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Service-Learning Trip to Mexico-Arizona Border with Sister Belinda Monahan, OSB

From December 14-21, Sister Belinda Monahan, OSB, will accompany seven students from Northwestern University's, Sheil Catholic Center, to the Mexico-Arizona border for a service-learning trip. With Fr. Kevin Feeney and Tim Higgins, Sister Belinda and the students will share experiences with those in need and those who serve them at the border.

Day 1 Photos and quote from Sister Belinda:

"On our first day, many connections and many separations. We crossed the border from Naco Arizona into Naco Sonora for mass and met with a woman who was just returned to her family in Mexico after several months in detention for requesting asylum in the United States. The wall which stretches as far as we can see seems to be designed to discourage people from even making the attempt. But I did meet a Sister of St Agnes who used to teach at our high school!"

Sister of St. Agnes, Christi Ann Laudolff, CSA taught at our St. Scholastica High School from Fall of 1990-Spring of 1995 in the science department.

Day 2 Photos and quote from Sister Belinda:

"We visited crosses marking the sites where known deaths have occurred in the desert and mourned the losses of all the unknown border crossers. We made a short trek of our own through the desert and in the afternoon drove to Tucson for a rally against bussing those waiting asylum to Juarez. #unintendedties"

Day 3 Photos and update from Sister Belinda:

"We spent most of the day in Agua Prieta today, visiting the migrant resource center, the shelter a men’s cooperative carpentry center, a women’s coop and a coffee coop. It is humbling to listen to the stories of the people who are in many different stages on their journey. Ended the day with a binational posada.

A few more thoughts about yesterday: we spoke with a young man and his wife--they're next in line to seek asylum and they're living in a tent along the wall so they don't miss their chance when it comes. It was COLD yesterday (below freezing in Bisbee, maybe mid-thirties in Agua Preita), they had come from Cuba and crossed twelve borders to get where they were. And they were amazingly hopeful. The number of people who have hope in what seem like pretty dire situations is humbling. I am also awed by the people who were in such dire situations not too long ago and now that they've got something they want to give back. A man who works as a carpenter in the men's coop gets up every morning to cook breakfast for the migrant shelter (about 50 people) because the shelter was there when he needed it. The women at the coop who give cloth bags away (in exchange for food donations--although they'd just as soon do it without the donations) because the coop has given her so much. Almost everyone we have met has been amazingly generous and hopeful in situations that I think would make me want to give up."

Day 4 Photos and update from Sister Belinda:

"We spent today learning a bit more about the legal aspects of immigration at the Mexican consulate and hearing more stories from people who have spent their lives on either side of the border (in several cases crossing the border as a thing of little consequence) and what that has meant to them. Grateful to hear all of these stories. Grateful, too, to be here with this group of amazing Sheil students who have shared openly about how these stories have affected them and their hopes and plans to take what they have learned here as we head back home soon."

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