences, the students offered acknowledgments of their human dignity through affirmations.
Another portion of the immersion allowed students to accompany a KBI staff member on a desert walk to learn the challenges and dangers migrants face on their journeys. Rather than trying to solve problems or offer solutions, the students were asked to empathize and walk in solidarity with the people they met.
Throughout the journey, the students were also faced with the complexity of issues surrounding immigration. Without the constraints of problem solving, the students encountered and examined diverse perspectives and, ultimately, came to the conclusion that there is no simple answer.
"Though it may be a tough, uncomfortable conversation at first," reflected Eliza Collins '22, "we have to be willing to endure the differences of opinion so that we may come together and make real social change."
On the last day of the virtual journey, the students discussed meaningful ways they could bring their experience back to the Jesuit community. As a result, the students will be hosting a donation drive the week of August 10 to collect high need items for the KBI locations in Arizona and Mexico.
KBI Donation Drive Details
- When: August 10-14
- Where: Contact-less drop-off outside the Spirit Store (there will be boxes and signs)
- What: We will be collecting high need items for the Jesuit ministry Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Mexico and Arizona.
- Full list of items: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/give/
- Most needed items (new please):
- Men's underwear (M and L)
- Men's tennis shoes (especially sizes 8 to 9.5)
Special thanks to Ella Sohn '22 and Kanthi Karumbunathan '22 for contributing to this article.