Greece to Tijuana

by Hannah Brumbaum

 

Youth UnMuted’s summer workshops - our most ambitious series yet - culminated last week. We wrapped up and left Tijuana on Friday, closing three months of workshops that spanned three countries and reached over 100 displaced youth. Four weeks in Greece, one week in the Bay Area, and three weeks in Tijuana. This was a summer of expansion and growth, of strategic thinking and planning for the future, and of looking racism and xenophobia right in the eye.

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Our three-week expansion to Tijuana was memorable and valuable in so many ways. This was the first opportunity that we have had to branch out and work with young people outside of Greece, in a new and very different context. These weeks have been full of building partnerships, of storytelling and creativity, and of new relationships formed with some truly phenomenal young people. From Greece to Mexico, our team has been fueled by the energy, pride, and commitment of the young people we work alongside. Not surprisingly, the commonalties between displaced youth from Greece to Mexico are many; dreams for their futures such as studying at university, joining the US military, perfecting their skateboarding, and being protected and safe, to share a few. 

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The dreams of youth from these past three weeks in Tijuana were very real - people want to cross into the United States, to be reunited with their families, to go to school, to have jobs and careers and beautiful homes. With the wall looming over us, it was impossible to forget how our own government and administration have so clearly impacted the lives of these young people. 

In the three weeks we were in Tijuana, Trump passed two new policies impeding access to asylum for the very youth we were working with, their families, and their communities. So often, we hear about new policies and restrictions and are upset on principle, but not involving people that we know and love who are affected directly. We should never forget the very real experiences and individuals whose lives and futures are impacted. If more of our loved ones are affected the way these youth are, imagine how different our policies would look.

When you read the news, continue to remember the stories of the youth. From Rafa, who dreams of a life with friends and a dog named “salva vida,” to Tania who wishes to be an industrial engineer, to Gerardo, who wants to be reunited with his girlfriend and mother. 

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Hannah