Blog post #8, Tanner Smith- Experiencing the Border

Before this class, the Mexican-United States border to me was an abstract concept to me, as I had never experienced it in person. I imagined a large fence, with several visible command towers and a line of armed guards. This did not match up with the reality of what we saw on the border, as at areas it was a fence that was really only designed to block cars, not people. There was one border control car that was barely visible, parked a decent ways away in the back of the parking lot. Many of my classmates very briefly crossed the border, and as you can see in the picture above, I was even able to throw a rock across the border. Grayson and I had a brief conversation about how long our rocks would be there, as for both of us the idea of being a rock throw away from one of the biggest political issues of our time was both intimidating and weird. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, there were also no other people at the border when we arrived. There was no giant overflow of people, cars, drugs, or really anything. I know this one area probably does not represent the entire border, but it is amazing how different the reality was from the image that had been built in my head through the media. It also makes me think about our perception of reality and how different people could go to the border and have a completely different take from what I did. Our political views completely color our lenses in that regard, which makes questioning yourself and talking to other people about their perceptions even more important.

3 Replies to “Blog post #8, Tanner Smith- Experiencing the Border”

  1. We will have to return for our rocks in the future Tanner. I also had many of the same thoughts at the border and thought it was very valuable to be able to see it through a non-politicized lens rather than always seeing it through the media.

  2. It was interesting to know that you see the border as such an abstract issue. Given my lifetime proximity to the border and living on both sides I always thought of the border as a physical thing, a river I could swim across ( and sometimes still do, sshh don’t tell border patrol). But I can understand how the majority of the US population really doesnt see the border this way.
    When I first got to W&L I mentioned I Was from the border, and almost instantly I was asked If it was a canyon like the Will-e Coyote cartoons.
    My first reaction was- fck, I should have gone to trinity. My second was the realization that most people don’t cross the border on a daily basis. Most don’t know the border patrol routes and the typical questions you get from homeland security personnel.

    I guess people really may fear what they don’t know.

  3. It’s crazy to think just how easily an image can materialize in someone’s mind without ever actually seeing what you’re imagining. With the massive role that media stories play in our everyday lives and the political scene in particular, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the creative storytelling and scare tactics. I was right there with you at how surprisingly calm and unremarkable the border was. Makes you wonder why people focus so much time and money on it.

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