SAN BENITO — Instead of going to the beach, a group of students from Vanderbilt University spent their Spring Break learning about La Posada Providencia.
Last week, the shelter welcomed the students in what has now become a yearly spring visit.
For the past couple of years, the group of young men and women travel from Nashville, Tennessee, to the Rio Grande Valley for an alternative Spring Break experience.
Instead of spending the week partying at the beach like many others do, these students take part in a unique weeklong trip visiting different local organizations to learn about immigration and the community along the South Texas border.
From March 6 through the 10th, the group of energetic students visited La Posada to hear about its mission and clients.
La Posada Providencia, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence, is a ministry for people in crisis from around the world, who are seeking legal refuge in this country.
“The value of a life is immeasurable, but when a life is jeopardized, and that life has to cross raging rivers and frightening forests to reach our homeland, America, we should learn to protect the dignity of that life as La Posada has,” said student Sachin Sanam.
The shelter staff provides a safe and welcoming home, mentors to promote self-sufficiency and cultural integration, and imparts values “which witness God’s Providence in our world.”
“La Posada never stops working for the benefit of the hundreds of men, women and children who come through our doors every year,” said Alma Rock, development coordinator.
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve our services and infrastructure. We never know when an influx in clients will occur, so we must always be prepared to serve.”
The students received a tour, participated in a presentation on immigration and La Posada’s history and services, and visited with clients to hear their stories. The students also had the opportunity to engage with clients by playing an exciting game of bingo and shared lunch together.
“Working with La Posada has been an amazing experience to witness firsthand the asylee and immigration situation along the border. It allowed us to understand what immigration is really like as opposed to what the media depicts,” said student Analia Mireles.
All the student experience at the shelter differed. However, they all learned from the experience.
“Being able to interact with and learn from the immigrants that the workers at La Posada help was an incredible experience. I was able to learn so much about the process of leaving one’s home country and moving to a safer place,” said student David Reichert.
“I think if more people could understand the reasons for asylees’ and immigrants’ travel, we could begin to fix a broken system.”