By: Roxane Ramos
The KBI’s educational programs reach out to dispel myths about migrants and reinforce the connection among us.
One of the most misunderstood and contentious issues today is immigration. People in both the United States and Mexico have strong feelings about the subject, either sympathetic to the migrants, resistant to reform, or somewhere in between. But wherever one falls on the continuum, misinformation abounds and there continues to be a basic misunderstanding about who the migrants are and what motivates them to undertake such an arduous journey, often more than once. The Kino Border Initiative’s educational programs exist to change that, providing facts to combat the ignorance, opportunities to hear first-hand stories, and the chance to ascribe faces to this largely unseen population.
Any given week will find various KBI staff spreading the word on both sides of the border. Executive Director Fr. Sean Carroll gives lectures on immigration frequently, and West Cosgrove, Director of Education, has developed a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation based in his many years in the field. In Nogales, Sonora, Sr. María Engracia Robles Robles, Education and Advocacy Coordinator in Mexico, oversees the educational efforts, speaking at various venues and sometimes on the radio about the plight of the migrants.
One of the most successful educational programs of the KBI is the Kino Teens, a program run by Assistant Director of Education Fr. Pete Neeley and Mrs. Teresita Scully, Campus Minister of Lourdes Catholic School (LCS) in Mexico. The program began with a group of young people from LCS, but has expanded to include other schools as well. These high school students not only help out in the comedor and with other direct aid services; they also visit schools and churches to talk about their experience and how it has changed them.
And this is one of the great strengths of education and the reason why it such an effective, if seemingly unassuming, means to disseminate information. It doesn’t end with a lecture or workshop. The lessons ripple outward as students, readers, listeners, and participants spread what they know. Each immersion tour to Nogales, each panel in immigration issues, each and every heated debate around the dinner table or fleeting cocktail party conversation, carries knowledge out into the world, reminds us of our connection to each other, and helps to reinforce our shared values of compassion, tolerance and social justice.
* The Numbers: In 2013, the Kino Border Initiative hosted 45 visits of individuals or groups interested in learning more about the KBI; led 29 immersion experiences of 1–3 days; and gave 36 educational presentations/workshops.