During Spring Break 2019, a group of Fordham faculty participated in an immersion program at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona/Nogales, Sonora. The program was designed to deepen faculty engagement with Fordham’s mission and to foster understanding of and solidarity with marginalized people. The aim was for participants to gain an enhanced critical perspective on the complex challenges related to migration at the U.S-Mexico border and the global crisis of migrants and refugees today. The program is part of a two-year pilot faculty development initiative, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Mission Integration and Planning, which also includes an array of topical seminars and retreats for faculty.
We were based in a hotel on the Arizona side of the border. Most mornings, we served migrants and deportees at a cafeteria on the Sonora side of the border, and took every opportunity we could to hear their first-hand stories. We learned about migration from multiple perspectives, including from officials at U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Immigration Court, as well as from social service providers and legal advocates for migrants. One morning, we hiked through an area of the desert frequently traveled by migrants. Each evening, we got together as a group to reflect and discussed the day’s activities.Our host was the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a binational organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus, which provides humanitarian assistance to migrants and offers educational programming for scholars and others interested in learning about local, regional, and national immigration policies.
Posts in this blog include a more detailed, day-by-day account of what we did on the border. Over time, many of the participants will share stories we heard from migrants and others, as well as our individual reflections on the experience. We very much plan to build on our time in Nogales, to make the experience the ten of us had into something that affects many more people at Fordham and beyond.