Speaker Shares Experience Volunteering at Border

Special guest, Stephanie von Ancken, visited Bosque School students to share with them her experiences volunteering with asylum seekers at the Tijuana border crossing. Mary ‘21 connected Stephanie to Bosque School and organized the event. Mary explained that she heard everything happening in the news and was interested in learning more. As old family friends, Mary was able to hear from Stephanie about her experience at the border firsthand. After their encounter, Mary felt inspired to find a way to get involved and bring opportunities to Bosque School students to help them get involved too. Since Mary was moved by Stephanie’s experience, she felt that bringing Stephanie to share her story with other students was a great place to start.

Stephanie was raised by two educators in Corrales, New Mexico. Her parents taught her the value of facts, the value of thinking for herself, and the value of travel. As a Spanish speaker, a seasoned traveler, and a passionate individual, Stephanie saw what was going on at the border in the news and wanted to find a way to get involved. In January of 2019, she went down to Tijuana planning to spend ten days there, and ended up staying five months. She explained that during her time there she, “saw a lot of things that shocked me. Some things that completely broke my heart and at the same time both destroyed and renewed my confidence in humanity.”

However, Stephanie did not come to Bosque for the “shock and awe factor.” Instead, she came to share her story. “A story of people of action. A story of connecting people. And a story of human beings.” She described to Bosque students the people she encountered at the border, telling a bit of their life stories, humanizing them in a way that we don’t see every day in the media. She focused on the process of individuals trying to enter the United States at the border, highlighting the frustrations that were endured along with the moments of celebration.

She stressed that every single person can have a significant role at the border. All jobs and skills are needed. Stephanie touched upon some of the things people, including students, can do to help with the border crisis. A few actions people can take include sponsoring a migrant, volunteering, and engaging in “the hard conversations.”

Stephanie concluded her talk by encouraging students “to be brave and ask for the facts.” She believes that we all have the opportunity to be people of action.