By Christopher Mai
Led by football coach Mr. Adam Gonzalez ‘03 and Theology teacher Mr. Jack Krouse, S.J., seniors Julio Alfaro, Edward Garcia, Crystian Rodríguez, Maximiliano Neblina, Jorge Ulloa, Alexander Goodman, Mario Cifuentes and junior Marco Sánchez will begin their five-day trip beginning today to provide humanitarian aid to the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and to learn about the immigrant experience in attempting to come to America.
The group will travel to Nogales, Ariz., a U.S.-Mexico border town where the Kino Border Initiative is located. The Jesuit organization strives for the development of a humane migration process between the United States and Mexico, with the goal of better understanding the immigrant experience while providing those in critical need with human health services. The group of students will be providing hygiene kits that consist of items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, combs, and sanitary wipes to immigrants in need.
Mr. Krouse, who has served at KBI as a part of his Jesuit formation, said that his participation in the program was a wonderful experience to offer a welcoming presence to the migrants who find a safe haven at Kino away from the great dangers they face on their journey toward a better life.
“The initiative in making this trip happen has been an inspiration and a testament to the generous spirit of so many Cubs here at Loyola,” Mr. Krouse said. “As with our other community service immersion opportunities, the goal of this trip will be to encounter the living Christ in those we meet and serve on the border, specifically, migrants who have journeyed North in search of safety from violence at home and a better life for their families,” Mr. Krouse said.
The students participating in the service immersion will be working with the recent immigrants, according to Director of Community Service Mr. Tom Zeko. He stressed the importance of the center as “it [KBI] puts faces on the issue of immigration.”
“There is a combination of listening, seeing, reflecting and sharing during the trip. They’re going to hear many stories about what’s happened to these good folks,” Mr. Zeko said. “The goal is to learn something, to have heart for something, and maybe identify something in the longer view where they can use their resources and influence and access to people to help create a remedy for this [migration].”
Senior Edward Garcia had a penchant for participating in the immersion project. He said, “I wanted to sign up for this trip because I come from a family of migrants, and I want to help people who were put in similar situations such as my family. I believe everyone needs at least the opportunity to have a caring soul for them.”
Junior Marco Sánchez looks ahead to helping those in need and developing a connection with the recently deported people. “To personalize the experience, we look forward to getting up close and personal with the people we will be helping and hearing their story of trying to find a better life,” Sánchez said.
“I’m going to get to meet different people and hear their stories,” Sánchez said. “I know lots of people have had a lot of struggles trying to get to the United States in hopes of having a better life.”
Theology teacher Dr. Jesse Rodriguez commented that the service component of the trip is critical, but he also analyzed the reasons as to why migration takes place and the ways to support immigration reform as well.
Dr. Rodriguez said, “The whole goal is to support the Kino Initiative through humanitarian aid but also to educate [the participants of KBI]on migration patterns, immigration reform, and all those issues that have impacted them.”
He also added, “For any students who join the Kino trip, it’s a chance to gain a better understanding of what migrants go through and, from the perspective of human dignity, to support the immigrant experience.”