Day 1: Getting into the Swing of Things

At 7:45am, we all met in the lobby of the Best Western to start our day. In our matching UIndy Human Identification Center t-shirts we munched on bagels, sausage, pancakes, and fruit. We washed down our breakfast with Emergen-C to help ward off any illness during our trip. Then, we departed for the South Texas Human Rights Center.

Upon arriving at the South Texas Human Rights Center, we were greeted by Selena and Arianna, two passionate members of the human rights community. After Brooks County Deputy Sheriff Don White joined us and introductions were made, we began loading the center’s truck with 55 gallon barrels, water jugs, and tools we might need to repair water stations already in the field. We then divided up into our rental van and center’s truck and started off to the route we were scheduled to repair and fill.

On the side of this particular rural highway the South Texas Human Rights Center has installed 55 gallon blue barrels filled with water jugs and water bottles. The large barrels are labeled “Agua” and marked by tall flagpoles that help to highlight the barrels among the brush. Our task today was to refill and service the water stations along this highway and neighboring roadways. After a few stations everyone got into the groove of things. Sidney took notes about the condition of the barrels and how much water was in each container. Holley made sure each barrel’s lid was labeled with the station’s GPS coordinates and the phone number for the South Texas Human Rights Center. Alba and I worked to drill holes into the barrels and secure each barrel to a metal post with clamps. Everyone assisted with removing spoiled water from the barrels and placing new water jugs into the stations. All in all, our team repaired and refilled 14 water stations today!

Team members repairing a water station

A team member and Deputy Don White repairing a water station

Our day was filled with many firsts for everyone. For Holley, Alba, and myself today was the first time we had all worked to fix water stations. Even Dr. Latham (who has been bringing students down to Texas for years) enjoyed a few firsts including trying a new restaurant, The Burger Barn, and getting pulled over by Border Patrol for suspected human smuggling as we were frequently pulling over on the side of the highway.

Overall, today was a good way to start off our trip. I feel that I gained skills, like how to tighten a metal clamp, but I also learned a lot about the connections the members of this community have. I believe these skills and this knowledge has provided me with a good base so I can assist in any way I’m needed and from which I can continue to learn about the issues important to this community.

Day 1 group photo
Day 1