–Rich Perry, Director, of Community Service and Social Justice, Texas
–Ashley Ponce, Church Outreach Coordinator, Ohio
Through the Encuentro Project, members from our parish…have been to the border four times. Each encounter has been a life-changing experience for the participants. The Encuentro Project offers an affordable, comprehensive, unbiased experience of what is happening to our brothers and sisters fleeing violence and oppression.
–Sue Robb, Pastoral Associate for Justice & Life, Missouri
Working with the Encuentro Project was a transformative experience for my high school students and for me. The Encuentro Project provides a comprehensive look at the immigration issue through meetings with different groups including immigration attorneys, border patrol agents and community activists as well as the direct ministry to migrants in shelters.
–Mary Pullano, Spanish Teacher, Washington, DC
My Encuentro experience was both educational and emotional; my mind was challenged and my heart was moved. Not only was each activity unique and valuable, but each experience built off of the previous one and culminated with spending an afternoon at the largest shelter for migrants and refugees in the state of Texas.
Upon returning to my normal life, my week on the border lingered on my mind and my heart. It truly unveiled a depth of emotion within me that I had never felt before. A year later after graduating college, I moved to El Paso as a long-term volunteer with Annunciation House, acting on my deep desire to return. I look back on my Encuentro immersion with much gratitude for it served as a pivotal signpost that led me to where I am today.
University of Detroit Mercy students and staff followed up on their visit here in the following ways:
1. Published articles/reflections about their experiences with Encuentro Project
“Faith Is All They Have Left”: Encounter on the U.S.-Mexico Border by Vania Noguez
Excerpt: In order to better understand the wrongs against humanity, we need to reverse the tables and ask ourselves how we would want to be treated. Catholic Social Teaching explains that we have a universal responsibility as Catholics and as human beings to embrace and support suffering communities. By learning about people who suffer differently than ourselves, through interaction with diverse cultures, we can connect as a holy human family and truly be moved to action.
A Christmas of Encounter at the El Paso Border by Fr. Tom Florek, SJ
Excerpt: Arriving at 3:30 p.m. on a government bus were the first dozen Central American families who had just been released from an ICE detention facility, which is referred to as the la hielera, or ice box, because of the cold temperature…The families came into the back entrance with their children in hand. No one carried luggage or backpacks, only their children. The shelter’s volunteers, including the UDM students, provided a warm welcome, assuring the young, exhausted, cold, and hungry families with hospitality and human care.
Journey of Encounter: Witnessing God’s Great Love at Our Border by Sister Erin McDonald, CSJ
Excerpt: As a social worker who has spent nearly a decade working with refugees and asylum seekers, I have an understanding of our country’s immigration system and the shattering experiences of displaced persons. Yet my time in El Paso stretched me in new ways spiritually, emotionally,
2. One student created a theme for the yearly honor’s symposium around immigration, using the focus points of empathy, expanding moral circles, and the need to dismantle the language of “us and them”; included keynote address on expanding moral circle, followed by a panel of four from the El Paso trip
3. Bulk ordered and sold Capeltic coffee
4. Created video student reflection on the experience of the trip, used to fundraise and promote the next trip
5. Offered post-trip reflection gathering where students did some guided theological reflection on their week in El Paso