VCU Community Engagement News

Center for Community Engagement and Impact

Valentina Selnick-Escobar never expected to see such poignant memorials on the border wall separating the United States and Mexico when she began a service-learning trip to Tucson, Arizona, with VCU assistant professor Anita Nadal. 

“We went to the border on the last day of our trip and it was surreal to see the wall in person,” said Selnick-Escobar, who is majoring in international studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It was really sad and heartbreaking, but it was informative. I feel like I will never forget that.” 

Walking along the wall was “eye opening” for Ishaan Nandwani, a student in the Honors College who is majoring in Spanish and biology at VCU. 

“We saw clothes caught in the wire. The meaning of the clothes was deeper than just clothes — families were risking their lives to make the trip. It shows that the situation was so precarious,” he said. 

Students also saw families communicating across the border fence. One family was sitting on the U.S. side of the barbed wire having lunch while the rest of their family and friends sat on the Mexico side of the fence. 

“They were still engaging in spite of that structure,” said Nadal, who teaches Spanish in the School of World Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “That was powerful for us.” 

Nadal’s course is called La Frontera/The Border. She began offering it in March 2020 before the pandemic. The course focuses on immigrants who have migrated to the United States, especially Latin American women and children. 

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Categories Service-Learning, Uncategorized