- Unitarian Universalism Connection
Last spring, the youth of the First Religious Society were asked to choose a justice learning trip for the 2016-17 church year. They ultimately chose to take a trip to the US-Mexico border to learn about immigration justice, a topic that has become even more timely in recent months with political rhetoric about building a new border wall reaching fever pitch.
The ten youth participating are engaged in a program that spans the church year, culminating in their trip to Tucson and Mexico. Throughout the year, they’re engaging in community building, fundraising, and consciousness-raising. They’re participating in activities about privilege and power and reflecting on their own identities. They’re learning about some of the causes of mass immigration as well as itseffects, and have watched and discussed two documentaries—“Who Is Dayani Cristal?” and “Harvest of Empire”. Later this spring, they will be engaging in an immigration simulation with other members of our congregation, which will be an experiential activity to help them further understand the causes and effects of immigration from Latin America.
We are partnering with the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice and Borderlinks for the trip and will be meeting with organizations and individuals on both sides of the border. Though we won’t know our itinerary for certain until shortly before our trip, the UUCSJ provides this description: Speaking broadly, a 5 day trip would include some combination of the following: a walk in the desert with a humanitarian aid organization (No More Deaths or Tucson Samaritans); at least one day in Mexico with organizations that provide direct services to people who have been deported; the option of 1-night in Mexico; interactive workshops to understand NAFTA and the roots of migration; a visit to immigration court and “Operation Streamline”; and presentations from various groups organizing for immigrant rights in Tucson, such as Corazon de Tucson (undocumented immigrants organizing in their community), Mariposas sin Fronteras (an LGBT asylum-seeker support project), the Southside Workers Center (a day laborer organization), and others. We like to also include some short trainings on popular education models and organizing skills, as part of thinking through what the group can do when they return home. UUCSJ program leaders also integrate reflection sessions and spiritual grounding practices into the program.
Our participants will return home with a much greater understanding of immigration justice issues and will be equipped to be advocates for just immigration reforms. So that this trip is accessible to all, regardless of a family’s financial status, we are doing a significant amount of fundraising. We’ve held a trivia night for congregation members and have a bake-off event planned, as well as a waffle breakfast and a fund drive. Our total fundraising goal is just over $9000. Because this is a lot of money for ten youth to earn over the course of a church year, we are hopeful that our Faithify goal will be met and possibly even surpassed. Thank you to all for your support!