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Saint Mary’s student speaks about internship at border as part of ‘I Stand with Immigrants’ initiative

This week, Saint Mary’s hosted multiple events as part of its ‘I Stand with Immigrants’ initiative, designed to commemorate immigrants who have traveled to the United States. Two events were hosted in Rice Commons on Tuesday ahead of the nationwide Day of Action for Immigrants on Wednesday.

The Office for Common Good, the Office of Inclusion and Equity and La Fuerza, a club dedicated to promoting Hispanic and Latino diversity at Saint Mary’s, sponsored the events.

La Fuerza president Jackie Junco said the club was happy to participate in the I stand with Immigrants festivities. 

“A lot of our students who come here are first-generation and coming from migrant families. I think it is important that we highlight not only the students but their families and their courage to come here and do the hard work,” Junco said.

Tuesday’s events fell on the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. Junco said the two events are related because a lot of immigrants may not have the means to survive their journey to the U.S.

“We wanted to combine this with the holiday because a lot of immigrants don’t have the means to survive their journey. I think it’s important to see this is not just to come here for no reason but it is also very dangerous and takes a lot of valor,” she said.

The first event involved decorating sugar skulls and making paper cempasúchils, a marigold flower commonly used in Day of the Dead celebrations. Sophomore Liliana Lomeli then spoke about her summer internship working as a Borderlands ambassador with the Border Community Alliance organization at the U.S. and Mexico border. 

“My purpose in life personally is I want to positively impact anyone around me,” Lomeli said. “I knew immigration, especially with my family’s history, was something I wanted to focus on.” 

Lomeli’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 14 years old. 

During her presentation, Lomeli talked about her duties as an ambassador, which included traveling into the desert to drop supplies for crossing migrants.

“We would do water drops, just leaving water in the desert for migrants who do need to cross,” she said.

Lomeli said she draws on her memory of hiking in the Sonoran Desert, one of the hottest deserts in North America, to try to connect with the struggle migrants go through during their migration. 

Lomeli then discussed Title 42, a rule that allows the U.S. to prevent migrants from seeking asylum at the border as a means of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“Title 42 has virtually forced migrants who are seeking safety and security to resort to cross illegally,” she said. “We see migrants that were being dropped off in bus loads at the border with no shoes, none of the items they crossed with.”

Lomeli ended her presentation by asking everyone to think about how the struggles of immigrants do not end when they reach the U.S. 

Contact Katelyn Waldschmidt at kwaldschmidt01@saintmarys.edu.

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What ‘Coco’ has taught me

Believe me, I get it. Here’s another piece on Coco! Has it been talked about numerous times since its release in 2017? Absolutely, but for good reason. Being Mexican-American myself, I was skeptical at first when Disney announced this film. I thought right away it would be a stereotypical Hispanic film that the majority of audiences would assume Hispanic culture is. However, “Coco” was a film that truly moved me emotionally. So, while this isn’t necessarily a recommendation, I would like to talk about what this film meant to me.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, “Coco” is a 2017 film directed by Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich. The story is of Miguel Rivera, a young musician who crosses over to the Land of the Dead to find his purpose in life while connecting with his ancestors. The film is heavily influenced by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos or also known as Day of the Dead. On this multi-day holiday, family and friends gather to pay respects and remember friends and family members who have died.

When I was little, I had very little care for Dia De Los Muertos. I was naive to the idea of death and why we spent a whole day remembering those who passed on, especially those that I wasn’t necessarily close to. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I understood the importance of this holiday, as well as remembering the dead in general.

I lost all my grandfathers in high school: my Papo (Robert Balleza) on my mother’s side, my grandfather (Raul Zarazua) and my step-grandfather (Lloyd Negrete) on my father’s side. It was hard to process. The role models of my childhood, the people I never thought would leave, are now gone. The idea of death hit me hard, and made me think about what would happen if I left now. How would I be remembered? Would I be remembered years down the line?

As I grew older, the thought wasn’t in my head 24/7, but still lingered, and appeared again when COVID-19 hit. The idea of death and not being remembered hit me like a truck. I never knew how to process these thoughts until my sophomore year, when we finally came back to campus.

I went to an event showing “Coco” and my feelings finally come together. While those we loved are no longer with us, they are never truly gone forever. Just because someone isn’t with you anymore, that doesn’t mean that the love you have for them has disappeared. Their lives have meaning because we, the living, refuse to forget them. When we pass on, we trust and hope those we love will do the same for us. 

“Coco” also shows the importance of passing on traditions and familial legacy. While Coco’s family has a strong hatred toward music, the family and audience learn the value of respecting previous generations and the knowledge our elders have accumulated. There are plenty of people who feel they have made grave mistakes in their life and wish they could take them back. However, the best thing a person can do is to teach the people they love to not make the same mistakes. While those who look up to us want to be just like us, we want them to be better than us so they can have better lives.

No one we love is ever truly gone, and we can continue to keep their legacy alive, remembering the times we had with them and continue to pass on their legacy.

Title: “Coco”

Directors: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal

Streaming: Disney+

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Gabriel at gzarazua@nd.edu