The past month has been a flurry of activity wrapping up classes, putting on events, and teaching, which means it still hasn’t sunk in yet that we are leaving in just a few days. Up to this point, the focus has been on logistical preparation like packing lists, schedules, flights, transportation, and fundraising. As I started to pack and had the chance to catch my breath this weekend, I realized how little mental preparation I have done for the upcoming trip.
Thinking about it, I’m looking forward to the new experiences that branch outside of the contexts I’m comfortable in. In my three years at UIndy, I’ve assisted with many cases that came through our lab, both on recoveries and doing analyses. If this were a lab or an exhumation trip, I feel like I would be better prepared to tackle it as an extension of the work I already do here.
But this trip is different.
While I’m still packing the same list of things I would to work in the lab or on excavations, these will be the only familiar things with me in Texas. What we are doing is new – I think there’s only been one other team that has worked on the water stations. Where we are going is a mix of old and new – while the work is back in Brooks County, I expect we’ll spend a lot more time on the road than on previous exhumation trips here. For me, the biggest part will be the who – outside of my UIndy team members, everyone we interact with will be a new acquaintance. Although this would be the case regardless, since this is my first time with the Beyond Borders work, I think we’ll have a lot more interaction with them than on other types of trips.
I look forward to meeting all the people I’ve heard stories about when each team gets back from their trip. In some sense, I feel like I already know so much about some of them, without ever having met them. The one exception was when Sister Pam came to visit UIndy a couple years ago and we were able to talk with her over a potluck in our old lab. She was just as lively as I had heard. After that experience, I’m excited to meet all the other people I’ve been told about in just a few more days.
In the meantime, my week will be filled with the endless list of things to do before I go – organizing things from the end of the semester, making some progress on my thesis work, cleaning my apartment for the first time in four months, making sure I have everything packed that I’ll need, etc. Most importantly, I’ll be spending some time thinking about the work we’ll be doing, the people we’ll be meeting, and each of our roles in this bigger picture of the migrant death crisis. Internalizing that is the first step for me to approach it with a mind open to new experiences and learning more from them that I can incorporate into my daily life.