The Southwest

Fronteras | Borders


The U.S. - Mexican Border: My Neighborhood

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May 7, 2015 —
It was especially sad, when I visited my old neighborhood, to see the condition of my old high school. Jesus & Mary Academy was an all-girl boarding school run by nuns of the Jesus & Mary Order. In my memories, it was filled with laughter, learning and dreams. It was welcoming, bright and cheery, and colorful posters were often taped on the windows during holidays or Spirit Week. This picture shows that it was taken over by a local Pentecostal Church. The sign in Spanish reads "Center of Life, West."

When it was my high school, there was a residency program for girls from Cuidad Juárez and local girls from the neighborhood attended as day students. It was two blocks from my home. It was at this school when I met four young men from Providence College who inspired me to take a leap of faith to explore the world.

As I stood in front to take this photo, the iron fence made me feel unwelcome, like a border wall put up between the past and the present.

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Here is the Southern view we had from all the classrooms at Jesus & Mary. Freight trains like this one went through there every day. I loved the sound of the grinding wheels on the tracks and the occasional long, drawn-out sad sounding train whistle. whooooooot … 🎶

One of my favorite memories is when the Portland Cement Company down below on Paisano Street imploded one of its buildings. The students and teachers heard about this only the morning it was scheduled to come down, so when the time came, all the girls in the school gathered around the biggest window in the hallway of the second floor to watch. BOOM! It stood frozen for two seconds, then fell all at once.

On the other side of the border I noticed people watching, waving and cheering. We all cheered back, and for a moment, I felt we had a personal exchange with our neighbors across the border.

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