For one week in March, JMU students were immersed in the culture, society and daily lives of immigrant communities along the Texas-Mexico border.
Breaking Down Barriers with LUPE, a JMU Alternative Break Program, exposed students to issues facing low-income residents of the Rio Grande Valley through direct service and education.
In partnership with La Union del Pueblo Entero, a local community organization, the students helped refurbish housing, feed the hungry and tutor residents in English. Participants also engaged in hands-on learning about immigration reform and other prevalent social issues through visits to the border wall, El Milagro Clinic and the colonias—impoverished areas lacking basic infrastructure and services.
“We’re not here to save these people,” said Gianluca Grignoli (’19), a political science major. “We’re here for a week, and no effort that we can do will compare to the work that the organization has been doing for much longer. … The main thing is that we’re here to learn and we’re here to understand.”