This post has been really hard for me to write. Not because I have a lack of things to say, but because it is hard to put my experience into words.
I learned so incredibly much while down in Texas. Not only did I gain more experience with forensic archeological techniques, more importantly, I experienced the humanitarian side of this crisis at a deeply personal level. As I have written in a previous post, growing up in Michigan and now attending school in Indiana, I have been very removed from what’s occurring at the border. Going to Texas was my first experience with this humanitarian crisis, and it hit me really, really hard. Meeting individuals and families who survived the journey where so many perish was an extremely powerful and emotional experience for me. While we always show respect for bones, talking with the individuals who survived the same conditions experienced by those being exhumed in the burial park added a new and unique dimension to understanding the crisis at the border and its relationship to humanitarianism. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to volunteer at the Respite Center because experiencing this side of the crisis ignited inside of me a passion for humanitarian work.
Although we accomplished a lot while down in Texas, there is still so much to be done and because of that, it doesn’t feel right to back in Indy. I wish we could have stayed longer and helped more, but it’s reassuring to know that the efforts down there don’t stop when we leave. Everyone involved in Sacred Heart Humanitarian Respite Center, South Texas Human Rights Center, Operation Identification, as well as the various other organizations committed to identification and bringing awareness to the crisis at the border remain hard at work. I am grateful to have been able to meet some of the individuals involved in these organizations, the work they do is truly amazing.
With the start of a new semester, assignments, projects, papers, and deadlines will begin to consume my time once again. No matter how busy I get, I will never forget the experiences I had in Texas. These experiences have changed me in many ways; they have allowed me to grow as a scientist, as an anthropologist, as an individual, and as an advocate. I only hope that I am able to return to South Texas once again to volunteer my time to aid in this crisis. So, Texas, it’s not goodbye, but see you later.