Footprints in the Sand, Grass, and Dirt

Being back home is great but weird. I love being back with my dog and in my own bed, but I wish I was still in Texas. Being in Falfurrias, I felt like I had a purpose every day. I woke up with a goal and pushed myself mentally, physically, and emotionally to try to achieve that goal. Back in Indy, I haven’t had the same feelings. The sense of community in Falfurrias is peaceful and close-knit, whereas it’s very easy to get lost in the hubbub of everyday life in a city as big as Indianapolis.

Beyond Borders May 2022 Team at the border wall
Beyond Borders May 2022 Team at the border wall

Even though this was my second trip with the Beyond Borders team, I still learned and grew so much over the week. I learned more about myself and what I want to devote my life to. I learned how I can push past physical and mental barriers. I learned a lot about my teammates and formed lifelong memories and stronger friendships. I grew as an individual. My perspective on the world has changed yet again. I want to work towards a future where people can live in peace and be reunited with their loved ones, and I want to help as many people as possible.

Two team members in the brush
Me and Jordan

Being in classes and on campus every day, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. We tend to get so caught up in our own lives that we don’t always realize the privilege we have. I have a home to go back to, food to eat, and the ability to further my education. Unfortunately, this is not true for so many people in the world. I know that a world without conflict will never happen, but I wish innocent lives were not being dragged into disagreements between the more privileged. Everyone should feel safe in their home, not be forced to risk their lives in order to survive.

Don and Ray take a break
Don and Ray

I wish we lived in a world where the Beyond Borders team didn’t need to exist, and that people like Don, Eddie, and the Remote Wildlands Search and Recovery Team didn’t have to do the work that they do. But, seeing the passion they have for what they do gives me hope that there are more people like them out there, and it is only a matter of time until their voices are heard. Working with Don and Ray on this trip was amazing. They have so much knowledge that they are more than willing to share, and they are truly inspirational individuals. I wish we had gotten to work with Eddie, too, but hopefully, the future Beyond Borders teams will get to catch up with him and everything he does.

Don searching in the brush
Don doing some Don stuff

I wouldn’t have changed anything about this trip. The team was amazing, and we’ve formed a bond that cannot be broken. Being with people you can have fun with is great, but it’s the ones you can show vulnerability in front of that really matter, and that’s what we found on this trip. No one likes to be weak, but with a team of strong individuals behind you, anything is possible. I’m excited to see where the future takes my fellow teammates, as I know they will go on to do amazing things.

I am forever grateful to Dr. Latham for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of the Beyond Borders team. The memories I make, experiences I have, and knowledge I gain with the team will stay with me for a lifetime. I hope I will get to see Don, Ray, Eddie, and the rest of the guys on the Remote Wildlands Search and Recovery Team in the future. I know I will follow along with them as they continue with the incredible work that they do.

Group photo of three beyond Borders May 2022 team members
One of my favorite photos
Beyond Borders May 2022 Group photo
The team before our very first search day. Still bright-eyed and full of energy

~ Olivia