As I sit on my couch, I find myself contemplating the events of my first year of graduate school and I can’t help but to feel so grateful for the amount of opportunities that I’ve had the privilege to take. I couldn’t have accomplished so much if it wasn’t for the overwhelming support of my family and friends. But, as the departure date for this year’s summer trip to Texas approaches, I am far from ready to take a break.
These past couple of weeks, I’ve been so preoccupied with the end of the semester that I haven’t allowed myself any time to think about preparing for this trip and I don’t even know how to prepare for it. Yet, I don’t think there’s anything that I could be doing differently to prepare myself for this new experience. I’ve bought bug spray and hiking boots and all other things that Dr. Latham and previous Beyond Borders team members told me I might need. I’ve made my peace with the fact that creepy crawlers will be invading my personal space. I’ve made my peace with the fact that I will be physically exhausted at the end of each day. I still don’t feel prepared. But can you feel unprepared and ready at the same time? Do those two feelings cancel each other out? While I know that there are things that may happen that nobody was prepared for, I know I am ready to explore the unexpected.
I am full of anticipation for what’s to come, whatever that may be. I know that this trip will force me to do and feel things I’ve never had to before in a place I have never been around people I have never met. But the Beyond Borders mission, our mission, goes far beyond any hardships that I may personally experience along the way. No amount of nerves or anxiety that I may be having compares to what is experienced by individuals trying to find solace along the border. I speak of privilege, opportunity and support, but those words mean something completely different to someone trying to cross the border. This, I believe, will be my greatest challenge: trying to understand what migrants are going through in just 7 days. I know this won’t be possible, but this experience will have a huge impact on my life; I hope to take everything that I learn and relay it to those who are searching for more insight than what is shown on the news.
What I’m most looking forward to is getting to meet all of the amazing individuals who spend each and every day actively trying to help those in need in any way they can. I’ve heard so much about all of the people the Beyond Borders team encounters each trip and I can’t wait to have my own interactions with them. As Dr. Latham has said on many occasion, they can do this job without us but they still allow us to take part in their daily activities due to our common goal of providing aid to migrants along the border.
As I sit on my couch, I find myself contemplating how excited I am for this trip. It will be physically, emotionally and mentally draining, but I am ready. Unprepared, but ready.