A rookie’s thoughts:

It feels unreal that our trip is taking place tomorrow, and that I am actually a part of the team! I have been reading and following the humanitarian crisis seen within the borderlands for quite a while and cannot believe I will be experiencing it first hand.  This trip brings a whirlwind of emotions, mostly consisting of excitement and nervousness. I think it is because of the uncertainty of what to expect, I know being there will be different than anything I can possibly imagine. My motivation to be a part of this effort stems from the fact that I grew up listening to my parents own migration stories from El Salvador and Mexico to the United States of America. My mother made the journey to flee violence from her home country and my father came in search for better opportunities. That is why I am looking forward to partnering with organizations such as the South Texas Human Rights Center (S.T.H.R.C), who holds a mission that advocates for migrant rights as human rights. Our Beyond Borders team will aid the S.T.H.R.C. in rebuilding and replenishing water stations so that individuals with similar reasons for making the journey have water available to them.  I look forward to working alongside passionate individuals such as Sheriff Deputy Don White, who volunteers his time and money to conduct searches and recoveries of distressed migrants. I am looking forward to interacting with community members that are impacted by this crisis every single day and just listening to their stories.

Right now, I am currently sitting in my hometown, contemplating the biggest challenges I will face during our trip to Falfurrias, Texas. The most obvious challenge is the physical toll this trip will have,  it involves walking 10+ miles in desert terrain for five consecutive days. There is no way to prepare for the dangers I may encounter while out there, things like dehydration, snakes, thorny bushes, etc. Another challenge will be the emotional toll this trip will bring.  Walking along the same trails that migrants have succumbed to will be hard.  Encountering individuals that do not believe our volunteer work is beneficial, is another challenge I keep in the back of my mind. We are currently in an era where immigration is a topic that comes with heated debate. It is challenging to think that there are people out there that believe humanitarian aid is a crime.

This trip will impact me in many ways, I will be gaining first hand experience on how to conduct meticulous search and recoveries, an important tool to have as an aspiring forensic anthropologist. I am hoping that being in the field will spark future research ideas, as I want to be able to help expand and refine current methods that aid with the identification of deceased migrants. I want to be a part of the effort responsible for repatriating missing loved ones to their homes and families. I believe that being a part of this trip will be a step stone in that direction.