This program is organized by BorderLinks in collaboration with DukeEngage.
May 29 - July 28
Partnering with community service organizations focused on immigration and border issues.
Immigration is one of the largest domestic challenges facing both the United States and Mexico today. People die nearly every week attempting to cross the border. Under a faltering economy, hostilities against immigrants in the U.S. have been growing in every state across the nation, including, to a large extent, in North Carolina. In 2010, Arizona came under international scrutiny with the passage of one of the toughest immigration laws in U.S. history. Local, state, and international relations are strained over this issue. Families and individuals are affected by the policies and practices of immigration enforcement.
Led this summer by BorderLinks, a well-respected bi-national organization with a 20+ year history of educating around global political economics, this program has grown from an active collaboration between BorderLinks and the following Duke-affiliated units: the Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, the Center for Documentary Studies, and Student Action with Farmworkers. Students accepted into the program will spend the summer learning about the US/Mexico border, with a focus on national security, human rights, and comprehensive immigration reform. Students will also have opportunities to connect these experiences in the border region to realities in North Carolina. Tangible outcomes of this project will likely include documentary projects that students will share through exhibits, forums, class presentations, independent studies and thesis projects.
The first important group activity will be a two-day preparation workshop led by Student Action with Farmworkers, taking place during the spring semester. This workshop will include a labor camp visit, meetings with farmworkers and immigrant organizations, campus organizing workshops, documentary presentations, and evaluations/final debriefings. All students accepted into the program will be required to attend this training.
For the eight-week program, the first few days will be spent in Tucson with BorderLinks. Students will participate in orientation activities to prepare for working in the context of this community and the dynamics of group living. The next several days will be spent on an educational travel seminar throughout the border region of Southern Arizona, under the leadership of BorderLinks’ bi-national staff. Participants will meet with activists, policy makers, academics, and local residents, including recent immigrants to discuss the issues at hand. The next six weeks will be spent in Tucson, AZ with each participant working directly with a community service organization by day and coming together for weekly dinners, reflections, and documentary work at the BorderLinks headquarters. Students will spend part of this 6 weeks living on site at the BorderLinks headquarters (in the dormitory) and part of the 6 weeks living with Spanish-speaking host families in Tucson. While some weekend time will be free, students will also have the opportunity to participate in some weekend group trips to the border region and/or surrounding areas.
Volunteer opportunities will range from working with immigrants, day laborers, and homeless people to organizing “know your rights” clinics and participating in research related to immigration, to assisting with community action/interaction and publicity efforts. We plan to continue to placing students with some of the organizations that students have enjoyed and contributed to in years past, including Border Action Network, Humane Borders, Southside Presbyterian Church and Day Labor Center (religious affinity not required for this placement). All students will also have additional service opportunities such as the service project during the educational delegation, a weekend visit and patrol on the US-Mexico border desert, and various one-time efforts such as assisting at a community soup kitchen.
Language/Other Prerequisites: While working knowledge of Spanish is very helpful, it is not required for this program. Student participants with no Spanish language ability have proven as successful and satisfied with the program as those who are fluent in the language. Opportunities will be provided for each student to learn and improve their Spanish-speaking ability, with the expectation that all students with no or little Spanish ability will take advantage of these lessons. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in courses related to the program themes prior to and/or after the summer program. We have found that the classroom connection and knowledge gained enhances the summer experience dramatically. Suggestions include Latino/a Studies courses, Documentary Studies courses, and Spanish Service Learning courses (see “Resources” section for links).
Reflection Sessions: The BorderLinks staff will lead regular reflection sessions in which students will be expected to actively participate. Students will have the opportunity to share in leading these reflection sessions. A variety of reflection formats may be pursued, including discussion based on readings (a number of brief articles and two books) and journaling. In addition to regular reflection sessions, students will be expected to journal and post selections frequently on the program blog.
Neighborhood: Throughout the duration of the program, students will be within close contact of the BorderLinks staff. During the time on the Southern Arizona travel seminar, students will stay in churches or with homestay families. The group will travel together as a unit with staff, and students will always be in pairs or groups during homestay components of the travel as well. Outside of travel time (in Southern AZ during the delegation), the majority of the 8 weeks will be spent in Tucson, with students living part of the time with Spanish-speaking host families, and part of the time in the BorderLinks dormitory. Most of the homestay placements will be in the southern part of Tucson in predominantly Latino neighborhoods. The BorderLinks headquarters (including dormitory) is located in downtown Tucson, and is within walking distance of the downtown area, public transportation, restaurants, coffee shops, a laundry mat, grocery stores, the library, and most of the placement sites. Students will be advised to travel in pairs or groups, particularly after dark.
