U-C: What I See

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's an education for? Migrant Art from Altar Sonora


It's not such a very long way from Nebraska to the U.S./Mexico border.

Last weekend I had the honor to offer the commencement address at Hastings College, a small, liberal arts college founded by Presbyterians that is located about one hundred and seventy miles west of Omaha. I was pleased to be asked, because lately Hastings students seem to be showing up in many of the places that are important to me. For instance, more than a dozen students have spent time at BorderLinks learning about migrants over the last year, and several of them came down to hang out for more than a month last summer.

While I was on campus, I was re-aquainted with two of the students I had met on the border, affectionately known by friends and faculty alike as "the M & M's. Melissa and Molly are part of the Vocaton and Values program that Hastings offers for students who want to explore ways in which their faith is integrated into their sense of vocation.

This spring, Molly and Melissa decided to do a class project on migrant art. They raised enough money to spend spring break on their own in Altar Sonora, and they took paints and forty canvases with them. Then, they hung out in the plaza in Altar where migrants are getting off the bus and trying to figure out how to get across the border. When they invited some of the folks they met to paint their feelings about their journey, they were overwhelmed by the response that it ilicited.

I've asked them to put the resulting paintings up on the Hastings website. You can find it at http://www.hastings.edu/igsbase/igstemplate.cfm?SRC=MD014&SRCN=index&GnavID=144&SnavID=289&TnavID=274

If you're at all interested in the current conversation in the media and in our congress regarding migrants, I hope you'll take the time to look at these paintings, which are quite moving. If you have access to email networks or other blogs, I hope you'll post this link to help us get these images out there.

Both graduating seniors and the rest of the student body impressed me a great deal during my visit to Hastings. Somehow, Hastings is pulling off a major shift in the campus culture, and their students are becoming more and more invested in how to make a difference in the rest of the world. When you finish looking at Molly's and Melissa's project, you might take a couple of minutes to learn more about the Vocation and Values program, and to check out the rest of what Hastings has to offer.