St. Mary’s Students Become Global Citizens at the US/Mexico Border

St. Mary’s Students Become Global Citizens at the US/Mexico Border

Last month, 13 St. Mary’s students brought our mission and values to life in a real-world setting at the US/Mexico border. This opportunity, to observe first-hand the intricacies of immigration policy and learn the impact directly from those affected, is an inspiring part of our Campus Ministry.

The annual Border Immersion Trip is an opportunity for 10-12th grade students in Spanish 4, Honors, or AP Spanish to immerse themselves in life and ministry at the Nogales, Sonora (Mexico) border. This journey brings our mission as an SMJM school to life, embodying the Sisters’ commitment to promoting justice, providing services to those who are poor or marginalized, offering hospitality, and responding to the needs of women and children.


In preparation for this pilgrimage, the Honors and AP Spanish curriculums at SMA included comprehensive components of Spanish-speaking countries that gave a broader understanding of religion, politics, language, and culture. Students also have an awareness of US policies such as Title 42 and the asylum application process and how these systems “have significant impact on people’s lives.” They discussed tangible ways to work toward transforming these policies that are harmful to our global community.


“I definitely had a much more black-and-white view of immigration before,” sophomore Madison Alexander explained of her new-found understanding of life at the border. “Humanizing those involved in the crisis – both the migrants and the border patrol officers – made it clear how complex it is.”


Madison met two young brothers who had arrived at the border from Venezuela. They shared with her their journey through the Darién Gap, one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes between North and South America, and how they made their way through Mexico by riding atop freight trains. “Even though we had read about a child with a similar experience, hearing children recount what it was like for them and the atrocities they witnessed was extremely impactful.”


Programs like the Border Immersion Trip are a powerful way St. Mary’s prepares our students to be global citizens, dedicated to service and leadership. According to Madison, it also allows her to “contribute meaningfully to future conversations concerning immigration policy and the migration crisis.”

Senior Ella Kirshbaum summarized this transformative experience as “a more nuanced understanding of the different factors involved in migration while also increasing my feelings of sympathy, care, and compassion.”

St. Mary’s Academy is grateful to coordinate with existing Catholic and collaborative networks that engage in research and advocacy to transform local, regional, and national immigration policies, and for our students to do the same. Learn more about the partnering organizations: Kino Border Initiative and  Casa Alitas Program.