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Border Awareness Experience - Anthony, New Mexico

2015 dates TBD
 email soneill@siena.edu for information
The BAE is an educational immersion that takes place on the Southwestern U.S./Mexican Border.  This region is a microcosm for global concern, and a place where critical issues intersect in tangible ways -- economics, human rights, ecology, migration, labor, militarization of the border, health and more.  BAE participants have the opportunity to engage in discussions with local residents and professionals, receive presentations from topic experts, and meet with local grassroots organizations involved in the issues.  
 
The Border Awareness Experience By Samantha Watson
On January 13, 2011 Dr. Shannon O’Neil led Valerie Swenson, Grace Tobin, Kristen Yesensky, and I to the Women’s Intercultural Center (WIC) in Anthony, New Mexico for a week-long experience. Anthony is a small town that lies directly on the New Mexico/Texas border, about 20 minutes from El Paso, Texas (where we spent the majority of our time). The Center aims to “provide a place for women to learn and work together to develop their social, spiritual, economic and political potential.” This is done through their community center that consists of several buildings, including a house which facilitated our stay. It also includes a computer lab, fitness and English classes, a thrift store, an art studio where women can sell what they make, and a haircutting studio where women learn to cut hair.
At the WIC our group participated in the Border Awareness Experience (BAE) where we got a chance to meet with grassroots leaders, locals, and others who deal with issues of immigration on the U.S./Mexican border, as well as take a tour of the border through the Border Patrol. We also visited various organizations, like La Mujer Obrera (The Working Woman) that was founded in response to the high number of jobs lost by Mexican women working (about 35,000) in clothing manufacturing because of the establishment of NAFTA. La Mujer Obrera is an organization in El Paso that aims to empower women, give them jobs, and teach the community about their Mexican heritage.
Essentially, our group was given the opportunity to understand what entails living in and near a border city, especially through the woman perspective. We were fortunate enough to be hosted by amazing people through the Women’s Intercultural Center who presented many sides of the issues we were educated about. Due to our incredible time in the Border Awareness Experience, the Women’s Center here at Siena looks forward to taking this trip again next year and (hopefully) for the following years to come.