Not only were we surrounded by so much diversity in ethnicity, age, and education level but also in experiences. I had never been in a room full of mostly women who were so passionate about their personal causes but also to share their story. There was a point in the conference when I started focusing on individuals and wondering what their story was; where they came from, why they were at that specific presentation, or just what they thought of New York. I tend to think micro, more about individuals and less about the masses, but at this conference I was forced to continuously think of both.
At the first presentation I went to called “The Connections Between Illegal Immigration and Trafficking” I found out that the Bay Area in California has the highest rates of human trafficking in the United States and that’s really close to home for me. That statistic shocked me, I had no idea. I also learned about how undocumented immigrants become subject to human trafficking and other inhumane tasks. They are forced into it in fear of being turned into immigration and having to return to their country of origin which may be undergoing extreme violence or poverty. This was a new perspective for me, I didn’t know undocumented people were being targeted in this way.
I’m a first generation Mexican American, my parents came to the United States undocumented so I understood the fear of being turned in and having to go back home to start over. But working at CARECEN now I’ve come across people that are leaving their countries because they don’t feel safe anymore. Some of my clients have been threatened at gunpoint and who knows what else they’ve endured. I can’t imagine who would think to target people who are at their lowest and have nowhere else to go, it’s unbelievable-but it’s happening. It happens more so to undocumented unaccompanied minors, another fact I was unaware of. It made me think about the Reunification packages that I’ve helped fill out for guardians of unaccompanied minors who have been detained and all the ones I haven’t help fill out because the minor was snatched away to be exploited before immigration even had a clue they were here. All those facts made me angry and wanting to do more.
That is why I didn’t like to think large scale, why I wouldn’t think about the rest of the world as much. I thought me as one person couldn’t do anything to make a real difference. But after just the first day and the first presentation at the Commission on the Status of Women I learned otherwise. Everyone that works for social justice is doing their part and it matters, it makes a difference. And if we continue working together and sharing knowledge globally we can change things for the better. I learned it takes patience and time to see some big differences depending on the type of government you reside in and who you’re trying to convince. It was a great time spent in community with the other Loretto Volunteers who would come together after and talk about the presentations they had gone to and what they learned. What an incredible experience to share with one another in this year of working for justice and acting for peace through the Loretto Community.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.