Category Archives: Reflections

Reflections on how we feel and how the mission is changing us

Round 2

Tomorrow, myself and the rest of our group will be heading to South Texas to start another field season. This will be my second time in Texas and I am excited to be able to participate in this humanitarian effort. This field season will be different from the last because the first part of our trip with be spent at Texas State University to assist with skeletal analysis. This will be a first for me and I am not entirely sure what to expect. I am excited to visit the lab at Texas State University and to see their facilities. As for the skeletal analysis, I suspect this will be especially challenging for many reasons.

The second part of our trip, our group along with Texas State faculty and students, will be traveling to Starr County Texas to start excavations of  graves of unidentified border crossers. Although I had the opportunity to go to Texas in January, I feel like these two trips are going to be vastly different for many reasons. In January we certainly lucked out with the weather; in fact, one day it felt like we never left Indiana with how cold it was. Our group also benefited with having been to Sacred Heart Cemetery in Falfurrias, TX for several years before the most recent trip. This field season we will be going in the middle of May where the temperatures will most likely be in the high 90’s (if not higher) not to mention we will be in a completely new area. New city, new cemetery, new soil- all of these things play into our old saying of ‘expect the unexpected’. I am confident in saying that the title of this trip, like so many in the past, will be centered around the unexpected. The excitement I feel for this trip also comes with a heavy heart knowing that this trip would not be happening if these people had not died in an attempt to flee their home countries. Something that I find comfort in, is knowing that at the end of every field season, we are one step closer to getting identifications and one step closer to returning them to their families. This will be the most challenging field season yet and I’m confident in my group, as well as Texas State, that we will be successful in our endeavors. I can also say that I’m not terribly excited to be faced with my only true enemy, the dreaded sticker burrs. They are literally the worst.

I see this excursion as an adventure of hope, happiness, and hard work. I love the challenge and the inspiration that comes afterwards, it just shows how rewarding this experience is to all of the volunteers. Here’s to a new season of hope and adventure- stay tuned for our blog posts and if you have not already, check out our short video that our team members made! You can also help support our trip by donating here or here.

Thank you! Jessica





Ready to Go

I am so grateful to be returning to South Texas to continue the humanitarian work on the border! As I anticipate our departure in less than a week, I find myself far calmer than I felt the first time. Surprisingly, I feel that this is at least partly due to some of the differences between this upcoming trip and the last one in January.

We will be starting our time in South Texas working in the lab at Texas State University, helping to analyze some of the remains being curated there. I am especially eager assist with these analyses and to have the opportunity to work with faculty and students from Texas State and observe the way they do things in their lab and how that might differ from our normal procedures. I also know that they have some very nice facilities and equipment, which will be very cool to see! More importantly, however, I feel that the lab portion of this season will be an emotionally impactful experience. Being so close to the remains of the migrants and contributing to the creation of biological profiles that may someday help to identify them will be a very rewarding and, at the same time, heartbreaking experience. I am excited to have the opportunity to help with another step of this very important process.

I suspect the field work portion of this season will also be quite different, in that we are moving to a new city and a new cemetery. With this new area, I believe our motto of “expect the unexpected” will never have been more appropriate.

All of the differences between this season and the last should scare me, but really, I’m excited! I believe that the experience that me and my fellow teammates have gained from our previous season in Texas, as well as from all of our previous training, will help us to overcome any obstacles that may come our way. And I am excited for the challenge.

See you soon Texas!



Fears, Worries, and Excitement

As the craziness of my first year at the University of Indianapolis winds down and our departure to South Texas fast approaches, I keep asking myself if I am prepared.  I wonder if I have bought all the things that are necessary for the 12 days I will spend in Texas.  I wonder if I am prepared both emotionally and physically for this trip.  I imagine how it will be, but the reality is that I have no idea what it will be like until I get there and I am immersed in the work we will do.  I am both extremely excited and extremely terrified at the same time.

I am terrified to encounter a scorpion or a snake, but I am excited to overcome my fear of these creatures.  I am nervous about how hot it will be while we are there, but I am excited to be in a different culture and meet different people.  I have heard that Texas food is very spicy and I am not a big fan of spicy food.  However, this will be an excellent way to become more accustomed to spicy foods.

Over all of my fears and worries though, I am excited and humbled to be a part of this amazing mission.  I have a strong belief that every person on this earth deserves the same basic human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  I believe that regardless of sex or ancestry, every person deserves to live a free and happy life and if an untimely death occurs, every person should be reunited with their family.  In my “Human Rights” and “Peace and Justice Studies” classes at Michigan State, we delved deep into basic human rights and how those rights have been denied to people over the course of our history.  We discussed how we might be able to help people who are denied the basic rights of life and we talked about how it seems impossible sometimes, to help people who are in desperate need of assistance.  I wish this world were perfect.  I wish that no human would ever suffer and I wish that no human would ever be left unidentified.  Unfortunately, that is not our reality.  The reality is that a crisis is occurring at our border and the world needs to know about it.  While I cannot stop this crisis, nor directly inform the world of it, I feel extremely grateful to be a small part of the process working towards change.

As the days fly by and our departure to South Texas rapidly approaches, I find myself eager.  I am eager to take part in this amazing mission.  I am eager to visit Texas.  I am eager to try spicy food.  I am eager to meet new people and get to know my team better.  And I am eager to better understand the crisis occurring at the border.  I know that the knowledge I will gain while in Texas will positively impact me, and I look forward to sharing this knowledge with my family and friends.