The wall, looming above me, steel metal plates leaving only a small gap. Barbed wire meticulously placed. To reduce fear. Fear. We see immigrants as inhuman and as statistics, but do we really know who they are?
On March 27, Shelley, a professor from Simmons University on a sabbatical with her husband Jonathan, met with us to discuss the history behind the US-Mexican border. I was uneducated before her presentation since I have always lived in the Connecticut bubble of gathering information and developing my opinions based on only the media. Her presentation discussed all the wrongdoings of the United States in regards to immigration, as well as allowed me to develop a whole new perspective. One of the statistics that resonated with me was that the number of border patrol agents have increased from 4,100 to 23,600 agents from 1992-2018. This statistic made me realize the vast amount of resources the United States government has put into the process of dehumanization, the wall.
Not only did we meet Shelley but we also met with a man named Balty. Balty is an educator, and a powerhouse at that. He started his own school called Mexicayotl for grades K-8 after teaching in public schools for many years. His belief was that public school limited students from experiential learning, and with that, he stated that his school is all about figuring out who you really are in order to know where you want to go in life. Education has always been an important factor in my life with my mom working in a school system and my desire to pursue education as a career, and he inspired me significantly. Also, his school is top three in the nation and has won a blue ribbon. He taught me that learning by experience is just as beneficial as traditional learning, if not more.
Part of our time with Shelley and Balty was on action planning and how we can carry out and use our new knowledge to benefit society and make systemic and social changes. During this time I was able to speak one on one with Balty on education, specifically equity and how he developed his school. I learned that he is probably one of the coolest people I have met thus far, and he lit a fire under me to want to create change. Additionally, at this time I made a goal about an action I want to take back to my community which reinforced my passion for equity and access in education.
Overall, this time with Shelley and Balty has been very reformative in relation to my previous opinions, ideas, and values and of course, I have learned a ton. I hope one day I can cross paths with Shelley and Balty again.