This field season in Texas will be my last adventure as a UINDY graduate student. I have had the honor of working on this project since the beginning, but I will be graduating in May and (hopefully) moving onto a PhD program. It is impossible to explain how much this project has meant to me, and I am not eloquent, but I can try to distill some of the feelings into a handful of words.
Gratitude – I feel privileged to have been selected for this project. Each field season only allows a few of us Greyhounds the chance to travel to Texas, so I feel honored to have played my part for so long. I believe that I have represented our University in our motto of “Education for Service”. I am grateful for all the amazing people I’ve met, the knowledge I’ve gained, and the person I’ve become because of this work.
Pride – I am incredibly proud of the work that has been done by EVERYONE involved in this project. What we have collectively done so far is amazing. The primary purpose of this work is the identification and repatriation of unidentified border crossers. Collectively, we have identified ~20 individuals, and we are still in the processes of identifying well over 100 more. I look forward to every future identification that our efforts will bring.
Community – This has been one of the most unexpected outcomes of this project. I never imagined that our field work would make us honorary members of the Falfurrias community. This work has given us a chance to work throughout Brooks county. Besides excavations, we have dined with ranchers and constables, given lectures at border patrol, and built and filled water stations. Nearly every day we worked this season, people stopped by the cemetery to thank us for our efforts. It is powerful knowing that the community advocates our work. Fal has become a sort-of second home, and I cannot think of another community of which I’d rather be a part.
Closure – This work never ends. As long as there are deaths along the border there is still more work to do. We have nearly completed all excavations at Sacred Heart Burial Park, but that is only one cemetery in one county. Texas is massive. There are many more counties holding many more cemeteries. Without the proper attention, the unidentified people buried in these areas hold no hope of being returned to their families. This work must continue…
And yet, the end of this season brings me a sense of closure. I am incredibly proud of the caliber of work that we have done in Falfurrias. All the people who have worked on this project have started something amazing, and the efforts will continue even after I leave UINDY, and I know that this endeavor is in capable hands. I leave happy knowing that I have worked to the best of my abilities. My efforts have helped people be identified and families be reunited. I will always continue to advocate for human rights in every venue, but I am sated knowing that I have done my part.
Hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo, te dejo mi corazón. Gracias por todo.