Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Personal Look into Women's Experiences Crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border

This week's Tuesday Brown Bag, entitled "Women's Stories From and Beyond the U.S.-Mexican Frontera", consisted of a panel of two students (Jessica Aquino '14 and Manuel Heredia-Santoyo '14) and our administrative assistant, Kimmie Garner.  The nearly 100 students, staff, and faculty attendants crowded into the Center were lucky enough to hear personal stories of Kimmie’s experiences working at a birth center in El Paso, Texas, and of Jess’ and Manuel’s moms crossing the border within the last 25 years. 

Kimmie started the discussion by telling of her experience at a midwifery school, training to be a doula, in El Paso, a city in Texas right along the Mexican border.  She talked about how many Mexican women crossed the border to attend the birth center for prenatal appointments, birth, and postnatal appointments.  This center gave the women a chance to have a safe, calming birthing area for less money than the expensive hospitals in Mexico.  She spoke a lot about how she felt privileged at this center as she could speak both English and Spanish and clearly had the positive privilege of being a white, American young woman.  This was hard for her because she was there to ultimately learn and help the Mexican mothers. 

Kimmie’s story sparked an informal interview of both Jessica and Manuel, both of whose mothers crossed the border into California in order to give their children the opportunity of growing up and being educated in the U.S.  Both Jess and Manuel are first generation college students and discussed how their mothers gave a great sacrifice to raise them in the U.S. to give them a better life.  After they told their stories, students and faculty asked many questions of the two panelists about how they deal with having two cultural identities and how they try to stay emotionally close to their mothers.

The Brown Bag was a very personal one and I am very appreciative, as I’m sure is most of the audience, of the panelist’s honesty and willingness to share their thoughts and feelings.  I learned a lot, and I thank all three panelists for their stories.  

-Breanna Pendleton '12

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