From Indiana to Texas

Teachers travel to El Paso, Texas to experience life on the border

Lily Berggoetz, Reporter

EL teacher Amy Peddie and her family have always had a love for National Parks. When she found out about the Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant, she had a chance to combine her love for National Parks with something educational that she can bring back to share with the people at SHS.

The Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant gives teachers the opportunity to explore their interests in something that they can give back to their school community. Peddie was a recipient of a $12,000 Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant. She then decided to plan a trip to El Paso, Texas, near Big Bend National Park, which is on the U.S./Mexico border, to learn more about immigration.

Six SHS teachers and three from other schools in Perry Township are joining Peddie on this trip. The teachers from SHS that are going are Amy Peddie, Pat O’Connor, Conner McNeely, Erin Ancelet, Dawn Fowerbaugh, Sarah Gott-Helton. The purpose of the trip is to learn more about the experiences and life of those who live on the border. The trip is from June 3 to June 9.

“We wanted to go down to learn more about immigration and see what is happening to the people that are actually crossing the border and what living on the border is like,” Peddie said.  “We live in the center of a state. We don’t live anywhere even near the border of a state. We don’t really have an idea of what a border is like.”

The teachers are planning on participating in a Border Awareness Experience (BAE).  They will be staying at a place called ‘The Annunciation House’. The Annunciation House was founded in 1978 by a group of people from El Paso, Texas.

According to the BAE brochure, the group will be able to experience what it is like for people to live on the border. They will get to see the area that “First World” and “Third World” meet. On the trip, they will be participating in different activities. The brochure lists some of the many activities including: visiting immigration court and observing court proceedings, visiting a local detention center and tour of Annunciation House with a “life story/immigration story” talk by a guest.

Dawn Fowerbaugh, an English teacher, says that because SHS has so many students from other countries, including Mexico, it would be good for teachers to go see what they may have been through.

“I think it will give all of us a deeper understanding of these kids,” Fowerbaugh said. “I know that we are going to come back and talk to the staff when school starts and tell them about our experiences.”

Peddie says that there is a culture difference that people do not understand.

“I don’t think anybody that lives in the middle of the United States really truly understands how much the culture is shared at the border,” Peddie said. “We think about Texas being part of the United States, but at one time it was part of Mexico.  So how has that really affected the way people live at the border?”

Peddie says the group has had a few meetings about what they need to do to prepare for the trip. At the beginning of May, they will have the full schedule of what they are going to do on the border. When school is back in session next fall, they are going to share what they learned with the people of SHS.