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My work with Al Otro lado


In August of 2019 I went to Tijuana and Volunteered with an organisation called ‘Al Otro Lado’. This journey was far removed from the normal trappings of a highschool service trip. Instead of months of preparation followed by a highly regimented and controlled experience where you are at all times surrounded by dozens of other students, teaches, and guides, this trip was incredibly improvised. My mom and I decided to volunteer with this organization because a immigration lawyer who gave a talk at my moms school discussed her experiences as a lawyer helping, and really displayed an awareness that made it clear that this wasn't vollun-tourism. I was shocked when I learned that I could go, in my head it was confounding that a highschool senior could really help those who are seeking asylum in a legal clinic in mexico, when I don't even speak spanish. Yet the experience was incredibly moving. Between helping to back up documents which having copies of could mean life or death for the wonderful people I was meeting every day, and playing in the children's areas with kids who were simply enjoying themselves and playing with toys for very possibly the only time since they were forced to flee their home, I was always busy with meaningful work. One volunteer I worked with had a hypothesis for why working for Al Otro Lado was so meaningful, she said “Al Otro Lado doesn't have the time, resources, or manpower have the few people they do have do things which aren't important.” That explanation felt incredibly true and still resonates with me today. I will always remember the people I met and the hardship they suffered, as this experience turned an issue which I had once viewed with a cold detachment into one which is utterly impossible for me to abandon. 

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