The one question I always have trouble answering is, “Why do I keep coming back?” I find this question most difficult because I feel as if I never have the right words or enough time to share all of my experiences in an adequate way. Esperanza means so much to me as a volunteer; their mission, the families, the staff, construction days…the list goes on. The individual encounters are what have impacted me most during my time spent in Tijuana. Four strong and wonderful women, Maria, Rosa and Ruby, stand out to me in particular, all women of the families Esperanza works with. Meeting Julia this week was a breath of fresh air, her light-hearted demeanor and love for each of our group members comforted me and left me encouraged at the end of each work day. On the last day of work Julia gave a speech expressing her gratitude and offering her home to each of us. I left the work site on Friday with a heavy heart because I knew that I was leaving having gained so much from her yet still unsure how much I had helped this week. What I take away from this trip is a unique story and encounter I’ve had with Julia.
She reminded me the value of family and community this week and the tears in her eyes as we said final goodbyes symbolized the love and compassion she showed all of us. Julia and the week I spent at her house is one of the answers to, “Why do I keep coming back?” By coming to Tijuana and sharing these experiences I’ve been able to discover more about what the values of family, love and community are while at the same time build friendships across the border. Today I leave with tears in my eyes because I’m leaving the country that has taught me something new about what it means to be a citizen, has brought new friends into my life, and has strengthened my values. I am forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to be a part of Esperanza and work towards empowering and educating others and myself about global issues.