Alternative Spring Break - On the Mexico Border
Spring break for college students is often a time to head to the beach, or relax. However, I decided to spend my vacation differently.
Each year, USF's Bulls Service Breaks sends students on various trips with the intent of raising social awareness--public health, gang prevention and immigration to name a few.
I went on the immigration trip.
Our group (11 of us) went to McAllen, Texas--a border town.
We visited the border wall--a towering, spiked metal fence. A Border Patrol pick-up truck, sat idle in front of it.
Many students were motivated to go on this trip because their family immigrated to America.
Ilda Martinez is one of those students. She said half of her family is from Mexico, and to her the fence symbolized separation.
"Just that one wall can keep you away from your family," she said.
We visited a few colonias--unregulated neighborhoods with dilapidated homes, inadequate access to utilities and lots of dogs.
It was in a colonia that we met the Lechugas, an elderly couple. Both were born in Mexico.
They live in a trailer. Rusted furniture litters the front yard; the walls and floor are mere plywood; the rafters of the ceiling are exposed, and so is the insulation.
Mr. Lechuga told us a story about having to sell rocks at a flea market. He needed the money to pay the fees for immigration documentation, he said.
Mrs. Lechuga serenaded us by singing a song she composed. It's about a sick dog that died in her care.
Most of our time was spent with La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), which translates to: The Union of the Entire Town. It was founded by Cesar Chavez.
Each day, members of LUPE gather around and sing a hymn, Pueblo Libre (Free People)--about walking, boldly along the waters of life.
Quincy Walters is an intern at WUSF. He's currently a junior majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing at the University of South Florida.