Left my Heart in Texas

Classes are done and I’ve finally handed in my last term paper for the semester, but now it’s time to switch gears and start planning and packing for Texas. In truth, I’ve been waiting all year for this trip. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to go again. The work we’ve done in Texas has left a lasting impression on me and I’ve been thinking and reflecting on it all year. In quiet moments, I often find myself thinking about all the border crossers and their journeys to get to somewhere safer than the chaos that they’re leaving. I think about all the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, and so on that are wondering why they haven’t heard from their loved ones and where they are. My heart goes out to them, truly.

What I most look forward to this trip is volunteering at the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC). Although, I love doing laboratory work and the skeletal analyses we conduct at Texas State University, it’s sometimes nice to get out of the lab. At times being in the lab makes me feel isolated from the problem happening at the south Texas-Mexico border. I know that our work in helping to identify border crossers is important, but when we’re out in the community working with other organizations and sometimes the border crossers themselves, I can actually see the direct impact our work is making.

I am excited to help build and maintain the water stations again at STHRC. I look forward to the long rides, down hot dusty roads to fill up each of the water stations dotted along the various routes in Falfurrias. I won’t even mind the prickly little burr plants that sometimes surround the stations. They get stuck on our socks and shoes and as I start to pack, I’m still finding a couple that managed to make it home with me on my field gear. The water stations were tough work last time, but it’s worth it if even one person finds a station and gets the lifesaving water that they need.

Justin and another volunteer repairing a water station.

I’m also excited about seeing all of our friends in Falfurrias and at Texas State University. I look forward to working with them all again and can’t wait to see how much progress they’ve made since the last time we visited. For now, I will continue to pack and get my life in order before we make our trip to Texas this weekend.