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In trip to Mexico border, students learn, first hand, about migrants' struggles

October 31, 2016

In mid-October, three Ursuline students traveled with Sister Diane Therese Pinchot, OSU, to the border towns of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico for workshops, a vigil and demonstrations for social justice with Cleveland’s Inter Religious Task Force on Central America.

"I am beyond grateful that I was able to take this trip. It was truly life changing," said senior Kaye Sandoval. A double major in studio art and art therapy, Sandoval joined Sister Diane, senior studio art major Sara Enlow, senior art therapy major and pre-med student Jake Loughner, and about 1,000 other peaceful demonstrators for six eye-opening days on the U.S-Mexico border.

"It was a great experience for everyone and showed us, first hand, what is happening on the border with the migrants who are having an extremely difficult time as they flee the violence and poverty that surrounds them in their own countries,” said Sr. Diane.

Workshops were held on both sides of the border. One was held in El Comedor in Nogales, Mexico, the place that Pope Francis visited when he was in United States last year and wanted to speak about those trying to cross the border.

The gathering was organized by many local organizations and SOA Watch, an organization that has protested annually for 27 years at the Georgia headquarters of the School of the Americas, a U.S. Defense Department school training Latin American soldiers, including three of the Salvadoran National Guardsmen convicted of killing Cleveland Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and three other U.S. churchwomen in 1980 when they were serving the poor in El Salvador. The School of the Americas changed its name in 2000 to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

This year, instead of protesting in Georgia, SOA Watch and the Cleveland Inter Religious Task Force on Central America along with many other organizations amassed at the border to draw attention to the difficulties faced by migrants there.

"Our students were changed,” Sr. Diane said. “They see the plight of the poor and marginalized in a new way."

"My biggest take away is how vital it is to use our values, voice and vision not only to help ourselves grow, but to help the world grow into a place where everyone is able to have a voice and vision that is recognized and respected by others," said Sandoval.

Sr. Diane, who chairs the Studio Art Department, is heartened that all three students want to find ways to work for justice. “God’s in play here,” she said. “The whole reason for the Art Department is art and advocacy. Our whole educational piece is around advocacy. It’s bigger than us; it’s for the voiceless.”

Above: Sara Enlow is on the inside of this giant puppet while Jake Loughner and Kay Sandoval control the arms, waiting to take part in a performance at the Wall of the Border. The figure they are working is the “Woman of Hope in the Desert” that the migrant sees as Our Lady.





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