After an exhausting week, a trip to White Sands National Park was exactly what we needed to recoup. We left early in the morning with a group from Augustana University and drove for about an hour before arriving at the park. We passed through a citizenship checkpoint on the way. When we arrived at the park, we stopped at the gift shop to pick up some sleds to ride down the sand dunes. The weather was perfect; not too hot or too cold. The sand was so bright that even with clouds some of us still wore sunglasses. Hiking up sand dunes was extremely difficult. In contrast to the sand we had all experienced at the beach, this sand was cooler and covered a much greater area. Spending the morning outside and sledding with the other students was a refreshing change.
When we returned to the church after visiting the national park, Crystal Massey, the volunteer coordinator of the American Immigration Council in Washington D.C, presented to several groups participating in the border immersion. She talked about what the American Immigration Council does, shared some personal stories, and the process of seeking asylum. She was knowledgeable about current immigration issues. Her presentation helped piece together the information we learned throughout the week and furthered our understanding about immigration from countries other than Mexico.
Sylvia then took us on a guided driving tour through the Stahmann Pecan Farms. She shared her experiences living on the world’s largest pecan farm in the U.S. We learned that the original farm had its own bank, grocery store, hospital, gas station, and even an airport. Driving through, the rows of pecan trees seemed endless. We were surprised to see that the pecans grew on trees.
Our next stop after the farm tour was a small town called Mesilla. It was originally a part of Mexico and it holds a lot of its heritage. Many of the original shops, restaurants, and roads were still there.
After a busy day, we stopped by a local Thai restaurant to get bubble tea. We’d been planning to get it since we drove past the restaurant on our first day in Las Cruces. A few of us had never tried it before, but we all enjoyed it. So far, we have all been learning lots and felt immersed in the city and the culture. We are looking forward to sharing more of our stories from the trip when we return this weekend!
Jamie and Titus – Student Team Leaders