Looking back and moving forward

It has been almost two weeks since I have been home from Texas; well one week if you count the time that myself and other students spent in Boulder City, NV attending the Mountain, Desert, and Coastal Forensic Anthropology Conference. The thing with staying busy, is that it does not allow you to think or dwell on certain matters which can be both positive and negative. With traveling and then feeling under the weather (I’m highly allergic to Nevada apparently), I am just now able to process what happened down in Texas this field season. Everything was different compared to my first field season at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Falfurrias, TX in January 2017.

Sunrise over RGC Cemetery
Sunrise over RGC Cemetery

After coming home in January, I was flooded with all sorts of emotions stemming from my time in Falfurrias. I attribute most of those emotions to visiting ‘the wall’ and volunteering at the Respite Center. During my trip, I did not allow myself to really process what was happening and the experience I had at the Respite Center. When I got home, I did not even make it through the drive home from the airport before I was so overcome with emotions that I cried most of the ride. I loved every minute that I spent at the Respite Center and I hope that in the future I can volunteer there again. When conducting field investigations at a cemetery, it is easier to remove yourself emotionally from the situation than when dealing with people who are still alive to tell their stories. In previous blog posts (from Jan), I know it was mentioned about the gentleman and his daughter who crossed the border, who came forward to tell us their story of how they got there. There was also another lady, who was traveling with her three daughters, who also shared her story. I’ll never forget those moments, I don’t think anyone in that room that day will ever forget.

When I came home in January, I felt motivated and inspired. I wanted to spread the news of what is happening and to educate those who may not understand completely the hardships people face below the border. This time, I still feel that same motivation and the need to continue volunteering in this effort. I am also amazed at how much more I have learned regarding the situation going on in South Texas as well as what is happening in Mexico.

Overlook of the Rio Grande River into Mexico
Overlook of the Rio Grande River into Mexico

The Mountain, Desert, and Coastal meeting could not have come at a better time. This year, the second day at the conference was a symposium on the ‘Sociopolitics of Migrant Deaths’ which had speakers from UIndy, the Colibri Center, the PCOME, Texas State University, and a journalist who is currently residing in Mexico. This symposium gave a whole new perspective about the humanitarian crisis in South Texas and what is also happening along the US/Mexico border.

Overlook of Lake Mead in Boulder City, NV
Overlook of Lake Mead in Boulder City, NV

Although I am not flooded with as many emotions as I had after being exposed to this humanitarian crisis for the first time, I feel that this trip has further solidified that this on-going effort isn’t about me or the other parties involved; it is about them. Them being those who have died that are still waiting to be identified and their families who are still waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones. After this trip, I have realized that this humanitarian effort isn’t something that will be completed in 1 year. This is an on-going effort and I would not be surprised if 10 years from now- this volunteer work is still be accomplished. I am forever grateful to have been able to be a part of this humanitarian effort and I hope to have the opportunity to continue volunteering in the future. As of right now, there is already another field season planned for January 2018 and again in May 2018. 

Group photo at MD&C Forensic Anthropology Conference
Group photo at MD&C Forensic Anthropology Conference

Jessica

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