Borderlinks Trip to Nogales

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Julie Griffith's Trip to Nogales           

I loved the ladies in the colonia that fed us lunch.  Their whole demeanor was basically one of happiness, even though they expressed strong beliefs about the negative impact of the maquiladoras controlling the city.  They also expressed strong views, both ways, about moving permanently to the United States if they had the opportunity to do so.  This reminded me of the opposing views that the sisters Finau and Palu (Emma) held about staying and leaving, respectively, Tonga in the book Voyages.  For the ladies in Mexico, two answered a definite yes and one a definite no about moving to America.  The answer that I found most interesting was the adamant no, because it was attached to a strong belief that if she lived in the U.S. there would be a definite loss of freedom.  She said that if she moved to America she would only be able to work and then go back in her house.  There would be no freedom to come and go as she pleased, which was a major criteria for her to be happy in her daily life.  This once again reminded me of the Voyages book, because in the stories we saw how the immigrants kept close contact not only with their relatives back in Tonga, but they formed closed communities with other Tongan immigrants living around them.  In this way I think they kept their culture alive, but also retained a sense of freedom by living their lives the way that they were used to.  I think the same is true for other immigrants.  They are able to form bonds with other people that speak the same language and hold the same beliefs while assimilating to their surroundings.  For the lady in Nogales, her view about a loss of freedom, I feel, reflects one of the many misconceptions that we perpetuate in both cultures.  We have a preconceived set of ideas about other cultures that are exploited by the media and by our own limited exposure to those other cultures.  Most people seem to be afraid to find out for themselves if things really are the way they are portrayed or if it is a myth.  I really admire the people that are willing to open themselves up and experience new views in hopes of a better understanding.  That is why I think this trip was so important.  It gave us a small insight into other human beings’ lives to see for ourselves that we are all just people trying to live and be happy.


This is a picture of the ladies who fed us lunch in Nogales

            The other thing that I pondered for awhile after leaving Nogales was the physical possessions that the people of the colonias have.  The average, even low income, American would not feel that their basic necessities were being met in the squatter settlement that we visited.  But when you look at what these people have not only are their basic necessities taken care of, but they have some things that I’m sure are considered luxuries.  Americans would not even think about whether or not their home should have straight, sheet-rocked walls.  We automatically expect our walls, cabinets, and windows to be straight, painted, and properly placed.  This would be considered a necessity, but these things are a luxury that we take for granted.  Some of the homes in the colonia did not even have indoor toilets and had only gotten electricity a year ago.  The house I ate lunch in did not have any indoor plumbing, or a black water storage tank on the roof.  It was not that long ago in this country that indoor plumbing was a luxury yet we look down our noses at the same situation in others.  I think we have become so obsessed with the accumulation of possessions that we not only want a lot of things, but we expect them as a matter of necessity.  In the article from Borderlinks entitled “We Are Not Machines: Corporations that bring jobs must bring justice too,” the ladies working in the maquiladora were fighting for real necessities.  They weren’t forming unions so they could acquire more luxuries.  They were fighting for their basic human rights, and to be treated decently.  They weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom, or to have breaks at reasonable intervals in their all too long work day.  They were also fighting the affects of constant exposure to the chemical waste created by the unregulated factories.  This also ties in with the work that the Border Action Network is trying to do.  There should be a basic decency shown to ever other human being so we can all be healthy (in every way) and happy.  But this is not the case in border towns like Nogales, and in so many other areas of the world.  If we personally, or any of our loved ones, were being treated this badly we would do something.  Why can’t we do the same for our fellow human?

This is me eating Molé (a meat dish with unsweetened chocolate)


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