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Going beyond borders

Dear Editor:The recent threats of violence written in graffiti at local construction sites bring to light a reality in our valley that has been brewing for quite some time. Racism. It is sad, but not surprising that this “ugly manifestation of that impulse has come home to roost in our little valley,” as John Colson put it in Sunday’s Aspen Times Weekly. To the Latinos I know – beautiful, kind, hardworking people – this is nothing very new. They live with the effects of racism every day. For us Anglos, perhaps, the events of the past week are a wake-up call. It is time for more action. More hands reaching out across the divide of culture and racism to build bridges. I know of many people in this valley who care about this issue and are trying to do something about it. I’d like to applaud those efforts. And I want to share with you a new one.A group of Aspen High School students recently chose to spend their Ex Ed week with a program called Beyond Borders. In Ejido Luis Encinas Johnson, a small, poor village in the desert of Northern Sonora, Mexico, each student stayed with a host family, in brick and plywood houses with no running water. They all spent a day in the agricultural fields, picking and bundling green onions along with the local campesinos. They built a new outhouse for Ejido’s preschool. They offered after-school programs for the local children, doing arts and crafts and playing games. They made friends. They learned many valuable lessons. In their words:”I learned that we should all be more thankful and try to improve the world for everyone.””I’ve had my eyes opened to another way of life, where what we take for granted is what they work hard to get.””Picking onions for a day helped me understand how hard it is to earn money in Mexico. You work very hard for a whole day and you feel like you did so much but when you get paid, you realize that your hard labor only earned you $20, if you’re fast. It makes more sense to me now why people risk their lives to cross the border to find better jobs and a better way of life.”My students and I would like to invite the community to a presentation of their Ex Ed trip. They will be serving up homemade tortillas and beans, reading their best journal entries, singing Spanish songs, sharing a slideshow and answering questions from the audience. This is a good opportunity to continue a discussion on how to bridge the gap that exists between Anglos and Latinos in this valley. Let’s get together and celebrate what these young people have done and explore what else we might do to bring our community together. The presentation will be held at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday, May 17), in the seminar room of Aspen High School.Merrily TalbottAspen High School


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