Housing and Accommodations: During the pre-departure workshop led by SAF in the spring semester, students will be accommodated on campus and meals will be provided. During the Southern Arizona travel seminar, students will be housed with homestay families in Nogales, Arizona or in churches or community centers in other areas. Accommodations during the travel delegation will be basic but clean. As noted above, there will be two primary locations for students post-delegation. Homestay placements will be arranged based on a matching process before the group’s arrival in Tucson. Students are encouraged to participate in activities with their host family and to consider their homestay a central part of the program. The homestay families in Tucson will receive thorough orientation about the DukeEngage program. Many families have partnered with BorderLinks in the past, including receiving students and groups in their homes, and are familiar with the organization’s educational mission. During the homestay period, students will rely on the Tucson public bus system (Sun Tran) to reach their service placement sites and the BorderLinks Headquarters. During homestay times, the Headquarters will remain open to students for daytime/evening group space, kitchen privileges, and meeting areas. During the time when students live in the BorderLinks dormitory, the students will share bedrooms (2-3 students per bedroom) and share living space, bathrooms, and kitchen space with one another and at times with other students and visitors to the site. The Headquarters includes both offices (daytime staff) and the dormitory/living area for groups who stay at the headquarters. The Headquarters has Internet access, with one computer in the residential area and phones for receiving calls and/or emergency use. Students may bring their own laptops and cell phones, which they may keep either at their homestays or at BorderLinks. The on-the-ground coordinator lives within a short drive of the BorderLinks headquarters, and BorderLinks staff are also on-site during the daytime in the offices.
Meals: For the pre-departure workshop led by SAF, meals will be catered and vegetarian/vegan options will be provided. During the orientation and Southern Arizona delegation, all meals will be prepared by BorderLinks staff and/or the homestay families. Meals prepared by BorderLinks staff will be vegetarian, with some produce coming from the on-site garden. Meals prepared by homestay families will likely contain meat products, though vegetarians and vegans (and other dietary needs) will be accommodated at all times with advance notice. During homestays, the family will provide daily breakfast and dinner meals. Students will sometimes take a lunch they prepare themselves in the Headquarters or at their homestay. During times when students are living in the BorderLinks dormitory, the on-the-ground coordinator (and interested students) will shop for breakfast and dinner meals. There are farmers markets, food co-ops, and many organic and local options for grocery shopping. Students will generally prepare their own breakfasts, and the group (or rotations of students and on-the-ground coordinator) will prepare most dinners and will eat together. In the past, students have enjoyed participating in the evening meal preparation, and we encourage students to bring recipes and cooking ideas for the group. Students will sometimes take a lunch they prepare themselves in the Headquarters; other times they will buy their lunch out (funds are provided to cover these lunches). About once weekly, the group will have an intentional dinner together for community-building and reflection. BorderLinks staff will educate students on issues of food security on both sides of the border, which is an additional educational component that is interesting and engaging.
Communication: Students are encouraged to bring laptops, cell phones, and documentary equipment (cameras, video cameras, voice recorders, etc). As stated above, the BorderLinks Headquarters has Internet access (including wireless) and one computer for shared use. A land line telephone is available for use at the Headquarters as well. When traveling, students will be encouraged to leave laptops behind; students may determine whether or not to carry cell phones during this time. The on-the-ground coordinator will carry a functioning cell phone at all times. The cell phone number will be shared with students to pass on to family members for their emergency use during the Southern Arizona travel time. Except in emergency situations, students will not be permitted to use cell phones during group activities, meals, or while traveling in the vans.
Transportation: For the pre-departure workshop, SAF will provide group transportation to a labor camp in a rural area. In addition to flights to/from RDU and Tucson, participants will travel by a combination of public bus and private van/suv/car transportation, most often by 15-passenger van driven by BorderLinks staff. During the Southern Arizona delegation, only BorderLinks staff (always one US citizen and one Mexican citizen leader) will transport group members by 15-passenger van. BorderLinks staff have emergency preparedness plans well-communicated amongst staff, and in place at all times during the travel portion. Students will often take the public bus and may occasionally take a taxi when in Tucson.
Volunteer Placement Logistics: Students are encouraged to look at the websites of our community partners for more insight into each organization’s mission and programs. Students should also view our previous program websites that Duke students have created, as these will provide a good deal of information on what to expect with regard to the volunteer placements and the program overall. Students are encouraged to contact prior program participants at Duke for more information on the program and placements. Students will learn more about placement opportunities during the Interview period for our program, and then will provide their placement preferences to the program leader. The on-the-ground coordinator will work with students and the community partners to place students at their preferred sites. Community partners may interview students by phone and/or ask for additional information or brief essays from students in advance of placements.
Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Students will have some limited free time to pursue social activities or have downtime, including some evening time and weekends.