All throughout my life I have gone on multiple service trips throughout the United States. From New Orleans, to Indiana, West Virginia, and Nashville, help is needed many places in the United States. I learned so much and loved all of these trips so much. My freshman year of college, I saw a simple paper, on a table, asking if I wanted to go on a service trip to Tijuana, Mexico for Spring Break. I thought “Tijuana?”. Going through the news postings, anyone in their right mind would never think of stepping food across the border into Tijuana. I have a mother grow up miles away from the border who used to visit Tijuana every weekend with her family who would now not even think of going there. I thought of all of this, took the email from the flyer, applied, and went; I couldn’t be any more thankful that I found this simple flyer, and here’s why.
Everyone told me I was crazy, everyone tried to convince me I was wrong for going, but I went. I went to Tijuana, lived in a colonia with 8 other Americans and felt safer living there for a week than I do in the states. Don’t get me wrong, I have pride and love for my country all the same, but until you experience spending a week in the heart of Tijuana, you will not understand. Being immersed in another countries culture for a whole week is one of the most cherished experiences I have. You get to meet the locals, interact with them, and show you are not the normal stereotype of the “party Americans”. You can show them that you too are people and are here to just have a good time with people.
Along with getting to live in the community, we also got to work in it. Working in a community, and finding out these families stories makes it all worth while. Seeing what people do for their families there, and their community amazes me. Not only do people band together to support their families, they will never let their neighbors falter either. I have never seen so much of a community help each other out willingly. No one expects a pay back, they do it out of their own kindness. These people are the heart of Tijuana, not the drug cartel you all hear about.
Finally, going to Tijuana allowed me to create my own opinion about the world. Living in the US, we have a tendency to believe everything we hear on the news, well guess what? The news has a tendency to only give us the bad side of the world. What the news tells us is that a little boy was shot in cross fire during a drug cartel shooting, not that a woman of the age of 85 came mix cement and pour the floor of a house and afterward she made dinner for 30 Americans whom she all fed before feeding her own community members and family out of gratefulness toward their help. Yes, Tijuana has dangers, but it does not have any more crime than cities that hold crime in the US. I have created my own opinion on Tijuana, I know what it is like, I scoff at the news reports I hear because it just makes people in the US believe it is a dirty, nasty place when it is a beautiful city filled with culture and love.
I have loved all of my trips to Tijuana and can’t wait to go back. I have had people tell me, I am unpatriotic by going to help others before “my own”, that I am betraying my country, that I hate America and it wouldn’t come off that way if I fixed my own country before another. Your opinions are allowed, you can say whatever you want to me or about me. I believe however that we are all people, we all deserve the chance to feel love, we all live in one earth, one earth that needs an immense amount of love, it does not matter where this love is received as long as it is being given so that others may feel it then give it back to someone else. Tijuana has taught me this, and I couldn’t be more grateful.