During the January Intersession, PSR students took a challenging 11-day immersion course on the San Ysidro/Tijuana border. The course requires examining environmental conditions, learning about the history of U.S./Mexico border relations, and speaking with people living and working in this limnal space between poverty and abundance, danger and safety, exploitation and injustice. These are first-person reflections from PSR students who participated in this life-changing learning experience.
"I am very grateful to God for the experience at Centro Romero. The experience challenged and transformed me. I travelled home with a heart broken open with hope."
Debbie Hoogester, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
"This was a comprehensive and wonderful experience. I want to bring my son here and I would love to sponsor anyone who would like to come to Centro Romero, especially anyone within the anti-immigrant movement who think that by coming across the border "these people are committing a crime." Thank you Centro Romero, in border ministries, you are the best."
Kristina Johnson, Greensboro, NC
"Being present at the Romero Center and having the opportunity to cross the border and meet people who believe in the power of being fully alive has increased my faith, restored my hope and inspired me to share the story in the world where I live. I wish I could use my gifts to be part of this ministry." Rev. Elaine Blanchard, Memphis, TN. "Coming to Centro Romero has been personally and spiritually transformative. This experience opened my eyes to the role of U.S. economic policies that perpetuate severe poverty in the United States and Mexico as well as the empowerment of ordinary women whose faith and connection to the earth have sustained them to over 10 years of extraordinary commitment in the struggle for environmental justice."
Rev. Deborah Tate Breault
"First let me say… there are no words that can fully describe the experience Centro Romero provided. My life has been greatly enriched. I was honored to be part of such powerful and transformative experience."
Dr. Willie Mae Hawkins, North Carolina
"Centro Romero's role in transforming our understanding of marginalization, border issues and the parallel of our oppressions and our common vision for social justice cannot be overstated. We need an intentional space and place to identify, sort out, indeed to do the tug and push that must be done to carry a clear message to the Church and beyond."
Dr. Brenda Joyner, Cleveland, OH
"The experience that Centro Romero provided us with helped me immensely to gain a new understanding of justice issues that need to be a priority for congregations all over. I was touched and challenged by this and my life is now forever different."
Rev. Justin Grimm, Lake Ann, NJ
"At Centro Romero and through Carlos I learned that we need both, justice and mercy. The experience showed us how some actions and/or groups focus on one or the other, and also, in the case of the hospice, how some programs/ministries focus on both. The Romero Center's immersion experience helped me see that the organized church often leans toward mercy. That is not wrong, but I am going back to my place of ministry convinced that we, the body of Christ that is the church, are call to do both: justice and mercy. Thank you Centro Romero for helping me change my vision toward ministry."
Jaqueline Berlien, Berkeley, CA
"Centro Romero offered me an experience like no other. I observed people making a difference, without having financial contributions from any organization… that was a lesson about faith. I was amazed by the unity of the people, helping each other… that was a lesson about unity. I was touched by the spirit of the Mexican people… that was a lesson about strength. What an experience, thanks!"
Destaye Crawford, Cambridge, MN
"Como Mexicana, la experiencia de inmersión a través de Centro Romero fue extraordinaria. Fue una experiencia definida por el dolor al ver lo que mis hermanos y hermanas pasan sin justificación, pero me doy cuenta que Dios está actuando a través de las muchas personas que conocimos, aquellos y aquellas que han estado dispuestos a dejarse usar por El. Regreso a mi iglesia y comunidad comprometida con buscar los medios para ayudar en la resolución de los problemas que por primera vez vi. Carlos, gracias por permitirme ser parte de tan increíble ministerio y por permitirme ver lo que mis hermanos y hermanas sufren. Cada uno de ustedes estarán en mis oraciones. Que Dios les siga guiando a seguir adelante."
Maricela Saviano León
"My participation in the Border Immersion Experience really worked to remind me of the World and its realities. I was confronted with question about humanity, dignity, respect and God's love for all. I was reminded of God's love for me and the self-worth I must feel – I was reminded of all the things I deserve and need – everyone need to conceptualize self worth and love. No one deserves to suffer, no one; it is not a question of the cards we deal with in life. It's about reclaiming who we are and who others are to God in this world. Centro Romero helped to confront these issues. We need to reconstruct our policies, our communities, and our world so all may experience their dignity and live hood, their happiness and their place in the world – all working together to end injustice, corruption and hurting. Thank you so much Centro Romero."
Stacey Sebrasse, Berkeley, CA.
"Amazing experience to be able to meet the dedicated people who are fighting for their community. To stand in the place where families live with a contaminated river, drinking water and homes created out of old garage doors and to see and hear the positive "we can" conversation gives me renewed hope."
Florence Coppola, Shaker Heights, OH
"This was an "eye opening" experience for me who lives in a community far from the border. Educational and emotionally challenging as well as spiritually. Centro Romero has excellent contacts to expose participants to various issues and to a ministry that is being pro active for the community and individuals. A life changing experience."
J.H. New Hampsire
"I was taken by the poverty of the people and the degree of environmental degradation in Tijuana. However, the spirit of the people we met was amazing to me. They had a profound sense of pride that inspired me. The border fence more than divides two nations – it separates people and all the creatures of the environment. It is a crime, while the wheels of the "economy" keep turning. It was a meaningful experience that I will not forget." Karl Jones, Kutztown, PA
"Learned more than expected about border ministries. Carlos and Dan did an excellent job. I feel like I have a much better appreciation of the difficulties faced by immigrants and the hardships put on entire families."
Bob Waidmann, Pleasant Hill, TN