By Abe Villarreal
On Saturday afternoons, I have the blessing of volunteering at a migrant center in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. The center is a place for people who are seeking asylum or who have recently been deported. They can have a temporary stay, food, and shelter.
While they are there, they find relief, but also moments of wonder, second-guessing, changing thoughts, and decision making. Most of them will be sent money by a family member, enough to take the bus all the way to Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador. Some of them will become wanderers. Not sure what to do next. It’s not a good feeling.
From time to time, there are kids. Some as young as babies, others in their teenage years. They don’t experience the range of emotions as their parents, but they often express, through their facial expressions, their moments of daydreaming, that they are also hoping, and wishing for a new beginning.
They are not sure exactly where they are or how far they are from where they started, but they know they are going somewhere and that this moment is part of the journey.
When I’m there, we make them dinner and get a chance to socialize. Many times, we have birthday parties. Pinatas and birthday cake are important when you are celebrating a special day far from home. In the quieter moments, kids will share their feelings. They might ask questions about America, what it’s like, and they often describe it based on what they have seen in movies.
To kids, the world is one big place filled with people. Going from one home to another is not a journey of borders or changing political parties. The differences in governments, city ordinances, traffic lights, are not all that important yet. They are traveling the planet, one place to the next, like millions of people have been doing since the beginning of time.
In those conversations, I begin to learn what kids feel about the world, about you and me. They can acclimate well compared to us, find friends, new neighborhoods, and ways to enjoy summer afternoons. Through what they share, in simple words and sentences, I can only express their feelings through this poem:
When I lay down on my side of the border, I see the same stars that you see. Your stars don’t shine any brighter, they aren’t bigger or closer in reach.
We see the same clouds, the same sun and moon. Is what I’m thinking true? Tell me, what do you see on your side?
Are the stars forming constellations that look like heroes and fantasy like animals from storybooks? Do you see romance and happy couples? That’s what I see.
Maybe we do see different things like people say we do, but I don’t want to believe it.
When we lie next to each other, one on each side of the border, we see the same skies filled with the same stars. We see the same heavens because we are part of the same world.
When I get to your side, I’ll point up and show you everything that I see, and you’ll show me everything you see. We’ll be seeing it together.
Abe Villarreal writes about life and culture in America. He can be reached at email@example.com.