We met at the airport at 4:30am to begin our trip. It was a long day with a few fun diversions along the way. We are busy preparing for an early start in the morning. Today is the coolest day of our trip with a high of 97 degrees. Stay tuned for more about our travel day tomorrow.
Less than a week already! I am so thankful to have been chosen to be on this team once again. In my last blog post, I wrote about leaving Texas feeling like I was leaving with unfinished business, and I have thought about that since that day. The work done by the UIndy Beyond Borders Team is something I am so grateful to be a part of, and I am very ready to get back to work.
My last pretrip post was more about packing and food and very superficial things, simply because I didn’t have the experience or knowledge to even want to speak on what the next week would entail. Now, I am honestly worried about much different things. Of course, I still worry about packing the right elements for this trip. Texas heat in May is not for the faint of heart. I’ve been a part of many band camps in the Louisiana heat, and I am still worried about the heat. I’ve been trying to recall any advice from old coaches of how to keep cool, how to best stay hydrated, and how to fight off the swarms of mosquitos. I have not forgotten the hazards of hidden cacti and everything being sharp, but my biggest worry is rooted in the emotional perils that come with this work.
In January, we mostly encountered evidence of people passing through the areas we were searching, whether that was as recent as the night before or as long ago as us finding fully rusted cans as the evidence. We do this work to try and bring closure to the families who may have lost someone on this dangerous journey. After the trip in January, I feel as though I am so much closer to this cause than ever before. It’s very easy when working to compartmentalize the emotional and harder parts of the job, but I know this trip will impact me harder than ever before. Being more knowledgeable of the humanitarian crisis occurring at the US-Mexico border makes every step you take to find someone’s loved ones, to give help to those in need, to educate your community mean so much more than it ever had before. The more I learn about it, whether that is through reading about it, hearing someone’s personal account, or talking to those also involved in this work, the more I feel motivated to do everything in my power to help those affected by this crisis.
I’m looking forward to seeing Eddie and Don and everyone else who we worked with previously. By the end of the trip, I considered everyone a friend on top of being a teacher, a leader, and some of the most amazing people I’d ever met. Our team this May is made up of Dr. Latham, myself, Olivia, Jordan, and Austin. I am excited to see how we grow over this trip not only as teammates but friends as well.
Preparing for the trip to the Texas/Mexico border has been exciting, it’s getting very close to time to go! The opportunity to attend this trip will cause many great changes, not only to me as a person but to the way I will strive to practice forensic anthropology in the future. The mission of this trip is important to me not only because I will be learning new techniques and applying those I already know to a different environment. But also because I feel strongly about the humanitarian crisis that we are able to lend some assistance to while in Texas. I feel like the ability to combine both forensic anthropology and humanitarian work in practice is very important for those in the field to experience and getting to do so as a student is invaluable.
I expect to face not only emotional challenges but physical ones as well. I am a bit nervous, as I have yet to experience anything like this before. I know that through the preparations I have done like speaking with those who have been on the trip before and reading many different materials related to the trip there is only so much I can gather. Experiencing it first-hand will be different but I believe that I have done what I can to be as prepared as possible. I believe the biggest physical challenge I will face will be the temperature. I am not often in environments where the temperature is as high as it is predicted to be in Falfurrias while we are there (high of 104!). This will be a challenge but I believe I am well prepared to face it.
I am excited to work with the current team for this trip! I have had the ability to work with each person in class or while doing casework on campus but I am interested to see how we grow and work together in this new situation. It may be a bit of a challenge at first to adjust to the new situation but I think that we will all work well together and accomplish what we have set out to do. I have heard many amazing things about Eddie and Don who will be showing us the ropes while in Texas and I am very excited to meet and work with them as well!
Although there may be challenges I will face while in Texas it is nothing compared to what the migrants are being forced to face. I am happy to face them if it means I am able to help in any way. The experiences I will have and the memories I will make will stay with me forever and I am very grateful for that.