Embracing the Border

Wow. It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure since I last reflected on this trip, but that was before I even arrived. We’ve been in South Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, for 4 days now and it has been an eye opening experience: through both a public health and humane lens.

I’ve been working with my team recruiting college students from the Rio Grande Valley area to partake in surveys for the community health assessment, which has been surprisingly easy and very successful. The students are engaging and willing to let us delve into their lives and better understand their perception. I’ve found the campus to be reflective of the community: inviting, hard working, and caring. Inviting in the sense that their campus and the greater community share a fluid border. Hard working as much of any college campus, but the initiation, execution, and preparation  of the community health assessment in the survey design embraces that concept of industriousness. Caring through the students’ willingness to take time out of their busy days and share their opinions with us to improve the quality and focus of health services. Peppered in throughout this week has been our adventures with the culture and geography of the area and the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, Hidalgo County and Tamaulipas, and everyone in between.

Monday afternoon we were fortunate to be invited to a binational meeting between Mexico and the U.S. discussing the plan for Zika and arbovirus’s and how each country already approaches these mosquito vector illnesses. It was an amazing opportunity to see an area be so cooperative and organized, coming together to meet public health demand and focus on prevention. This afternoon though, Wednesday, was a real highlight: the border. We traveled to the Progreso International Bridge this afternoon and were given a tour of the area, were explained its function, and relationship with the U.S. government (it’s a privately owned bridge, one of only three in the U.S.). It was so impactful to witness the wall, and to reflect on the journeys people have taken to provide for themselves and their families, health included. Seeing the bridge, the wall, and all of the interaction in the area was incredibly eye opening and I will forever be grateful for this week, today, and the lessons I’m learning along the way. Stay tuned for the next post, once I’m able to process things a little more and reflect once I’m back in Ann Arbor. But, for now, adiós!border

 

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