On the night of the 2016 election, I sat glued to my television, watching the Presidential returns come in. As the night wore on and Donald Trump’s lead grew, my heart sank.
That’s when my phone began dinging.
I received text after text from the high school students I pastor who had participated in the Global Immersion Project’s Immigrant’s Journey Learning Lab last summer in San Diego and Tijuana.
Are you watching?
I can’t believe this is happening.
I’m sitting here in tears.
What’s going to happen to all our immigrant friends?
Ever since last summer’s trip, my students and I have been engaging in these kinds of conversations, wrestling with what it means to be Everyday Peacemakers in a country that seems to be growing more and more divided.
For my students who participated in the Learning Lab, this election was not about statistics. It wasn’t about faceless Mexicans invading our country.
It was about their friends.
It was about Noemi, a woman they met who’d come illegally as a child, brought to the United States by her parents. She’d grown up American, her illegal status unknown to her until she applied for college and realized she couldn’t go. She explained to our team about what it was like to apply for and receive DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She also shared her fears that if Trump was elected, her legal status would be revoked. Afterward, one of our curators shared how for her, elections sometimes feel frustrating and inconvenient. But for so many people, they’re a matter of life and death.
That comment stuck with my students.
This year as they’ve navigated an election in which “The Wall” was often talked about and frequently debated, they told the stories they learned and witnessed while on their learning lab. They posted pictures of the wall on social media with captions countering the belief that our borders are “open”.