November has always been one of my favorite months. Fall, Thanksgiving and my birthday are always the events I look forward to the most for this month, however this November turned out to be like no other.
In the wake of the recent presidential election, I was struggling just to get by. As an Immigrant myself, I felt as if my heart completely shattered in an instant. To even think about what the future of this country held for my people, terrified me. Throughout that entire week, I felt nothing but defeated. I felt lost. I had so many encountered emotions that I didn’t know how to handle. In just one week, I had lost all motivation to continue fighting for my people, but then the De Colores came along.
De Colores is a service-immersion trip sponsored by campus ministry, in which small groups of students travel to Tijuana, Mexico for a weekend, where they familiarize themselves with the community of El Florido, learn and serve for and with the community. During the trip, the students participating leave behind their cell phones and comforts as they merge into the unfortunate reality that the lower-class people in Mexico experience every day. While there, students are able to work on a construction project, with the Build A Miracle Foundation and members of the community, as well spend time with migrants and learn about the immigration issues that are affecting these people.
I first heard about the De Colores trip, back when I was still a prospective student. Whenever LMU hosted events for the incoming freshmen, there was always a current student who would rave about their unbelievable experience in one of these trips. I heard this so often that I decided I had to see for myself and made it my goal to attend one of the trips this semester.
I have always had a passion for service. In High School, I created my own UNICEF club and fundraised over $2,000 for them. I always liked to say that I have a very informed background when it comes to foreign affairs, but this trip made me realize how much there still is to see and learn about.
There are usually four trips every semester (one per month), and I was determined to participate in one of them during my first semester, but almost every time, something came up that made it impossible for me to attend. November came, and I realized the last trip of the semester was coming up. In that very moment, I told myself I was not going to let this opportunity slip away.
Finally, November 18th came along, and we hit the road to Mexico. As soon as we got to Tijuana, it was all hands on. Each of us were working together along with the residents of the community of El Florido and the Build A Miracle workers, to lay the foundation of a local church that was burnt down. Though mixing cement doesn’t seem like a challenging task, it certainly becomes one when you are completely unfamiliar with construction. Nevertheless, we did our best and worked for hours alongside the community until the foundation was laid.
Once the dirty work was done, we headed to the Community Center where the residents of El Florido attend classes, workshops and more. There we got to eat with the community and spend time with the local youth. Some of us quickly got together for a game of soccer, while others spent time coloring with the younger kids, but one way or another, we were breaking through any barriers that were present.
After a fun and yet tiring day, it was time to head towards “Casa del Migrante” where we would be breaking bread with the immigrants who seek shelter at the migrant home. There, we got to hear the heart breaking stories of the immigrants who had nowhere else to go. The next morning, it was time to come back home, but there was one last stop we needed to make. The border. Visiting the border from both the Mexico and the U.S. side was by far the most touching moment of the trip. Witnessing the conditions under which separated families have to see their loved ones was simply devastating.
While the trip brought everyone’s emotions to float, it also served as a motivation to maintain the hope and continue our fight against injustice back home. This experience not only reassured the fighter in me to keep going, but it reminded me of the importance of unity during times of adversity too.
The staff members who supervised the trip, Patrick Visconti and Dino Entac, definitely made this trip unforgettable and I will always be thankful to them for allowing me to live this one-of-a-kind experience. We left LMU with so little, and came back with so much more. The friendships, knowledge and bonds that we gained during such short amount of time were priceless. The laughter, the tears and all the memories we made during that trip will forever remain in my heart. The De Colores trip is such a life-changing experience that everyone deserves to have. I encourage anyone and everyone who is interested in service to be part of one of these eye-opening adventures to see the world and experience its beauty first hand.