After an extremely long day of travel, we finally made it. We were in Texas. We were met by a landscape of strip malls and fast food restaurants all surrounded by palm trees. The weather was beautiful. Everyone in the group was outwardly excited to be outside walking around parka free!
Since our arrival on Sunday, I have been immersed in the culture of the Rio Grande Valley. This is a place like no other I have even been to. It has the Texas clichés like barbecue joints and cattle ranches, but it also gives you the feeling that you are in Mexico. This feeling is particularly evident in the town of Brownsville where I have been working this week.
The Mexican culture in Brownsville seems to stem from its proximity to Mexico. In fact, The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus where I am working this week sits just a mile or so from one of the border bridges between Texas and Mexico.
On Monday morning when I arrived in Brownsville with my colleague Grace, our preceptor Lisa immediately took us on a short driving tour around the town. This driving tour proved to be an eye opening one. The first location that Lisa took us to was a neighborhood where Grace and I would be able to see the wall that was built to separate Texas and Mexico. I was unaware that there was a wall in this part of the state so I was very surprised to see it.
Unlike what one might think, the wall isn’t very tall, and also has large breaks in it. These breaks are necessary because the wall is in the middle of the state. The border of Texas and Mexico runs along the Rio Grande River, which is a windy river, but when this wall was built the goal was for it to be a straight line. This is because it seems that the wall was built more due to politics than for protection. I found this idea to be quite alarming.
After we saw the wall, Lisa took us to a few more locations around the town so that we could see the beautiful and incredibly historical parts of Brownsville that help to make it such a unique place. Overall, I am very grateful to have gone on this initial tour and hope to learn so much more about Brownsville and its culture throughout the week!