It’s hard to believe that I’m home after eight of the most thrilling, frustrating, overwhelming, incredible weeks of my life. I’m already missing Tucson and my daily routine – working to aid the immigrants in the community through Derechos Humanos, researching policy for the promotoras, living sustainably at Borderlinks, looking out any window to see the mountains meet the desert under the most vibrant skies. When doing laundry today, I missed walking behind Borderlinks to put my clothes on the line, finding them completely crisp and dry before I even finished putting them up courtesy of the sweltering Arizona sun. Drinking out of glasses and mugs seems wrong after using recycled jars as cups all summer, and I continue to look for the compost bowl in which I’ve become so accustomed to placing overripe fruit or other compostable trash which would later fertilize the lovely little garden out back. I gained a lot out of my summer in Tucson, and while I can talk endlessly about the policies I encountered and the immigration issues to which my eyes were opened, a lot of what I gained was knowledge about living green – practices I can apply immediately at home or at school.
Too often, I try to prioritize what big looming issues I should focus on next, but living and working in Tucson showed me how interconnected so many issues are. During our summer of sustainable living we strived to get organic foods at the grocery store, which was not only healthier for us but also more beneficial to the local farmers who stocked the Sunflower market where we shopped, many of whom are migrants seeking opportunities in the U.S. There’s really no reason why my interest in advocating for immigrant rights should prevent me from caring about the environment, world poverty, healthcare or any of the other problems that inevitably exist in the world, especially after realizing that these issues overlap in so many places.
Though my journey in Tucson has ended, I won’t be quick to forget all the wonderful people I met and eye-opening experiences I had this summer. I’m so grateful to Borderlinks and DukeEngage for an amazing summer filled with life lessons I never thought I would experience while traveling within the United States. I don’t plan to ever again take for granted all the rights and privileges that come with being a U.S. citizen after meeting several hard-working, fantastic people who shouldn’t be denied the same rights, especially on the basis of racial discrimination. Though my next big adventure will be in Europe next fall, I hope to take with me all that I learned this summer and one day revisit the issue of immigration at the heart, in the borderlands.