“El Otro Lado”: La Salle Students and Staff Experience “The Other Side” on the Arizona Border Immersion

Samantha Kar, Assistant Editor

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Every year, up to ten juniors and seniors from La Salle embark on the five-day El Otro Lado Arizona border immersion to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico to explore issues related to the border between Mexico and the United States.

Meaning “The Other Side,” El Otro Lado is hosted by San Miguel High School in Tucson, a fellow Lasallian school, which is also where the participants stay at night.

On the immersion, participants learn about and experience the treacherous journey people take to cross the U.S./Mexican border. They interact with humanitarian aid groups, Border Patrol agents, and those with firsthand accounts of their experiences.

This year, seven seniors and two juniors, accompanied by Mr. Krantz and Ms. Hoemmen, departed for the trip on March 18 and returned on March 22.

The Falconer asked the participants to reflect on their experience of taking part in this immersion.

After going on this immersion, I feel more confused about the issue of immigration altogether because I was able to see first hand how complex the issue is and how many people are affected by it besides immigrants… it is just so amazing how much you can learn by going and seeing something in real life.” -Katie Moreland, senior

“The way the immersion is set up I felt like it was hard to keep any pre-conceived ideas on immigration because you don’t truly understand it until you witness it.” -Ms. Hoemmen

“Though it doesn’t look like much, this place will give the many men, women, teenagers, and small children that pass through for a meal and medical attention an invaluable resource that the rest of their quest for a better life through illegal immigration will deny them: their human dignity.” -Brigid Hanley, junior

“I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude; all I had to do was get in line, show my passport, and pass through the port of entry, along with my slight annoyance at the length of the line and how tired I was of standing. Shame washes over me looking back on those moments, later finding out what crossing the border entails for those not as lucky as I am.” -Emma Sheets, junior

When we were at the courthouse, we got to watch a process called ‘Operation Streamline’. This process is basically prosecuting 6-7 deportees at the same time and giving them all a chance to declare whether they are guilty or not of entering the United States. They all say ‘Sí’ and after they’re all told what their consequences are… It sucked.” -Souria Luyamba, senior

“[W]e were walking alongside the border. We saw that there was a man on the Mexico side talking to a man on the US side. It was just a really powerful moment for me to see and I was (and still am) really curious about what they were talking about.” -Katie Moreland, senior

Many kids have to wait in an hour long line to cross over to go to school, and just want to come over to receive a better education.” -Katie Gage, senior

“We are offering what each of us can to the others, giving of ourselves out of that mutual respect derived from our inherent human dignity. I can serve these deserving people a hot meal, but more importantly, I can listen, care, learn, and hopefully work to make a change that will alleviate the suffering of migrants.” -Brigid Hanley, junior

This is not only political but also a topic on human rights. If social justice, human rights, and experiencing cultures different than your own interest you, then this is an excellent trip for you.” Ms. Hoemmen

It is the most important thing we do here at La Salle.” -Katie Gage, senior

“If it were up to me, everyone would go, because I don’t think there is one person who would not gain something important from the trip.” -Emma Sheets, junior

For a more in-depth look at this immersion, check out the three guest columns from junior Emma Sheets, junior Brigid Hanley, and Mr. Krantz.