The Next Step (El próximo paso)

This blog has been dormant for a time as I wrote my senior thesis, graduated from Georgetown, and worked in DC for the summer. But now it is time for the next step in my journey and so I will start using this forum again to share stories, experiences, and reflections.

In the past four years, my love for people who I have met has always led me to the “what next?” of the migrant journey. Learning to love my immigrant neighbors in the Chirilagua neighborhood of Virginia led me to the US/Mexico border and a shelter for Central American migrants in southern Mexico. Then the people that I met at the US/Mexico border always made me wonder “what next?” I saw people for a few days after they had been deported before they either crossed again or decided to travel south to stay in Mexico. I often wondered where life led them after the moment of crisis at the border and waited for an opportunity to accompany them on that later stage of the journey.

Now, two years after I started asking those questions, I am leaving to central Mexico to research the reintegration of deported and return migrants. I will be conducting an ethnographic study based on interviews with migrants, community members, and government officials. The current plan is to be in Guadalajara until the end of November, where I will interview youth who work in call centers. These youth were often educated for some time in the United States, and they obtained call center jobs thanks to their fluent English. For a number of reasons including deportation or return of themselves or their family members, they now find themselves working in Mexico’s second largest city. Much of my research is tentative at the moment, though in addition to interviewing these youth, I will probably be reaching out to other communities in Guadalajara.

After Guadalajara, I will head to rural communities in Puebla for a few months to partner with Jesuit Migration Service. They have a project in a few communities that works with women heads of household, which often means women whose husbands have migrated. Through their connections, I hope to get to know these migrant-sending communities and understand how the cycle of migration and return affect rural life.

The next step in the journey will look different than my previous trips to Mexico – I will not be in a shelter where people come to me nor will I be serving in the strict sense of the word, since my main purpose will be research. It will be a new and probably at times uncomfortable experience. But that is why it is the next step. In a sense I am going forward on the journey even as I accompany migrants who are going back.

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