As I am almost about to end as an intern with Frontera de Cristo, and become a 7th grade science teacher this has made me reflect on my life here in the communities of Douglas and Agua Prieta. The truth is that I could not come up with a more beautiful life than I have here in these communities. The opportunity of working and living in such a unique and beautiful bi-national community with such loving people is a blessing everyday in my life that makes me laugh, smile, love and feel the pain of this world. I remember when I first came to the Douglas and Agua Prieta on a border delegation it was both exciting and scary. I think for most people in the U.S. when they come to visit us at Frontera de Cristo these are common feelings. I have found that this feeling of fear that we have of the border and Mexico is misunderstanding that is reflected by what we here from the media, U.S. government and politicians. And while there are problems with insecurity and violence on the border, U.S., Mexico and the world that has created an immigration and refugee crisis in this would, our reaction to these problems should not be fear. I think that is why when groups and people come to visit us at FDC they have taken the most important step and that is not letting fear prevent them from building understanding about issues.
In general, I think most people are curious to understand, learn and love people who live and look different from us, but at the same time we are also afraid of people and places that are different from us. I had to make the conscious choice to come to live on the border and not let fear rule over me. But, instead pursue my curiosity to learn and better understand the issues, people and life on this border. However, it has been the curiosity of people and kids I work with in Agua Prieta and Douglas to learn what it means to love me that is making me stay. I think this is what makes working with the children at DouglaPrieta Trabaja (DPT) so special for me is their curiosity to love and learn from other people. I know many of my students were afraid of me as a white American, but their curiosity to love and learn about other people always seems to win out in them. Because of their curiosity to come to English classes and spend time with me they have deeply blessed and taught me a lot about their culture, difficulties and how to love people. And while I can say from my perspective and their perspective it has not always been easy doing English classes at DPT, their curiosity enabled us to have the opportunity to learn and understand each other better. And my students at DPT have taught me that when we let the curiosity to learn and understand more about people rule over fear this allows us to enter relationships that overtime break down the walls of racism, discrimination and stereotypes that we hide in our hearts.
Unfortunately, I think in the U.S. fear is ruling over the curiosity to learn and better understand people who are different from us. We are continually being bombarded by politicians, media and religious leaders with messages that portray poor people, black and Latino males in ghettos, Muslims and immigrants as people we should be afraid of. For example, when we saw the large number of kids and teenagers from Central America fleeing their countries to the U.S., many politicians, the media and religious leaders used the propaganda of fear to prevent us from better understanding and knowing these children who were fleeing from gang violence, gang killings and extreme poverty. I think this is why we encounter in the scriptures the message of fearing God, because if we don’t fear God we let fear that comes from people blind us from truly seeking God’s kingdom being manifested through people of different races, cultures, religions and nationalities coming together to fight injustices, racism and suffering in the world. So as I depart from the students I have worked with at DPT I will take away from them the practice of being curious enough to learn what it means to better understand and love people across our differences and similarities.