Each fall, Sandia Prep students in Claudio Pérez’ Spanish 5A Border Studies class, “The Neglect of Women Workers and the New Era of Hope,” travel to the El Paso-Juárez border. They come for a day-long immersion education program that acquaints them with the various issues surrounding immigration and border relations.
The students speak and interact with Mexican residents through “the fence,” meet with members of the Border Patrol, and spend time with others who have immigrated to El Paso. “The one thing I want them to know,” says Sr. Pérez, “is that there are other people out there. I want them to be able to put a face to the issues we’re studying. The idea is to demonstrate the different perspectives of high school students living along political and symbolic present-day borders.”
The field trip is the culmination of a mixed media art project he created called Border-Doors, which asks students to explore issues connected to family, race, religion, politics, social justice and discrimination, both in Mexico and the United States. This year, eight doors became the canvas for students to express their thoughts. Some used paint; others wrote poetry, attached pictures from their trip, or used images found online that were relevant to their topic. The word spread: Border-Doors will soon be on exhibit on the campus of the University of New Mexico.
Cali Crum, a 2014 participant, says the border trip “opened our eyes to the reality of the struggle and inspired us to desire to take action.”